DAUNTING PROSPECT FIXTURES
barcelona v rayo vallecano
(Tomorrow, 2.55am, SingTel mio TV Ch 115 & StarHub TV Ch 209)
Rayo Vallecano midfielder Raul Baena knows the size of the task facing his team when they take on Barcelona.
Rayo know even an unlikely win would not lift them out of the bottom three in the table because of their poor goal difference, but that has not deterred the Madrid-based side from going in to the game with a positive attitude.
A 4-1 home win over Malaga in their last League fixture lifted the spirits of the Rayo players and Baena said: "It was essential for us to win against Malaga and it gives us a great morale boost to face what is coming.
"We are excited to face Barcelona and know it will be difficult, but we will do everything to get something positive. It is not the ideal place to look to get a victory, but we will do everything possible."
Vallecano will have Romanian defender Razvan Rat available, after he signed for the remainder of the season as a free agent following his release by English Premier League side West Ham.
Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino is boosted by the return to training of Neymar (right) and he is back in the squad for this weekend's game.
A tendon injury to his right ankle kept the Brazilian out of action for a month.
Martino said: "Neymar has trained very well. But this does not change anything. All (players are) competing for a chance.''
The visitors will not only have to contend with Neymar, but also the mercurial talents of Argentine playmaker Lionel Messi, who is closing in on a goalscoring record.
Messi has scored 226 League goals in Spanish football. That places him one behind former Real Madrid star Alfredo Di Stefano (227) and two fewer than La Liga's leading all-time scorer Raul (228).
Martino has decided to leave out Xavi due to injury.
He said: "Xavi is fine. He has been left out of the squad and has therefore trained in the gym."
"Neymar has trained well.
But this does not change anything. All are competing for a
chance." - Barca boss Gerardo Martino
● A Madrid v R Valladolid (10.55pm)
● Levante v Almeria (12.55am)
● Barcelona v R Vallecano (2.55am)
● Villarreal v Celta Vigo (4.55am)
● Granada v Real Betis (6.55pm)
● Getafe v Real Madrid (11.55pm)
● Athletic Bilbao v Espanyol (1.55am)
● Sevilla v Valencia (3.55am)
● Malaga v Real Sociedad (4.55am)
*All matches will be telecast LIVE on SingTel mio TV Ch 115 & StarHub TV Ch 209.
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