Barcelona poised to clinch title against Espanyol

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Marcos Alonso (L) of Barcelona vies with Sergi Darder of Espanyol during a Spanish La Liga football match in Barcelona, Spain, Dec. 31, 2022. (Photo by Joan Gosa/Xinhua)

FC Barcelona could be confirmed as this season's La Liga champions in the 34th round of matches held over the weekend.

Xavi Hernandez's men will assure the title if they win the Barcelona derby away to relegation-threatened neighbors Espanyol on Sunday night, or if Real Madrid fail to win at home to Getafe on Saturday and Atletico Madrid don't beat already-relegated Elche.

The Barcelona derby is a tense affair at the best of times, between two clubs who may be neighbors but with a poor on and off field relationship.

While a win would confirm Barca as champions, it would leave Espanyol staring at the reality of relegation. Luis Garcia's side are second from bottom, three points behind third from bottom Getafe and Valencia, who are in 17th position, and Barca fans would love to help send them into the second division.

The game comes days after Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets confirmed he would leave the club at the end of the season and a win would give him the ninth league title of his 15-year career.

Real Madrid entertain Getafe of Saturday evening, with the visitors needing the win much more than the home side, whose attention is clearly focused on Wednesday's Champions League semifinal second leg away to Manchester City. Carlo Ancelotti is certain to make a host of changes for the game and Getafe have a chance of taking at least a point in their fight to avoid the drop.

The round of matches starts on Friday night with Mallorca at home to Cadiz, who are just a point above the relegation zone and need to recover from a 5-1 defeat to Atletico Madrid in their last game.

Real Sociedad have a seven-point cushion over Villarreal in fourth and a win would take them another step closer to the Champions League when they entertain Girona.

Villarreal need to beat Athletic Club Bilbao in order to have a chance of finishing fourth, while Athletic have slipped to eighth taking one point from their last three games and travel without central defenders Yeray, Inigo Martinez or Dani Vivian.

Osasuna still have a chance of finishing seventh but must beat Almeria, another side battling against relegation, just two points above the drop zone.

Valencia could drop into the bottom three if they fail to take anything from their visit to Celta Vigo in a game where the home side can assure their own survival after a dip in form that has seen them lose four of their last five matches.

Atletico Madrid should have few problems with their visit to already-relegated Elche, although goalkeeper Jan Oblak is out with a back injury, with Ivo Grbic taking his place until the end of the season.

Three consecutive defeats have dropped Valladolid right back into the relegation dogfight and they will hope that Sevilla's Europa League semifinal against Juventus will help make their task easier.

The good news for Sevilla is that Pape Gueye will be fresh as the defender wasn't included in Sevilla's squad list for Europe.

The final match on Monday night sees Betis recover central defenders Edgar and Luiz Felipe as they look to consolidate their top-six place at home to Rayo Vallecano. 

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