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Levante, Valencia ready for derby

Levante lost its grip on first place in La Liga last weekend, and hosts Valencia on Saturday in the Valencia derby with a lot on the line for the European hopefuls.

Levante finally slipped behind Real Madrid and Barcelona after its first loss, and although it's just two points off the pace, the reality that keeping pace with the top two clubs might not be possible.

However, a top-four finish and a spot in the Champions League next season will remain a realistic target for the surprise club, which had seven wins and two draws in its first nine games.

Osasuna ended the club's unbeaten run last weekend with a 2-0 result, leaving Barcelona as the only unbeaten in La Liga. Valencia is just two points behind its local rival, as it has six wins and three draws through 10 games.

Levante's early-season form included a 1-0 win over Real Madrid and a win over Valencia would add more validity to its prospects.

Valencia defeated Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League 3-1 on Tuesday, and could still win its group. But like Levante, cracking the top two in Spain can not be the main target.

But a win over Levante this week would lift Valencia to third place.

Real Madrid defeated French side Lyon 2-0 in the Champions League this week to remain perfect after four matches, and Jose Mourinho's side hosts Osasuna this Sunday without a few key players.

"Marcelo won't be fit to play on Sunday and Fabio (Coentrao) may also miss the match. We don't cry over players who cannot use," Mourinho said. "(Alvaro) Arbeloa may be ready and if he isn't we'll look for a solution.

"Marcelo and Kaka definitely won't play against Osasuna."

Barcelona also won in the Champions League, 4-0 over Viktoria Plzen, as it was able to take control of its group. Lionel Messi scored a hat trick, giving him six goals in his last two matches. Barca visits Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

"It is important to win that game," Barca goalie Victor Valdes said. "We know how intense Athletic are under Bielsa, they create pressure, they play without inhibitions."

Also Saturday, Mallorca hosts Sevilla, and Real Betis hosts Malaga.

On Sunday, Granada hosts Racing, Real Zaragoza hosts Sporting Gijon, Espanyol hosts Villarreal, Rayo Vallecano hosts Real Sociedad and Getafe hosts Atletico Madrid.

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