Con­gested April will prove de­ci­sive in Primera Liga ti­tle race.

The National - News - Sport - - FRONT PAGE - Andy Mit­ten [email protected]­ational.ae

Span­ish foot­ball re­turns af­ter the in­ter­na­tional break, with Barcelona and Real Madrid fac­ing a stag­ger­ing nine games in April.

They will play each other on Sun­day April 23 at the Bern­abeu. Madrid head the ta­ble by two points with 11 games left and have a game in hand over Barcelona, but while the Madrid-sup­port­ing news­pa­per Marca thinks they have an 81 per cent chance of win­ning the ti­tle, there are likely to be sev­eral more twists in this ti­tle race.

Barca, who lost their last away match at De­portivo La Coruna, face some tough games af­ter they meet sec­ond-bot­tom club Granada on Sun­day, who only lost 1-0 at Camp Nou in Oc­to­ber.

Barca play Sevilla at home next Wed­nes­day, then Malaga away be­fore a Uefa Cham­pi­ons League last-eight first leg at Ju­ven­tus.

The Cata­lans’ next game af­ter the trip to Turin is at Real Madrid be­fore they face doomed Osasuna at home on April 26 and then play in the Cata­lan derby at Es­panyol four days later.

It is an un­for­giv­ing sched­ule, but Real Madrid do not have an easy run ei­ther.

Madrid are at home to Alaves this Sun­day be­fore they play at strug­gling neigh­bours Le­ganes next Wed­nes­day. Then things get tough. Zine­dine Zi­dane’s side play Atletico Madrid on April 8, then they are away at Bay­ern Mu­nich four days later in the Cham­pi­ons League be­fore an­other away game at a Sport­ing Gi­jon, who held them in the equiv­a­lent fix­ture last term.

Fol­low­ing that, it is the Bay­ern Mu­nich re­turn leg fol­lowed by Barcelona at home and away to De­portivo La Coruna, re­ju­ve­nated un­der new man­ager Pepe Mel. In their ninth game of April, Madrid en­ter­tain Va­len­cia, who beat them 2-1 in Fe­bru­ary.

It is go­ing to be tough for both sides where both sets of fans would only con­sider a Primera Liga ti­tle or a Cham­pi­ons League crown as be­ing a suc­cess­ful sea­son.

Barca are in the Copa del Rey fi­nal, and they won the Span­ish Su­per Cup, while Real Madrid have al­ready won the Euro­pean Su­per Cup and the Fifa Club World Cup this sea­son, but the real judge­ments will be made in May.

And what hap­pens in April will go a long way to de­cid­ing that.

It is a shame that Sevilla have faded from the ti­tle frame, sit­ting six points be­hind Barca in third. They are no longer in Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion and are free to con­cen­trate on the league.

April sees them with a rel­a­tively easy run of fix­tures with five games against teams in the bot­tom seven.

But they also have the small mat­ter of a game at Camp Nou next Wed­nes­day.

Reuters

Zine­dine Zi­dane has a busy April ahead.

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