Top of the table and loving it – Barcelona travel to Xerez tonight knowing that a) they’re ahead of Real Madrid in the league by two points and b) a win at lowly Xerez will give them a nice cushion against Los Blancos when the Catalan club head out to play in the World Club Championship.
Barcelona are playing an extra midweek game to accommodate the WCC in their calendar – and they warmed up for this game by clinically disposing of a much-improved Real Madrid side. Barcelona were never in full control of the game on Sunday and quite often their midfield failed to click or control the roving duo of Kaka and Ronaldo, but the back five held firm.
With the initial storm weathered, Barcelona made it count in front of goal early in the second half, and despite going down to 10 men they held Madrid off with some ease once they had taken the lead.
Xerez will be a different challenge, but it will also give the fringe players a chance to get playing minutes under their belt, although one player who would surely have started this game, Sergio Busquets, will miss it because of his red card from Sunday.
Xerez will take some hope from the fact that Barcelona’s three draws this season in the league have all come away from home, and that the Spanish champions have looked less menacing than last season.
However that’s not much consolation for La Liga’s bottom-rung team – they have 7 points to Barcelona’s 30, and their last game was a thumping 1-5 defeat away to Getafe.
All signs point to another Barcelona win, although Xerez will do their best – for the first few minutes at least – to make a game out of it.