Barcelona on the road as Madrid face derby

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique hit back at criticism of the team's tactics this season claiming recent achievements speak for themselves as they aim for their third successive league title.

Despite the fact the Catalan side are just one point off leaders Real Madrid and have won six out of their last seven games, they are not playing teams off the park as their fans have become accustomed to in the last two seasons under coach Pep Guardiola. Injuries have not helped the team while new striker David Villa has taken his time to settle, although he appears to have hit form with a brace in the 5-0 win last weekend over Sevilla.

In midweek they struggled against the strength and tenacity shown by FC Copenhagen and could only manage a 1-1 draw in the UEFA Champions League tie. "We don't know how to play any other way and we have managed to win eight out of ten titles doing it so we are ready to die this way," said Pique ahead of Sunday's game with Getafe. "We aim to get better game by game physically as well as tactically and we know that Madrid are always going to be there or there abouts in the title chase."

Barcelona will prepare for the game with Pique, Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol all injury doubts.

Madrid hots up
Real Madrid take on local rivals Atletico Madrid with their work done in the Champions League after substitute Pedro Leon earned them a late draw in the glamour tie against AC Milan on Wednesday night. It has been a successful start to life at the Bernabeu for coach Jose Mourinho with the team top of the table domestically and five points clear in their Champions League group. Real face an Atletico side who will be in high spirits after an important away win in the UEFA Europa League against Rosenborg.

Behind the top two Villarreal and Valencia are desperately trying to keep up. Brazilian Nilmar has improved a lot since his first season at Villarreal and is now a potent threat in attack. Borja Valero has also been a useful addition in midfield as cover for the ageing Marcos Senna. They take on Athletic Bilbao this weekend while Valencia face a tricky away trip to Sevilla.

"It is an important game for us if we want to remain among the top teams. Sevilla are a side which plays direct football but are not at their best at the moment and so we need to attack them," said striker Roberto Soldado.

Espanyol have been relegation candidates in recent seasons but they have started well and will be looking to take advantage of a Malaga side in crisis. The struggling Andalusian club fired their Portuguese coach Jesualdo Ferreira and ex-Real Madrid trainer Manuel Pellegrini has just been appointed.

Bottom side Zaragoza have made a woeful start and need to improve against Mallorca while Deportivo La Coruna above them are little better and they take on promoted Levante.

Also new to the top-flight are Hercules who brought in prized assets Royston Drenthe and David Trezeguet in the summer. They managed a surprise victory at the Nou Camp earlier in the season but as they prepare to take on Osasuna their objective is survival.

Real Sociedad and Racing Santander face each other also looking for mid-table security as too do Almeria and Sporting Gijon.