Barca hopes to build on recent form at Gijon

Barcelona once again appears to have found top 0 scores in its last two matches, and the top of La Liga is in sight this weekend.

Barcelona is still unbeaten in Spain, but two draws from its first four league matches left some doubt about the European champions' dominance this season.

But Barca has a recent history of early-season slip-ups, and Sunday presents a tricky match at El Molinon against Sporting Gijon.

Barcelona has not lost in its last two trips to Gijon, but a 1-0 win and a tie are not reminders of the team that has been the best in the world.

However, Lionel Messi continues to show why he is the top player in the world, and two more goals on Wednesday, when Barca won 5-0 over BATE in the Champions League, followed a hat trick against Atletico to give him a league-high eight.

Barca's Adriano remembers the most recent games at Gijon, though, and believes this weekend will provide another test. One that is even more important as the international break looms.

"We suffered there last year and struggled to win two years ago," Adriano said this week. "It is a key game, because it comes just before the ... break."

Pedro scored the lone goal two years ago at Gijon, and David Villa scored late one season ago to snatch a draw for the three-time defending La Liga champion.

But after the recent form against Atletico and BATE, Barcelona has its eyes on the top spot and could overtake Betis, which lost for the first time last week and hosts Levante on Sunday.

Real Madrid also plays Sunday, as Jose Mourinho and his club visit Espanyol in Barcelona after a 3-0 win over Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Although Real has two wins from two fixtures in the Champions League, it has a loss and a draw through five weeks in Spain. However, the right results may be enough to lift Real to the top of the table this weekend as well.

"We know the league is not easy because it has many quality teams. Barcelona are a strong side, but we're united and want to win the league," Real defender Alvaro Arbeloa said.

"I think we're playing much better than last season. We have to keep going and think about our next game and about playing good football."

Atletico Madrid hosts unbeaten Sevilla in another of Sunday's games, with both sides hoping to emerge from the game with an edge on one of its top rivals for a European berth. Real Sociedad hosts Athletic Bilbao in Sunday's other game.

On Saturday, Villarreal will try to rebound from another Champions League loss - 2-0 to Napoli on Tuesday - when it hosts Real Zaragoza, while Valencia hopes to build on a 1-1 draw with Chelsea in the Champions League against Granada at home.

Osasuna hosts Mallorca, Racing hosts Rayo Vallecano and Malaga hosts Getafe in Saturday's other matches.