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Football | Spain

Barcelona wary of Granada



Barcelona full-back Adriano has said they won't be taking their trip to Granada this weekend lightly, despite holding a 12-point advantage at the top of the table.

The Catalans stretched their lead with a 6-1 demolition of Getafe last weekend and the Brazilian believes it is better to maintain that kind of form heading into their Champions League tie against AC Milan next Wednesday than rest players.

"We know we have a good advantage over Atletico and Real Madrid, but we cannot forget the league," he said.

"If we take our foot off the accelerator they will be there. We cannot stop. Every game we go for it 100 percent.

"We know we are entering the final straight of the Champions League, but we have an important match on Saturday," he added, with the southern side having beaten Real Madrid and Deportivo in the last fortnight.

"It will be a difficult match, they are in very good form coming off the back of two consecutive victories."

However, with matches against Sevilla and a Copa del Rey semifinal second-leg against Madrid to follow their trip to Italy in midweek, the 28-year-old accepts it will be a tiring spell for his side.

"The calendar is very difficult and this month it does not stop," he said.

"The truth is when there are more rest days between matches, above all the important ones, you are thankful for it."

Barca will be without David Villa on Saturday as he has been taken back into hospital with kidney stone pain, while Xavi remains on the sidelines despite returning to light training on Wednesday.

Granada welcome the league leaders in the midst of their best spell of the season with three wins from four games and, following their 1-0 defeat of Madrid in their last home outing, former Barca striker Nolito believes they can spring another surprise.

"We are preparing for a normal match. The same way that we prepared against Madrid or against Depor," he said.

"Football is 11 against 11. We can beat them. They have to lose someday."

Granada coach Lucas Alcaraz will have to do without Dani Benitez though as the winger has been ruled out for six weeks after undergoing a hernia operation earlier in the week.

Real Madrid meanwhile will try to keep up their chase of Barcelona when they host capital neighbours Rayo Vallecano on Sunday night.

Rayo did Real a favour when they beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 last weekend to reduce Atleti's advantage over Jose Mourinho's men to just four points.

And with Rayo riding high themselves in sixth place, midfielder Roberto Trashorras believes they can claim another sensational three points.

"We are going with the intention of playing a good game. We are not going to take it as lost and the first impression is that we believe we can win," he told the club's website.

"We need to try and play our football and go there full of hope."

Mourinho is expected to give Xabi Alonso a rest after he played through the pain of a back injury in Wednesday's 1-1 draw with Manchester United in the Champions League and Madrid are also without the suspended Alvaro Arbeloa, Luka Modric and Gonzalo Higuain.

Atletico meanwhile will be able to recall Diego Costa from suspension as they aim to win for the first time in six away league games when they travel to Valladolid on Sunday afternoon.

Malaga entertain Athletic Bilbao at La Rosaleda on Saturday, while Valencia are at home to struggling Mallorca on Sunday, and the meeting of Espanyol and Betis brings together two of La Liga's form teams.

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