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La Liga schedule and preview, Week 16: Barcelona, Atlético Madrid can make up some ground

With Real Madrid away for the Club World Cup, Barca and Atléti can close the gap at the top entering the winter break.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Real Madrid will enter the winter break as the top club in La Liga despite the fact they don't play this week. Los Blancos are participating in the FIFA Club World Cup -- they face San Lorenzo in the final on Saturday -- so their match for the week is pushed back to early February.

With the leaders idle, both Barcelona and Atlético Madrid have a chance to make up some points after their slip-ups last week. Barca face 18th-placed Córdoba at the Camp Nou, a match they'll be expected to win comfortably. Atléti are hoping to bounce back from a disappointing loss against Villarreal as they travel to face inconsistent Athletic Club.

Friday's matchup between Celta Vigo and Almería probably isn't going to be on anyone's radar, but it's still worth mentioning. Is it because Celta have lost four straight matches and Almería have lost three in a row? Nope. It's the return of Juan Ignacio Martinez to the top flight after he got Real Valladolid relegated last season. Hopefully things will go better this time around for JIM.

Just a reminder, these are final matches in La Liga for 2014. The league will take a winter break and return to action on Jan. 3.

Here's the full schedule for the final match week of the year.

Friday, Dec. 19

Celta Vigo vs. Almería | 2:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 p.m. CEST

Saturday, Dec. 20

Barcelona vs. Córdoba | 10 a.m. ET, 4 p.m. CEST

Levante vs. Real Sociedad | Noon ET, 6 p.m. CEST

Eibar vs. Valencia | 2 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. CEST

Rayo Vallecano vs. Espanyol | 4 p.m. ET, 10 p.m. CEST

Sunday, Dec. 21

Villarreal vs. Deportivo La Coruña | 6 a.m. ET, 12 p.m. CEST

Granada vs. Getafe | 11 a.m. ET, 5 p.m. CEST

Elche vs. Málaga | 1 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. CEST

Athletic Club vs. Atlético Madrid | 3 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. CEST

Real Madrid vs. Sevilla | Postponed to 2/3/15 due to Madrid's participation in the Club World Cup