After the international break, La Liga resumes this weekend with a big match between league leaders Real Madrid and third-place Valencia at the Estadio Mestalla.
Coming off guiding Portugal to Euro 2012, Cristiano Ronaldo will look to pick up where he left off at league level, after smashing a hat-trick in Real’s 7-1 belting of Osasuna on November 6.
The forward took home the Pichichi as La Liga’s top-scorer last campaign, and his form – combined with that of Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema – has seen Real go on a 10-match winning run in all competitions.
However, they will need to cope without the creativity of Angel di Maria, who will be unable to add to his 10 assists because of a hamstring injury suffered in the win over Osasuna.
With former Real striker Roberto Soldado (six goals) netting regularly, Valencia sit third and are unbeaten at home.
Meanwhile, Barcelona will hope Real slip up and they can record what should be a straightforward win over Real Zaragoza at Nou Camp.
The European champions remain the only undefeated team in the league but, after two draws in four games, they are behind Real and their fierce rivals also have a better goal difference by four.
Levante – who sat atop La Liga before stumbling and allowing Real to succeed them – are aiming to avoid a third-straight loss when they travel to the Vicente Calderon to meet Atletico Madrid.
Sevilla will want to close the gap on fourth-placed Levante by breaking their four-game winless run when they host Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, while mid-table sides Real Betis and Villarreal do battle.
Real Sociedad host Espanyol, Sporting Gijon and Getafe can move further clear of the drop zone when they go head to head, while Granada and Mallorca can do likewise when they meet.
In a mid-table clash, Osasuna will be out to bounce back from their thrashing at the hands of Real Madrid when they host Rayo Vallecano, while big-spending Malaga travel to Racing Santander on Monday.