Top two look to stretch lead
Real Madrid are set to come face to face with a player they are reportedly keen on adding to their star-studded squad this weekend when they welcome
Among them are Real, although any side hoping to tempt Athletic to trade in their prized asset may get short shrift from the Basque outfit. Club president
Regardless of Llorente's fine form this season, Athletic will still be firm underdogs heading into Saturday's match against a Real side who have been in stunning form under new coach
Not only are they still unbeaten under the Portuguese, with 13 wins from 17 competitive games, but they are a point clear at the top of the Primera Division standings and through to the last 16 of both the UEFA Champions League and Copa del Rey.
Real also boast the most prolific attack (28 goals scored) and most miserly defence (five conceded) in La Liga, while
Real, for whom Mourinho will serve the second of his two-match touchline ban this weekend, will be especially keen to beat Athletic as it will ensure they head to the Camp Nou for 'El Clasico' the following week at the top of the Primera Division standings.
Director and former playing legend Emilio Butragueno said: "Being top heading into the Camp Nou can be encouraging. The league will not be over after the Barcelona match, although last year the two games [between Madrid and Barcelona] virtually decided La Liga."
Barςa, who have won their last five league matches - one less than the run Madrid are on, are away to third-bottom Almeria this weekend.
There is already a gap starting to develop between the big two and the rest of the pack, and that could increase in the 12th round of action as third-placed Villarreal - who are five points behind Barςa - meet local rivals Valencia, who are three points further adrift in fourth place.
Villarreal playmaker Cani, whose side lost 3-1 to Barςa last weekend, said: "It's a good opportunity for us to continue at the top and put distance between ourselves and Valencia."
On Sunday, Sevilla coach
Also, Atletico Madrid go to Real Sociedad, Osasuna meet Sporting Gijon, Racing Santander are at second-bottom Levante and Malaga, who have won their opening two games under new coach
On Monday night, struggling Real Zaragoza will be under the guidance of former