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Madrid Derby Headlines Big Weekend In La Liga

Real Madrid head into the fourth Madrid derby of the season at Atletico on Sunday following their 6-1 thrashing of Schalke in the UEFA Champions League and buoyed by the return of Cristiano Ronaldo.

After losing 1-0 at home to Atletico in La Liga back in September, Real gained revenge over their local rivals with a comprehensive 5-0 aggregate win in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey earlier this month.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men have also usurped Atletico in the league in recent weeks.

Los Rojiblancos’ shock defeats to Almeria and Osasuna have allowed Real to open up a three-point lead over both Atletico and Barcelona at the top of the table.

Real will be further boosted by the return of Cristiano Ronaldo to league action after the FIFA Ballon d’Or winner missed his side’s last three domestic games for his red card and dissent shown in their 1-1 draw away to Athletic Bilbao on 2 February.

Atletico, meanwhile, should be refreshed by a rare midweek off as they aim to put a run of four defeats in six games behind them.

With one or both sides from the capital set to drop points, Barcelona can take advantage when they host Almeria at the Camp Nou on Sunday.

The Catalans were also blown away last weekend when they lost 3-1 at Real Sociedad to finish the weekend behind Real Madrid for the first time since 2012.

Fabregas and Xavi are expected to be recalled to the side after they were controversially rested by coach Gerardo Martino against Sociedad.

Javier Mascherano will also return to the heart of the defence alongside Marc Bartra as Gerard Pique faces a brief spell on the sidelines due to a calf injury.

Spanish La Liga fixtures
Athletic Bilbao v Granada

Malaga v Valladolid
Levante v Osasuna
Getafe v Espanyol
Elche v Celta Vigo

Villarreal v Real Betis
Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid
Sevilla v Real Sociedad
Rayo Vallecano v Valencia
Barcelona v Almeria