Bilbao, Spain – Even with the La Liga title all but secured, Barcelona still will face a great of pressure when it heads to San Mames to take on Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.
The Catalans need just six points from their final six matches to clinch the title, a total that they likely can amass in their next two fixtures.
But the pressure facing the Spanish giants stems from their collapse in Germany on Tuesday.
Barcelona was handed a humiliating 4-0 defeat by Bayern Munich in Champions League play midweek, leaving the Catalans to lick their wounds ahead of the second leg.
Reverberations of the defeat already have been felt as speculation has mounted surrounding manager Tito Vilanova's job security, but Barcelona vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu squashed those rumors by stating that he will return to the sidelines for his second season at the helm.
"He will manage Barca next year," Bartomeu told Cataluyna Radio on Wednesday night. "We believe in him. It was not easy to take on the transition and he has done it very well."
Saturday's clash at Bilbao not only serves as another step toward the La Liga title, but also as a chance for Barcelona to prepare physically and psychologically for the second leg against Bayern at Camp Nou on Wednesday.
Real Madrid finds itself in a similar situation. The Merengues also were humbled by a German club, faltering in a 4-1 loss at Borussia Dortmund in Champions League play midweek.
But Jose Mourinho's side faces a tougher test than Vilanova's as Real heads to the Vicente Calderon on Saturday to face Atletico Madrid in the latest installment of the Madrid derby.
Rounding out Saturday's La Liga action, Levante will attempt to snap a three- game losing skid when it welcomes Celta Vigo to the Ciutat de Valencia and Real Zaragoza squares off against Mallorca in a relegation "six-pointer" at La Romareda.
The race for fourth place heats up this weekend with three contending teams resuming league play on Sunday.
Fourth-place Real Sociedad leads fifth-place Valencia in the table by two points, but Valencia can move ahead of La Real with a victory at the Anoeta.
Malaga enters the weekend in sixth place and will hope to take advantage of dropped points by claiming a victory over Getafe at La Rosaleda.
Also on Sunday, Espanyol takes on Granada at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat and Valladolid welcomes Sevilla to the Jose Zorrilla.
Monday's lone contests sees Real Betis face Deportivo at the Benito Villamarin while Friday's match ended with Rayo Vallecano and Osasuna splitting the points in a 2-2 draw.