Madrid: Barcelona could be boosted by a return to the top of La Liga just three days before they host Manchester City in the Champions League with a win away to Valladolid on Saturday.
The Catalans trail leaders Real Madrid by a point, but with Los Blancos not in action until Sunday evening when they host Levante, Barca can retake top spot for at least 24 hours.
The Spanish champions have had another unsettling week off the field as captain Carles Puyol announced he would be leaving the club at the end of the season.
Marc Bartra is one of those who stands to benefit from Puyol’s departure as the 23-year-old will move up the pecking order in central defence.
However, he insisted he will miss the guidance Puyol has given him as he has come through the ranks at the Camp Nou.
Bartra is expected to start on Saturday as Gerard Pique remains sidelined by a calf injury.
And Bartra is determined to make the most of any opportunity he is handed by Barca boss Gerardo Martino.
Despite holding a 2-0 advantage from the first leg of their last 16 tie against City, Martino is expected to continue rotating his squad with the English side’s visit in mind as Pedro Rodriguez and Andres Iniesta could come into the side that started the 4-1 win over Almeria last weekend.
Even if Barca do emerge victorious at the Jose Zorilla, Madrid can retake top spot when Levante visit the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.
Marcelo and Dani Carvajal are expected to retake their places at full-back after making a positive impression as substitutes in Real’s 2-2 draw away to local rivals Atletico Madrid last weekend.
Otherwise, Real boss Carlo Ancelotti is likely to name an unchanged side as his team don’t return to Champions League action until next week.
Diego Simeone’s men have the toughest test of the title contenders on paper this weekend as they travel to Celta Vigo on Saturday.
Los Rojiblancos will also have to do without top-scorer Diego Costa as he is suspended after picking up his fifth booking of the season against Real last time out.