La Liga Weekend Preview: Basque Derby, Valencia’s Mestalla Curse and Real’s Scoring Draught

La Liga returns for its final instalment before the international break as both Barcelona and Real Madrid look to get back to winning ways. Ernesto Valverde’s side travel to Valencia while Los Blancos are in the Basque Country to face Alavés. As well as that, it’s the small matter of a Basque derby between Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad at San Mamés.

 

Friday:

Athletic Bilbao vs Real Sociedad, San Mamés, 20:00 GMT

Neither side have started their seasons in inspiring form. Athletic are without a win in their last five games while La Real have managed just two wins in total.

They last met at San Mamés in December in a dull affair that finished goalless. Fear not, the meeting at Anoeta produced four goals as Real Sociedad ran out 3-1 winners.

Iñigo Martínez, who controversially made the switch from San Sebastián to San Mamés in the summer, will be unable to face his former club for the first time with a thigh injury.

This match is one of the match’s in focus this week, to read the full preview click here.

 

Saturday:

Girona vs Eibar, Estadi Montilivi, 12:00 GMT

After an impressive 10th place finish in their debut La Liga campaign, it seems like Girona are once again punching above their weight after a decent start to the season. Eibar, however, are struggling to get going points wise despite a promising draw away at Atlético Madrid in matchday four.

It’s the Basque side who have the bragging rights when it comes to previous fixtures. Eibar managed four goals on both occasions against Girona last season in their first meetings for three years.

 

Getafe vs Levante, Coliseum Alfonso Pérez, 15:15 GMT

Getafe have made a promising start to La Liga and currently sit in the top half of the table after just two defeats so far. Levante ended a dreadful run of results with a much-needed win over Alavés last weekend and will look to push further away from the relegation zone.

You just can’t separate Getafe and Levante; after several years together in La Liga, they dropped down to Spain’s second tier before coming back up together two seasons ago. In fact, with two wins each and two draws in their last six meetings, it’s incredibly hard to separate them.

 

Alavés vs Real Madrid, Mendizorrotza, 17:30 GMT

Julen Lopetegui’s side are struggling in their post-Ronaldo existence and, after their 1-0 defeat against CSKA Moscow, they are now 319 minutes without a goal in all competitions. Meanwhile, Alavés sit just three points behind their opponents after a strong start to the season.

Los Blancos have won each of their last four previous meetings since Alavés were promoted in 2016, scoring at least twice on every occasion.

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Leganés vs Rayo Vallecano, Estadio Municipal de Butarque, 19:45 GMT

Despite being just seven weeks into the La Liga season, this one already feels like a relegation six-pointer. Rayo are without a win in three while Leganés have taken just three points out of a possible 15 since the start of September, although all those three points came in a stunning victory over Barcelona.

This is an extremely rare fixture in Spain with these two not having met for almost 12 years. Rayo were the victors that day in the third tier of Spanish football.

 

Sunday:

Real Valladolid vs Huesca, Estadio José Zorrilla, 11:00 GMT

The early kick-off on Sunday sees La Liga debutants Huesca head west to face Real Valladolid. Both clubs were promoted last season and, as you would expect, both teams have struggled to score goals thus far.

After a stunning opening win against Eibar, Huesca are winless in six while Valladolid have won each of their last two games. Huesca have won three of their last four meetings with Sunday’s opponents including a 2-1 win at Estadio José Zorrilla in 2016.

 

Atlético Madrid vs Real Betis, Wanda Metropolitano, 15:15 GMT

After a tricky start to September, Atléti have picked up the pace in recent weeks with wins against Getafe and Huesca before earning a point in the Madrid Derby last weekend. Betis are unbeaten in their last six league games and are behind their opponents on goal difference only.

Diego Simeone’s side haven’t lost to Betis since 2011 when goals from Alejandro Pozuelo and Roque Santa Cruz earned the visitors a 2-0 victory at the Vicente Calderón. A goalless draw in this fixture last season doesn’t bode well if you’re expecting goals in this one.

 

Espanyol vs Villarreal, RCDE Stadium, 17:30 GMT

Like many other teams in La Liga this season, both sides have had mixed starts to their respective campaigns. Wins against Valencia, Levante and Eibar have propelled Espanyol up to 7th place while Villarreal followed a 3-0 win at Athletic with a 1-0 home defeat to Real Valladolid.

Espanyol have failed to find the net in three of their last four meetings with the Yellow Submarine, with the Catalan club last winning this fixture in 2015.

Villarreal captain Bruno Soriano could make his first appearance for nearly 8 months after a lengthy knee injury.

 

Sevilla vs Celta Vigo, Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, 17:30 GMT

Sevilla are on a roll in La Liga at the moment after three straight wins; only Barcelona have scored more goals than they have this season. Meanwhile, Celta are winless in their last four since a 2-0 triumph over Atlético at the start of September. However, the Galician side have only been beaten once since the start of the campaign.

Over the past couple of seasons, Sevilla have dominated proceedings in this fixture but, last April, things changed. Celta romped to a 4-0 win at Balaídos against a struggling Sevilla whose focus was on the Champions League.

 

Valencia vs Barcelona, Mestalla, 19:45 GMT

The marquee game of the weekend comes in Valencia as a faltering Barcelona come to town. Ernesto Valverde’s team are winless in their last three outings while their opponents managed just their first win of the season last week against Real Sociedad.

An Ivan Rakitic own goal and Santi Mina were on the scoresheet the last time Los Che beat their Catalan counterparts in 2016. In fact, Barcelona are unbeaten at the Mestalla for over 10 years with Valencia’s last home win coming in 2007 thanks to goals from Angulo and David Silva.

This match is one of the match’s in focus this week, to read the full preview click here.

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