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LaLiga: Real Madrid eye recovery against Celta after Barcelona loss; Espanyol take on Real Sociedad

LaLiga returns on April 2 with Real Madrid visiting Celta Vigo without coach Carlo Ancelotti after he tested positive for Covid-19. Madrid has had two weeks to stew over its humbling 4-0 loss at home to Barcelona before the international break. Now they seek a win to maintain its comfortable lead of La Liga before it prepares for next week’s Champions League clash at Chelsea. 

League top scorer Karim Benzema missed the match against Barcelona with a left-leg injury. Madrid lead Sevilla by nine points. 

Atlético Madrid and Villarreal are also in action before starting their respective Champions League quarterfinals. Atlético host Alavés seeking a sixth consecutive victory in the domestic competition before heading to Manchester City. 

Villarreal visit bottom side Levante to warm up for its home game against Bayern Munich. Mallorca also visit Getafe needing a win to escape the relegation battle and pull level on points with the hosts.

On Monday, Espanyol will be facing Real Sociedad and eyes will be on the duo of Sergi Darder and Raul de Tomas, who have been growing as an attacking threat at Espanyol.

In the last matchday, Espanyol took on RCD Mallorca in what was a key duel for the Catalan club to try to pull away from the bottom end of the table. When the game was deadlocked, Darder produced a moment of magic to assist his teammate R.D.T. The striker from Madrid, like all good penalty box predators, made the most of the opportunity and converted past Sergio Rico. It was yet another goal crafted by this strike partnership, one which earned a 1-0 victory for Los Pericos. 

That was the fourth assist Darder has given the forward this season. Only Karim Benzema and Vinícius have assisted each other more than that so far this campaign. R.D.T. now has 14 goals to his name in total, with this tally placing him as the leading Spanish scorer in LaLiga and the second overall, only behind Benzema. 

Meanwhile, Darder has scored three goals and played seven assists so far this season, making him one of the leading assist providers in the division despite the fact he plays further away from goal. The Catalan midfielder has scored twice and assisted four goals over his past six matches, with three of these assists coming across the last three matchdays, one after the other. 

Perhaps the standout performance for this magnificent duo came in El Derbi de Barcelona, against FC Barcelona. Xavi Hernández’s team went ahead early on, however, Darder scored an equalizer with a shot from outside of the area, with R.D.T. assisting him. Later in the game, as if repaying a favour, they switched roles and the midfielder played a perfect ball into space for the striker to go on and ripple the back of the net, with that game ultimately finishing 2-2. 

They have now played 77 matches together since R.D.T. arrived at the RCDE Stadium in January of 2020, winning 35 of these outings. They’ve even suffered a relegation together and celebrated a promotion. 

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