BARCELONA, Spain - In what is expected to be the most combative match of the weekend in the Spanish

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BARCELONA, Spain - In what is expected to be the most combative match of the weekend in the Spanish league, players are already trading barbs. Cheap Jerseys Free Shipping .Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves set the tone by questioning Atletico Madrids physical style of play, and Jorge Koke Resurreccion responded that he and his teammates were used to such criticism and were only focused on winning.The teams will be playing for second place and a possible shot at the league lead.Also, Barcelona visits Rayo Vallecano looking to bounce back from its 3-2 loss at Paris Saint-Germain, and Real Madrid hosts a slumping Athletic Bilbao.Here are some things to should know about this weeks Spanish leagues matches:___WAR OF WORDSChances are it wont be the prettiest of matches, but Atletico Madrids visit to Valencia could be the rounds most prickly, if not hot-tempered, contest.(Atletico) is a team that competes with you physically, they test the limits of the referees, Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves said. We have to match them in this. We can have a good game if we do that. Its an important game against the defending champion. They are favourites but we can be strong at home.Koke just wants to concentrate on football.Well, everyone says we are violent, Koke said. We just try to focus on playing our style of football, which is to go out on the pitch and get the win. We arent concerned with what the rest say.Valencia enters the round ahead of Atletico on goal difference in second place, two points behind Barcelona. Both are unbeaten this season in the league and Atletico will be encouraged, and also worn down, by its 1-0 win over Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday.___AGAIN THE DefenceScoring has not been a problem for Barcelona. Thats why coach Luis Enrique put his emphasis on shoring up a defence that the club reinforced with its first group of off-season signings in years.Barcelona started the season in superb fashion by scoring 18 goals while not conceding one through seven straight wins.But while Lionel Messi and Neymar did their part by scoring goals against PSG on Tuesday, Barcelonas defence allowed its first goals of the season and dug a hole that not even the two South American stars could help it escape.Losses always make you worry, Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano said. We need to correct our mistakes and keep improving.Rayos main threat is forward Leo Baptistao, who is enjoying his return on loan from Atletico to the club where he broke out two seasons ago. The Brazilian has scored two goals in each of Rayos last two wins.___RONALDOS HEELCristiano Ronaldo has scored 14 goals in 10 appearances this season, and his 10 goals lead the league. But the forward finished Wednesdays match favouring his left leg.The club hasnt said if he is injured.Madrid has struggled without Ronaldo this season, losing the Spanish Super Cup to Atletico when Ronaldo wasnt fully fit and falling 4-2 at Real Sociedad when he missed the game because of injury.___BILBAOS BLUESThis was supposed to be the season when Bilbao consolidated its position as one of Spains best teams after a fourth-place finish earned the club its first Champions League berth in 16 seasons.Instead, Bilbao has slumped since eliminating Napoli in the playoffs to reach the group stage of the Champions League, winning only one game of its other eight games.Bilbao hasnt won at the Santiago Bernabeu since 2005.___CELTA ON RISECelta Vigo has found life after the exit of coach Luis Enrique and is flourishing under replacement Eduardo Berizzo.Led by forward Manuel Nolito Agudos four goals, it is one of four undefeated teams left in the league and has won its last two games.Celta has refined the passing attack installed by Luis Enrique and Berizzo, a former Celta defender, has made it more reliable at the back.Celta is in sixth place, level on points with Madrid, and hosts seventh-place Villarreal on Sunday. Cheap Jerseys Authentic . Not bad for a defenceman. The goal, that is. Although the shuffling dance steps werent bad, either. Barrie scored 55 seconds into overtime, Semyon Varlamov stopped 29 shots, and the Avalanche moved a step closer to their first playoff berth in four years with a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night. Cheap Jerseys 2020 . DeGrom outpitched Jake Peavy in a tantalizing hitless duel that carried into the seventh inning Saturday night before the New York Mets broke loose and beat the San Francisco Giants 4-2. . Betancourt was 2-5 with a 4.08 ERA and 16 saves for the Rockies last season before tearing a ligament in his pitching elbow. He considered undergoing platelet-rich plasma therapy to fix his arm, but announced in August his decision to have Tommy John surgery.A funny thing about the Tour de France is that it can give its competitors the most fabulous terrain to ride over, but it cannot