MADRID: Leaders Barcelona return to league action away to Valencia on Sunday (tomorrow) after a typically charged El Clasico in the cup where Dani Alves claims he was subjected to racial abuse.
With the league title seemingly out of sight, as Real Madrid trail Barca by 15 points, it means there is added incentive for Jose Mourinho’s men to beat their arch-rivals in the semi-final of the Spanish Cup.
The first leg ended in a 1-1 draw on Wednesday, but the aftermath was overshadowed by Barcelona’s Brazilian defender Alves claiming he was subjected to racial abuse at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“It is a shame, however you are feeling (about the game) people should be there to support their team and there are too many racist insults,” he said.
“Sadly it is a lost battle because until they take more drastic action then it will continue. I didn’t think of walking off the pitch. This wasn’t a one-off, it happens in a lot of stadiums.
“They need to punish clubs but not with fines like 1,000 or 2,000 euros. They need to be heavier and in England, for example, you would be unlikely to see this happen. In Spain there isn’t respect in football stadiums.” Barca responded to their first defeat of the season away to Real Sociedad by thumping Osasuna 5-1 at home last week but now they have a tricky game against a rejuvenated Valencia under Ernesto Valverde.
Real Madrid appear to finally be finding their form, with nine goals from their last two league matches, and travel to Granada.
Second-placed Atletico Madrid will look to maintain their winning run at home this season with the arrival of Real Betis while Malaga, in fourth, entertain Zaragoza.
High-flying Rayo Vallecano have a tough trip to Sevilla who have started well under new coach Unai Emery and are looking to push for a European place.
At the other end of the table, Deportivo La Coruna take on Getafe, Mallorca are against Real Sociedad and Osasuna play Celta Vigo. Elsewhere, Espanyol meet Levante and Valladolid are in action against Athletic Bilbao.