International Soccer

La Liga race heats up as Real Madrid hosts Levante

Madrid, Spain ( - Real Madrid will hope to maintain its position atop La Liga on Sunday when it welcomes Levante to the Bernabeu.

The race for the title in Spain's top flight is heating up after last weekend's results. Atletico Madrid stayed three points back of Real after the two sides played to a 2-2 draw at the Calderon, while Barcelona's 4-1 defeat of Almeria brought the Catalans to within one point of top spot.

Barcelona will return to action at the weekend with a trip to the Jose Zorrilla to face Valladolid on Saturday while Atletico will take on Celta Vigo at the Estadio Balaidos later in the day.

That means that Real Madrid may find itself needing a win to reclaim its position at the summit, though dropped points from either of the club's suitors would afford Carlo Ancelotti's men the opportunity to extend their lead.

And while the odds of collecting three points would be in Real's favor, Levante's run of good form cannot be overlooked.

Les Granotes enter the weekend on an eight-match unbeaten run, a stretch that has seen them climb to eighth place in the top flight and take points off Barcelona.

Levante nearly even stole a win over Real Madrid when the two sides met at the Cuidad de Valencia on Oct. 5. Nabil El Zhar thought he had won it when his 86th-minute strike gave the home side a 2-1 lead, but Alvaro Morata and Cristiano Ronaldo scored at the death to overturn the margin and send Real Madrid home with a 3-2 victory.

The Galacticos would figure to be more comfortable playing on home soil on Sunday, but if fatigue from a slate of midweek international friendlies sets in on Madrid's squad, a share of the spoils for Levante may be in the cards.

Real Betis ended a three-game slide last time out by getting a draw at Villarreal, and now the club will hope to climb further toward safety by claiming three points over Getafe at the Benito Villamarin on Saturday. Also on Saturday, Villarreal will head to Los Carmenes to face a Granada side that has lost two straight.

On Sunday, Sevilla will go for a third straight league win when it heads to the Estadio Mediterraneos to face Almeria, Elche will look to build upon a defeat of Celta Vigo in its last outing when it heads to Espanyol and Valencia squares off with Athletic Bilbao in a meeting with major implications for the final Champions League berth.

And on Monday, Real Sociedad will host Rayo Vallecano at the Anoeta while Malaga attempts to pull further away from the relegation zone with a positive result at Osasuna.

03/07 11:14:11 ET

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