force them to race. Instead of being the very tricky day full of traps and surprises that Tour teams feared and organizers hoped for, Stage Three of the 100th edition proved to be a bit of a dud: 10 out of 10 visually, with some of the most stunning coastal scenery ever visited by the 110-year-old race, but barely 2 out of 10 for drama. In fact, as pretty as Corsica -- Frances "island of beauty" -- was, riders were just as happy to whiz past it. "Twisty roads like that along the coast, stunning scenery, and Im sure it made for great shots from the helicopter," said race favourite Chris Froome. "But thats not what we were interested in." So be it. In a three-week test of endurance, its simply physically impossible for every stage to be a classic and provide great excitement. There are days, like on Monday, when the peloton decides the priority is to get from A to B safely, get back to the hotel, massage, eat and sleep. To have success at the Tour, you first have to survive it. "The race is always what the riders make of it," the Tour director, Christian Prudhomme, said philosophically. Jan Bakelants was happy. The Belgian rider started the day in the yellow jersey that he won with a clever and gutsy spurt of riding on Sunday, and he will wear it again for at least another day, during the team time trial on Stage Four on Tuesday. The teams will race against the clock, heading off one after the other in aerodynamic helmets, on a pancake-flat, 25-kilometre course in Nice, past the coastal towns airport and along its famous beachside avenue, the Promenade des Anglais. With that very technical and quick ordeal awaiting them, and because coastal headwinds slowed the riders, none of the 21 other teams could be bothered to really try hard to take the lead on Monday from Bakelants. His RadioShack teammates did a grand job of protecting him. They rode much of the stage at the front of the pack, not letting breakaway riders get too far ahead and discouraging other teams from any thoughts of making a concerted assault. Their management of the stage helped make for dull racing -- but it kept Bakelants in yellow. "We never panicked," he said. "We managed the gaps." But Tuesday will more than likely be his last day in the leaders precious jersey. There are 71 riders just one second behind him in the standings. One of them on a team that time trials better than RadioShack will be in yellow next. "We have good riders but haventt really trained for the team time trial," said Bakelants. Cheap Jerseys From China. . "It will be tough to keep the jersey, but Ive already had it two days and thats special ... Its extraordinary to have worn it." At the end of the stage, in the final 15 kilometres, the racing picked up. Several riders tried and failed to get away from the chasing pack. It came down to a sprint in the last 500 metres. Simon Gerrans, an Australian, threw his front wheel over the line just before Peter Sagan, a Slovakian. Ryder Hesjedal of Victoria is in 26th spot overall, while David Velleux of Cap-Rouge, Que., is 117th, and Svein Tuft of Langley, B.C., is back in 170th. On paper, Stage Three looked daunting: 145.5 kilometres of narrow roads as sinewy as a blood vessel, with very little flat. On television, the coves, the white beaches and cliffs plunging into turquoise seas looked incredible. The riders strung out like a necklace of coloured pearls as they sped along the coastline on a succession of bends so twisty that, among those who rode the route by car, they made queasy mush of iron stomachs. That is why Corsica paid the Tour to come here: To make it look good. The island gave three million euros to the Tours owners for the right to host the first three stages of the 100th edition, and paid another two million euros in other expenses, said Paul Giacobbi, who heads the regional government. That bought "hours and hours and hours" of worldwide television coverage and "one billion spectators," he said. The logistics were complicated. The Tour was transporting itself on seven ships back across the Mediterranean to the French mainland overnight on Monday so it could continue less than 24 hours later on Stage Four, in Nice. After Mondays trek from the port of Ajaccio, two planes whisked the riders quickly away from the finish in Calvi, so they would sleep in hotels on the French coast that same night. This was the Tours first visit to Corsica. Both came away happy. Prudhomme, the race director, said viewing figures in France for the Corsican leg of the race are the highest theyve been in a decade. "That is because of the 100th edition and the beauty of Corsica," he said. Not that Froome and the other contenders for overall victory much cared. They were happy simply to be heading back in one piece to the French mainland -- where the Tour will be decided on stages in the Pyrenees and Alps far more decisive than anything Corsica could offer. "Im quite relieved to be heading off Corsica now," said Froome. "Hopefully, the race will settle down a little bit." ' ' '

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