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La Liga returns: what to look out for

LA LIGA

La Liga returns: what to look out for

Real Madrid, Barça, Atlético and co. return for an intense April that will go a long way to deciding the title race, European places and relegation

Alejandro García

DIARIO AS

Real Madrid, Barça, Atlético and co. return for an intense April that will go a long way to deciding the title race, European places and battle to avoid the drop.

La Liga returns for the first of seven rounds of games in an intense April that will go a long way to deciding the title race, European places and battle to avoid the drop.

La Liga matches coming thick and fast

There is a La Liga fixture on 24 of the 30 days of April and a Spanish team will be in action every single day once Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atlético Madrid and Celta Vigo's European quarter-finals are included.

Many of those clashes come against one another in the coming weeks as both Barça and Atlético visit Real's Santiago Bernabéu.

It is vital all three make the most of seemingly gentle fixtures to bed them back into action after the international break. Barça and Atlético travel to struggling Granada and Málaga respectively, whilst Real defend the best home record in La Liga against 10th-placed Alavés.

Barcelona visit Granada

Lionel Messi will have to endure an unwanted familiar feeling as he misses Barça's clash with Granada due to suspension.

His four-game ban for insulting an assistant referee meant he wasn't drained by playing in the high altitude of La Paz in midweek as Argentina's faltering World Cup qualifying campaign hit new lows in a 2-0 defeat to Bolivia.

La Liga returns: what to look out for

In his absence, Barca will expect Neymar's sensational form to continue after he struck in both Brazil's wins in the past week to ensure the five-time world champions became the first side to qualify for Russia 2018.

Granada, though, are just as desperate for the points for different reasons at the other end of the table. A Chinese takeover of the club back in July was meant to end the Andalusians' perennial battle against relegation. Instead, they lie seven points off safety with just 10 games left to save themselves.

In a 25-man squad containing 18 different nationalities and 16 loanees, finding common ground has been difficult for coach Lucas Alcaraz in his second spell in charge. He oversaw a famous victory over Barca during his first spell almost exactly three years ago and needs another miracle to spark an unlikely survival bid.

Atléti head to Malaga

Boss Diego Simeone returns to the scene of his first game in charge of Atletico over five years ago at Málaga's La Rosaleda.

The Argentine has spoken a lot about his future over the past fortnight, claiming he turned down a 35 million euro offer to leave at the end of last season, but committing to stay for at least one more campaign when Atlético move into a new 67,000 capacity stadium come September.

La Liga returns: what to look out for

Atlético have won only one of their five trips to Málaga under Simeone. However, they seem to be coming into their best form of the season at the right time and a fourth straight La Liga win would move them move above Sevilla into third for at least 12 hours.

Real Madrid host Alavés

Alavés head to the Bernabeu for the first time in a decade hoping to complete an unlikely double after shocking Barcelona at the Camp Nou earlier this season.

The Basques have the best away record outside the top six and also held Atlético at the Vicente Calderón on the opening weekend of the season. Alavés capitalised as Barça paid a heavy price for resting a series of key players after an international break in September. Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane will have to balance his side's demands in the coming weeks with not making the same mistake on Sunday.

Follow Granada vs Barcelona live coverage | LaLiga Santander Week 29

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