Leaders Face Holders at Camp Nou: La Liga Weekend Preview

Spain’s top flight returns this weekend after the two-week international break which has seen La Liga’s stars go far and wide to play for their countries. Club football is back with a bang in Spain as the leaders Sevilla head to champions Barcelona in a top of the table clash at the Nou Camp while Real Madrid look to find the net for the first time since the 22nd of September. Here’s a full preview of the weekend’s fixtures:

 

Friday

Celta Vigo vs Alavés, Balaídos, 19:45 GMT

After a good start to the season, the hosts are winless in five going into Friday’s fixture against Alavés. The Basque visitors are on a high after a historic win over Real Madrid last time out as they sit as high as 6th in the La Liga table.

It’s two wins each for Celta and Alavés in their previous four league games with the Galician side winning both of their home matches 1-0 against Friday’s opposition. A win for Alavés would send them top of the table heading into Saturday’s fixtures.

 

Saturday

Real Madrid vs Levante, Santiago Bernabéu, 12:00 GMT

Julen Lopetegui is under significant pressure going into this one with reports in the Spanish media of a phone call to Antonio Conte over the possibility of taking over. Los Blancos are winless in their last three league games and have not scored a goal in all competitions for over eight hours. Their opponents have won their last two games and sit just outside the top half.

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Levante stopped the rot last season in terms of facing Real Madrid. Their two league draws last campaign followed nine game losing run stretching back to 2011. Arouna Kone was the game’s only scorer the last time Levante picked up all three points against Saturday’s opponents while they haven’t won at the Bernabéu since 2007.

 

Valencia vs Leganés, Mestalla, 15:15 GMT

The second Valencia/Madrid match-up of the day comes from the Mestalla look to build on an encouraging draw with Barcelona two weeks ago. Los Che have lost just one league game so far this season but six draws mean they languish down in 14th place. Leganés have a famous win against Barcelona to their name but are currently occupying the final relegation spot in 18th.

Valencia have won their last six games, four in the league and two in the cup, against Saturday’s opponents. Leganes have failed to score against Marcelino’s side since they earned promotion to La Liga two seasons ago.

 

Villarreal vs Atlético Madrid, Estadio de la Cerámica, 17:30 GMT

Villarreal came into the international break on the back of disappointing losses at the hands of Real Valladolid and Espanyol. They sit just above the bottom three and in need of what would be just their third win of the season. Their opponents are unbeaten since the 1st of September and have won five of their last six games in all competitions.

Villarreal have won each of their last three meetings with Diego Simeone’s side at the Cerémica, conceding just once. In fact, a win on Saturday would give Atleti their first win over the Yellow Submarine since 2015.

 

Barcelona vs Sevilla, Nou Camp, 19:45 GMT

The fixture of the weekend comes from the Catalan capital as last season’s La Liga winners host current leaders Sevilla. Ernesto Valverde is looking for his first league win since the 15th of September after three draws and a loss in their last four league matches. Sevilla meanwhile have shot to the top after four straight league wins, including a 3-0 thrashing of Real Madrid.

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Barcelona are undefeated against Sevilla since 2015, winning nine out of their last ten meetings in all competitions. A 5-0 thumping of their Andalusian opponents in last season’s Copa Del Rey has since been followed by a Super Cup win in Morocco. Sevilla last won a league game at the Nou Camp in 2002 when goals from Javier Casquero and Mariano Toedtli secured a shock 3-0 win.

 

Sunday

Rayo Vallecano vs Getafe, Estadio de Vallecas, 11:00 GMT

It’s not quite Real vs Atletico but this is still classed as a Madrid Derby. Both sides come into Sunday’s early kick-off without a win in their last four games with the hosts currently occupying a place in the relegation zone.

Rayo have won three of the last four meetings between the two clubs in Spain’s top flight but Getafe were victors last time these two faced off in the Segunda Division. Javi Guerra has netted for Sunday’s hosts in the last two league meetings between the sides but the striker has found himself frozen out by Michel so far this season.

 

Eibar vs Athletic Club, Ipurúa, 15:15 GMT

Athletic face fellow Basque opponents for the second match day in a row after defeat at the hands of Real Sociedad before the international break. Eibar tasted victory for the first time in three games with a thrilling win over Girona last time out and currently occupy 12th place in the table while their visitors are perched a place above the relegation zone.

Eibar have managed to beat their opponents from Bilbao just once since their promotion to La Liga in 2014. A 2-0 win in 2015 was followed by four straight defeats before a 1-1 draw at San Mamés last season. Athletic have kept a clean sheet on each of their last two visits to Ipurúa.

 

Huesca vs Espanyol, El Alcoraz, 17:30 GMT

La Liga rookies Huesca are in desperate need of points after five defeats in their last six games. Since their 8-2 drubbing at the Nou Camp at the start of September, they’ve managed to find the net just once in five games and have scored just one home goal all season. On the other hand, Espanyol have started well with four wins and two draws from their opening eight games.

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Both clubs go into this one with a clean slate, having not faced each other in recent history.

 

Real Betis vs Real Valladolid, Benito Villamarín, 19:45 GMT

Sunday’s hosts go into this one as La Liga’s lowest scorers this season with just five goals in eight games. Despite their poor record in front of goal, they sit in a comfortable 8th place after two wins in their last three outings. Valladolid are in fine form as well, with three wins on the bounce, and currently sit a place above Betis in the table.

These two haven’t met in a competitive fixture since 2015 when Ruben Castro’s hat-trick helped the Andalusians to a 4-0 win. In fact, Betis have managed to net at least three goals in Valladolid’s last four visits to Villamarin. The only exception being a 0-0 draw between the two in 2013.

 

Monday

Real Sociedad vs Girona, Anoeta, 19:45 GMT

La Real head into Monday night’s game off the back of an impressive win over rivals Athletic Club in the Basque Country Derby two weeks ago. Those three points moved them into the top half of the table while Girona sit in 15th after failing to win any of their last four fixtures.

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Girona fans will want to forget their trip to Anoeta last season when their hosts dished out a 5-0 thumping in April. The Catalan club have lost their last three games against Basque opposition in La Liga since a 2-0 win over Athletic in February.

 

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