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24 April 2014

La Liga: Real Madrid, Barca Look to rally from midweek Champions League defeats

 - Saturday, 28 April 2012, 00:00

Real Madrid have little time to mourn their Champions League loss, as they have a chance to wrap up the Spanish league title as early as this weekend.

Madrid can secure their record 32nd league crown tomorrow if they beat Sevilla and Barcelona lose at Rayo Vallecano. Madrid lead the three-time defending champions by seven points with four games to play.

The Spanish giants were favourites to win their respective Champions League semi-finals and set up a first ever “clasico” final, but instead followed one another out of the competition as Madrid lost on penalties to Bayern Munich on Wednesday - a day after Barcelona were eliminated by Chelsea.

Madrid now look to avoid any slip-up as they closes in on a first league trophy in four years, leaving Barcelona eyeing next month’s Copa del Rey final as the last chance to salvage some silverware in what is proving to be a disappointing end to the season.

“That competition is in the past now, we have no chance to win it so we have to forget about it,” Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas said. “We have to forget about it and think about tomorrow.”

Cristiano Ronaldo looks to increase his league-record tally of 42 goals, with Lionel Messi right behind him on 41. Ronaldo scored both of Madrid’s goals against Bayern on Wednesday to take his season tally to 56 but then missed his penalty in the shootout. Messi, meanwhile, has 63 goals in all competitions but is scoreless in his last three games - an unusually long drought by his standards.

Barcelona have the tougher task of rebounding from a semi-final they were in control of, with the defending European champions leading 2-0 against 10-man Chelsea, who rallied to draw and take the series.

“This club and its players have shown in the past after big losses it can rebound,” midfielder Cesc Fabregas said. “We have to remain confident in our abilities and go forward, focusing on the remaining league games and then the cup.”

Racing Santander could be the first team to be relegated from the first division today if they fail to win at Real Sociedad, while Zaragoza and Sporting Gijon know any defeat could also condemn them to dropping into the second division.

Zaragoza welcome Athletic Bilbao and Sporting are at Espanyol today, when 17th-place Villarreal could also take a big step toward staying up with a win over Osasuna.

Malaga’s tentative hold on fourth place and the league’s final Champions League spot will be tested tomorrow when they welcome third-place Valencia, especially as Levante can apply further pressure by beating Granada a day earlier.

Athletic and Atletico Madrid, who play at Real Betis, are also chasing Malaga as the pair trail by four points.

Also, Getafe play Mallorca.

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