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La Liga preview: Tough tests for Barcelona, Real Madrid

Barca take on Getafe with new coach Tito Vilanova looking to keep his good start going.

Xavi in action last time out.
Xavi in action last time out.
Image: MANU FERNANDEZ/AP/Press Association Images

BARCELONA TRAVEL TO Getafe as they look to preserve their 100% record in La Liga in their bid to regain the title they lost last season.

The 21-time La Liga champions seem to have made a smooth transition from iconic manager Pep Guardiola to former assistant Tito Vilanova.

Under Vilanova, Barcelona have won their opening three matches against Real Sociedad, Osasuna and Valencia, with Lionel Messi leading the way yet again with four goals.

But tonight’s game at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez will prove a big challenge after Luis Garcia Plaza’s men upstaged Barcelona on their last trip to Getafe in November last year. Getafe’s recent form is also a cause for concern for Barcelona, with the club having claimed the scalp of reigning champions Real Madrid on August 28.

Real’s surprise loss spurred the club into action and they head to Sevilla with a league victory and the Spanish Super Cup under their belt. Following their 2-1 loss at Getafe, Jose Mourinho’s troops bounced back with a win against Barcelona and a league victory at home to Granada.

Their opponents, Sevilla, are unbeaten this season but Real approach the game full of confidence having scored 15 goals in three previous encounters against the dual-Europa League winners. La Liga’s surprise packets Rayo Vallecano take on an Atletico Madrid side in red-hot form and boasting arguably the world’s best striker in Radamel Falcao.

The Colombian striker has eight goals in all competitions, including a hat-trick in Atletico’s 4-1 demolition of Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup. Vallecano’s unbeaten start to the campaign is even more remarkable given last year’s top-goalscorer Michu (15) departed for English Premier League club Swansea during the transfer window.

In other La Liga fixtures, Champions League participants Malaga will look to make it three wins from four at home to Levante, cellar-dwellers Osasuna play host to second-placed Mallorca, while struggling Granada welcome undefeated Deportivo La Coruna to the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes. Top-three hopefuls Valencia, who are still searching for their first win of the season, do battle with Celta de Vigo, winless Espanyol face Europa League finalists Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad tackle Real Zaragoza tomorrow.

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