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Sports & Off The Pitch
Apr 25 2013 9:18AM
 
Barca and Real looking for consolation after Euro meltdowns
Lionel Messi. Picture: Reuters
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Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid are looking forward to playing again on Saturday.

On that day they will have the chance to find some league consolation after their midweek meltdowns in Germany, in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals.

Barca crashed 4-0 at Bayern Munich Tuesday, Real went down 4-1 at Borussia Dortmund Wednesday.

Saturday could turn out to be a veritable day of consolation for Barca because they might actually clinch the Liga title. For this to happen, they need to win at lowly Athletic Bilbao then have second-placed Real lose to local rivals Atletico.

Barca are currently 13 points ahead of Real.

Barca idol Lionel Messi said Wednesday: "We will try to turn the tie (against Bayern) around. But first we must concentrate on sealing the league title as soon as possible."

Messi did not look match-fit in Munich and was a sad shadow of his former self. He will probably miss the Bilbao game, in order to be fit for the showdown against Bayern.

Catalan radio station RAC-1 commented Thursday that "celebrating the league title Saturday would put Barca in good spirits ahead of the visit of Bayern."

Bilbao's veteran anchorman Carlos Gurpegui said Wednesday: "Let's hope that their defeat in Munich has affected Barca, because we still need to pick up at least five or six more points."

Bilbao are 14th, eight points above the relegation zone.

Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid will fancy their chances of finally winning El Derby after seeing how the Real defence collapsed in Dortmund.

Astonishingly, Atletico have not beaten their illustrious neighbours since 1999. They are in third place, just three points behind the whites, and therefore need to win to keep alive their dream of finishing second.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone said Wednesday: "I think Saturday is a good opportunity for us, an opportunity that has to be taken advantage of.

"That is what football is all about: to take your chances when they come along. We will have to be very attentive and concentrated, with enthusiasm and hope.

"14 years without beating them is a long time. But history has to change sooner or later, and this is the opportunity that we have."

Saturday will also see a relegation battle between Zaragoza and Mallorca, plus fellow strugglers Celta Vigo away to Levante, who are in poor form.

Sunday's big game will bring together Real Sociedad and Valencia, in a fascinating battle for fourth place - and a berth in the Champions League qualifiers.

Sociedad are fourth at the moment, two points above Valencia.

The 33rd round of games will kick of on Friday with lowly Osasuna away to Rayo Vallecano, and will finish on Monday with Betis at home to Deportivo Coruna, who have moved above the relegation zone with four wins and a draw since Fernando Vazquez took charge.
       
-Sapa-dpa

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