Real Madrid hope their new loan signing Emmanuel Adebayor can help them topple champions Barcelona in the league, although they need their rivals to start dropping some points.
Real trail Barcelona by four points in the Spanish first division and hope to get back to winning ways away from home when they travel to face Osasuna in Pamplona on Sunday. Madrid dropped two points in a 1-1 draw at Almeria in their last league match on the road, but will take heart from their 1-0 Kings Cup semi-final first leg win at Sevilla on Wednesday.
French striker Karim Benzema came up with the winner for the second successive game to show Togo striker Adebayor, who has signed on loan from Manchester City, that he won't give up his place easily. "We are friends and I respect him (Benzema)," said Adebayor. "We are at the same club now and I haven't come to push him out, but to win titles. We are both strikers and the two of us play for the team to try to win trophies with Real Madrid."
Madrid boss Jose Mourinho, who turned 48 on Wednesday, had pleaded for a new striker following the injury to Gonzalo Higuain and has landed the muscular Adebayor, who arrives on loan with an option to buy at the end of the season.
Barcelona were in fine form as they thrashed Almeria 5-0 in the Kings Cup semi-final first leg at the Nou Camp on Wednesday to put one foot in the final and now face the only side to beat them in the league this season. Promoted Hercules stunned Barcelona with a 2-0 win at the Nou Camp just two games into the new season and the champions will be out for revenge in the return fixture on Sunday.
Barcelona have won 14 consecutive matches in the league to reach the summit but coach Pep Guardiola insists his team have not forgotten about the threat from Real. "This (championship) isn't over yet as we are only halfway through," said Guardiola. "Real are only four points behind, still in the Kings Cup and the Champions League. They could still win everything this season."
The game of the weekend sees third-placed Villarreal travel to fifth placed Espanyol on Sunday. Espanyol have won eight out of their nine home matches at the Cornella-El Prat stadium and are looking to close the five-point gap on Villarreal.
Valencia, three points ahead of Espanyol in fourth, will probably hope their UEFA Champions League rivals draw and they can capitalise with a win at Racing Santander on Monday.
Sevilla must pick themselves up from the disappointment of their Cup reverse to Real and focus on trying to improve their league position. Gregorio Manzano's side are 11 points off the top four and have a testing trip to the Riazor Stadium to face Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday.
Atletico Madrid are another team dreaming of a top four finish, but lie ten points off the Champions League places ahead of Saturday's home match against Athletic Bilbao. Bilbao are two points ahead of Atletico in sixth and defeat for the hosts would heap more pressure on manager Quique Sanchez Flores.
Flores became a hero with the Atletico fans after guiding them to UEFA Europa League glory last season. However, the holders crashed out of the competition at the group stage, lost to Real in the Kings Cup quarter-finals and, more importantly, have lost eight times in the league. "It wouldn't make sense to change the coaching team because they have helped us win two cups (the Europa League and European Super Cup) with their work and commitment," said Atletico defender Antonio Lopez
Elsewhere Almeria need to forget their 5-0 Kings Cup semi-final first leg mauling by Barcelona and focus on trying to stay up. A first league home win last weekend lifted Almeria off bottom spot and they are now just one point from safety going into Saturday's match at promoted Real Sociedad.