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Analysis: Four Things To Look Out for in Spain’s Matchday 27

La Liga returns for an intense final two months of matches before the end of the season. Here are some things to look out for this weekend in Spain.

1. Injuries limit Xavi’s options against Elche

Barcelona’s 2-1 win against Real Madrid in the last game before the break put them 12 points clear at the top of the table, and it would take a disaster for them to see that advantage slip away.

However, the two sides will meet again at Camp Nou on Wednesday night when Barca defend a 1-0 lead from the first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal. With Real Madrid out for revenge, Barca coach Xavi Hernandez has seen his squad further affected by injuries with Frenkie de Jong and Ronald Araujo both missing international duty with physical problems, and Andreas Christensen tearing a calf muscle while playing for his country. Meanwhile, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele are still out of action with long-term issues.

Frenkie de Jong and Araujo should be fit for Wednesday, but Xavi is unlikely to risk them in Saturday’s visit to bottom side Elche. Elche look doomed to relegation, but with a new coach – their fourth of the season – they will look to surprise Barca, whose attention may be elsewhere.

2. Real Madrid need Benzema back among the goals

Real Madrid face Valladolid, another side fighting to avoid relegation, on Sunday, and will be clear favorites against a rival that has only won one league game in the Santiago Bernabeu in their history.

Carlo Ancelotti has his full squad fit after the international break and will be hoping that Karim Benzema can use the game to get back among the goals.

The striker has 11 league goals this season but was looking tired before the break and his last league goal was against Elche in the middle of February.

With Camp Nou awaiting next Wednesday, this would be the perfect time for Benzema to get his sights readjusted.

3. Atletico Madrid vs Real Betis: Huge game for Top-four hopes

Third-placed Atletico Madrid at home to fifth-placed Real Betis is a big candidate for the game of the weekend, as Atletico look for three points that would lift them nine clear of their rivals and take them very close to ensuring another top-four finish.

Atletico have taken seven wins and two draws from their last nine league games, and are benefitting from not having played in Europe since the start of the year. Although Memphis Depay is injured, that should give Alvaro Morata a chance to play in an attack where Antoine Griezmann is pulling the strings.

Betis were hit by a four-game ban given to midfielder Sergio Canales this week and with Nabil Fekir out for the season, that will limit them in attack, although Borja Iglesias – a recent target for Atletico – is always tough to deal with leading the line.

4. Can Mendilibar get a reaction from Sevilla?

New Sevilla coach Jose Luis Mendilibar kicks off his time at the club with a vital trip to Cadiz for a relegation six-pointer.

The 62-year-old Basque has earned a reputation for playing uncomplicated football, tightening sides up in defense, and getting the best out of limited squads at clubs such as Eibar, Osasuna and Valladolid. Sevilla is without a doubt the biggest club he has coached, although his job is to help them avoid dropping to the second division.

Despite sitting just above the relegation zone, Sevilla have plenty of quality players, including three World Cup winners, and it will be fascinating how they adapt to Mendilibar’s tough football and an attitude that demands 100 percent commitment.