Spanish leaders Barcelona will face another tough test on Sunday, away to revitalized Valencia.
Lionel Messi and company were held to a 1-1 draw by Real Madrid in the cup semi-finals on Wednesday. Now they have to put the February 27 second leg out of their minds - and focus again on La Liga.
“Now we have to change our thinking and focus on Sunday’s game. It is going to be difficult because Valencia are a good team. We have to keep picking up three points per game,” Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta said.
Barca’s caretaker coach Jordi Roura, standing in for Tito Vilanova who is undergoing throat cancer treatment in the United States, will probably refresh his team by bringing in Victor Valdes, Javier Mascherano, Adriano, Thiago and David Villa.
Barca are 11 points ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid, who are at home to Real Betis later on.
Valencia are seventh and improving rapidly under new coach Ernesto Valverde. Veteran Valencia captain David Albelda might be fit to return, along with youngster Sergio Canales.
Sunday will also see an intriguing clash between Sevilla, another revitalized team, and surprise package Rayo Vallecano.
The big game on Saturday will be Granada against Real Madrid.
Making his debut on the Granada bench will be prodigal son Lucas Alcaraz, who took over from Juan Anquela . Alcaraz is a native of Granada, played for the team and started his coaching career there. Real are third, four points behind Atletico and 15 behind Barca.DPA