Barca hoping to bounce back against Osasuna
Barcelona, Spain (Sports Network) - After suffering its first league loss of the season last weekend, Barcelona will hope to bounce back with maximum points against Osasuna at Camp Nou on Sunday.
The Catalans were upended by Real Sociedad at the Anoeta on Sunday to remain on 55 points for the season. They still sit atop the La Liga table, but their lead on Atletico has been cut to just eight points.
Barcelona was able to advance to the Copa del Rey semifinals with a 4-2 defeat of Malaga on Thursday, signaling that perhaps last weekend's league loss to La Real was simply an aberration.
"We want to get back to winning in the league after losing at Anoeta and this Sunday will give us the chance," Barcelona midfield general Xavi told the club's official website. "[Jose Luis] Mendilibar's Osasuna will always make things difficult though."
Xavi went on to say that Barcelona's tight-knit camaraderie should be helpful in getting the club back to winning ways.
"We're in good form and we have a good relationship in the dressing room and you can see that reflected on the pitch," Xavi said after the Catalans edged Malaga. "You get used to winning and then it hurts when you lose."
The Copa del Rey quarterfinal was a stern test for Barcelona as fourth-palce Malaga is well-suited to compete with the Catalan giants. But struggling Osasuna will be happy to come away from Camp Nou with as little as a point.
Los Rojillos sit third from bottom in the table on 18 points, but it will look to its two-game unbeaten run in league play as a point of confidence.
However, taking points off of Barcelona on its home soil is no easy task. The club has dropped just five points all season, two of which were at home in a draw with Real Madrid.
Pair that with the fact that Osasuna has managed just five points from its road matches this term, and it's safe to say that all signs point to a victory for Barcelona.
Looking to keep pace with Barcelona is Atletico Madrid, which comes into its meeting with Athletic Bilbao at San Memes on Sunday in second place with 47 points. Real Madrid, sitting in third place with 40 points, cannot afford any further slip-ups if it wants to maintain its outside chance of pipping Barca to the title, starting with its match against Getafe at the Bernabeu on Sunday.
Also on Sunday, Rayo Vallecano welcomes Real Betis to the Teresa Rivero and Mallorca hosts Malaga at the Iberostar Stadium.
On Saturday, Celta Vigo takes on Real Sociedad at the Estadio Municipal de Balaidos, Valladolid heads to the Ciutat de Valencia to take on Levante, Real Zaragoza hosts Espanyol at La Romareda and Valencia travels to the Riazor to face Deportivo.
And in Monday's lone La Liga fixture, Sevilla welcomes Granada to the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.