Soccer-LaLiga leaders Real hope to build momentum as Sevilla come calling

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By Fernando Kallas

MADRID - Real Madrid head into Sunday's LaLiga encounter with Sevilla hoping to stamp their authority on the title race by defeating one of their main rivals and building on their one-point lead over surprise package Real Sociedad at the top of the table.

A dominant Real cruised to a 4-1 away victory over Granada last Sunday, while second-placed Real Sociedad and Sevilla were both held to draws in their matches against Valencia and Alaves respectively, to hand the advantage to Carlo Ancelotti's side.

The Italian will hope his team, who have 30 points from 13 matches, can build momentum before they take on Athletic Bilbao next week in a game that was postponed earlier in the campaign.

Real will be high on confidence amid a good run of results that includes their win over Moldovan outfit Sheriff Tiraspol in the Champions League that secured their passage into the last 16 of Europe's elite club competition.

Their traditional rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid will look to bounce back after disappointing results last time out.

Barca were held to a scoreless draw at home against Benfica in Europe and Atletico's home loss to Italian side AC Milan left them in danger of being eliminated from the Champions League.

New Barca manager Xavi Hernandez faces a tricky test against Unai Emery's Villarreal on Saturday.

Europa League champions Villarreal are 12th on 16 points from 13 games, closer to the relegation zone than to the leaders, and the pressure is mounting on Emery.

The Spaniard had upset supporters earlier this season by not immediately dismissing his links to English Premier League side Newcastle United before eventually issuing a statement.

Defending champions Atletico are fourth, four points behind city rivals Real after 13 games. A win against Cadiz on Sunday will go a long way in keeping them in the title race.

(Reporting by Fernando Kallas; Editing by Shrivathsa Sridhar)

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