Five Things to Look Out For in La Liga this weekend

After three days of unsurprising Copa Del Rey action, La Liga returns for Matchday 11. Considering the carnage of the Clásico last weekend, seeing a new man in the Bernabéu dugout on Saturday is not a shock. As well as a new face in Madrid, the club across the city could go top while Barcelona head to the capital to face Rayo. Here are 5 things to look out for this weekend in Spain:

 

Atlético could move top

Diego Simeone’s side travel across the city to face lowly Leganés in Saturday’s early kick off. A win at Butarque would take Atleti top, at least until Barcelona play on Saturday evening. Los rojiblancos have lost just once in recent years at Leganés, with that defeat coming by a 1-0 scoreline in a friendly in 2015. Diego Costa is a doubt for the game with a muscle injury and, having not scored a league goal since February, the pressure is growing on the former Chelsea striker.

 

Solari’s first league game

Real Madrid started life under caretaker boss Santi Solari with a convincing win at 3rd-tier Melilla in the Copa Del Rey on Wednesday. Solari, who played for Los Blancos between 2000 and 2005, has been promoted from his managerial post with Madrid’s B team and has been touted to give Brazilian wonderkid Vinicius Junior, signed in the summer from Palmeiras, some minutes in the first team. Solari and Madrid go up against Real Valladolid, now owned by former ‘Galáctico’ Ronaldo, at the Bernabéu with the hosts looking for their first league win in six games.

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Valencia’s dire run

Valencia’s impressive 4th-place finish last campaign seems a distant memory for fans of Los Che as the club currently sit in 14th. Marcelino’s side have drawn 8 out of their 10 games so far in La Liga this season. Before their Copa Del Rey win over Ebro on Tuesday, Valencia had managed draws in their last 5 games in all competitions and had drawn 7 of their last 8 games. They’re the second lowest scorers in the league with 7 goals and have won just once all season. Turning it the other way, Marcelino would say that they’re unbeaten in their last 9 games in all competitions. The face Girona at the Mestalla on Saturday afternoon looking to win at home for the first time this season.

 

Attack vs Defence in Vallecas

Rayo Vallecano are struggling to adapt to life back in Spain’s top flight so far this season and currently occupy a spot in the relegation zone. Their leaky defence has conceded the second most goals in La Liga this season (20) while their opponents on Saturday evening pose quite an attacking threat. Barcelona, on the back of a 5-1 thumping of Real Madrid, are the league’s top scorers with 28 goals. The Catalan giants could be further boosted by the possible return of Lionel Messi, who rejoined the squad in training this week after the broken arm he suffered against Sevilla two weeks ago. If the stats suggest anything, Alberto García could be a very busy man in goal for Rayo.

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Can Alavés win again?

The Basque club currently sit a point and a place behind leaders Barcelona at the top of the table after a stunning run of form has seen them win their last three games. Real Madrid, Celta Vigo and Villarreal have all fallen victim to the Alavés’ surprise element over the last few weeks. Abelardo Fernández, who made over 50 appearances for Spain during the 1990s, is the man at the helm and is earning plenty of plaudits across the country. Familiar faces in the squad for Premier League fans will be former Swansea striker Borja Bastón, former Manchester City forward John Guidetti and former West Ham loanee Jonathan Calleri. They face Eibar in a mini Basque Country Derby on Sunday.

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