After a sluggish start to the season Real Madrid looks to be clicking into gear at just the right time as it heads to arch rival Barcelona hoping to reduce the sizeable gap that has opened up between the two clubs.
While Barca was enjoying a perfect start to the Primera Division season, Madrid picked up just one win from its opening four games and for a couple of 24-hour periods found itself a massive 11 points behind
That gap is still at eight points going into the seventh round of fixtures this weekend, but reigning champion Madrid at least appears to have put its early-season malaise behind it now.
The midweek 4-1 Champions League win over Ajax was Madrid's fourth successive win in all competitions, while last week it also thrashed Millonarios 8-0 in the Santiago Bernabeu Trophy.
"The team was focussed (against Ajax), playing at their best with good individual movement and as a team. We played a very good match and we have to keep going.
"We cannot win every match but with this attitude, commitment, and approach to matches, individual quality becomes collective quality and it is normal that the results start to come and that the team improves."
While Madrid is just finding its form, Barca has started life under new coach Vilanova in magnificent fashion with nine wins from 10 games in total, with its only setback being a defeat to Madrid in the second leg of the Spanish Supercopa.
Vilanova, who has lost captain
The game in
Along with Barca, those two clubs boast the only remaining unbeaten records in the division and Atletico is only two points off top spot after winning its last five games.
Local pride is at stake both in
Osasuna is second-bottom with four points while Athletic, which last season reached the Europa League and
Elsewhere, rock-bottom Espanyol heads to Real Valladolid looking to improve on its one-point haul, Rayo Vallecano hosts Deportivo La Coruna, Getafe goes to Real Zaragoza, Real Betis takes on Real Sociedad and Real Mallorca meets Granada.
Also, fourth-placed Sevilla heads to
Kashiwa Reysol sealed its progression in the AFC Champions League with a 5-2 aggregate win over Korea Republic club Jeonbuk Motors.