LA LIGA WEEKEND PREVIEW: Three points separate the top seven as Real Madrid head north to face Eibar while Barcelona welcome Celta Vigo to Nou Camp… but will Real Betis or Sevilla come out on top in ‘El Gran Derbi’?
- The top of La Liga is looking tight with three points separating the top seven
- Real Sociedad kick off the weekend’s action against basement boys Leganes
- Barcelona will look to get back to winning ways against Celta Vigo on Saturday
- Real Madrid face a potential banana skin when they make the trip north to Eibar
- To cap off the weekend, Real Betis take on Sevilla in El Gran Derbi on Sunday
It’s slowly becoming the league that no team wants to win.
The Catalan giants are in a poor run of form and the pressure is mounting on boss Ernesto Valverde at the Nou Camp.
Lionel Messi has struggled to pull Barcelona out of their recent slump after a defeat and draw
A emphatic 6-0 win for Real Madrid over Galatasaray in the Champions League will have been a worrying sign for Eibar, who welcome Zinedine Zidane’s men to the Basque country on Saturday.
And while it’s no shock that Atletico Madrid are in the mix at the top of the table, their lack of goals should be a concern as they continue to struggle up top.
To cap off matchday 13, fans are treated to the weekend’s big derby as Real Betis go head-to-head with Sevilla. Sportsmail takes a look at that, and the key fixtures to come…
Real Sociedad vs Leganes – Friday, 8pm
The weekend’s action kicks off with high-flyers Real Sociedad against La Liga’s basement boys Leganes.
Imanol Alguacil’s men are impressively sitting joint-top with Real and Barcelona on 22 points but have played a game more following the postponement of El Clasico last month.
Former Arsenal defender Nacho Monreal has been re-energised at La Real while Martin Odegaard – who has looked promising while on loan – will miss Friday night’s clash as he continues to recover from an ankle injury.
Real Sociedad are flying high after a late win against Granada last weekend put them joint top
The hosts will also look to build on their late victory over Granada last week after Portu scored an 89th-minute winner to cap off a fine brace in the 2-1 victory.
While Real Sociedad are soaring, Leganes are sinking.
Rooted to the bottom of the table, Leganes have lost nine of their opening 12 games, picking up just one win since the start of the season.
History doesn’t seem to favour Javier Aguirre’s side in this fixture, either, with Real Sociedad putting at least two goals past them in their last three meetings.
Eibar vs Real Madrid – Saturday, 5.30pm
Zinedine Zidane’s men make the journey up to the Basque country this weekend to take on Eibar, who sit 14th in the table.
While a 0-0 draw with Real Betis last weekend saw them miss out on top spot, Real Madrid will take comfort from their performance against Galatasaray in midweek, where they smashed six past the Turkish side.
The perfect hat-trick from Rodrygo Goes was the icing on the cake for the Spanish giants.
Going into Saturday’s game, history dictates that Real will comfortably win this but Zidane’s men should remain wary considering they were thumped 3-0 by Eibar in the league last November.
After romping to a 6-0 win in Europe, Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid side now take on Eibar
Eibar are also riding a wave of good form currently, having won their last two games 2-1 against Leganes and Villarreal.
The club’s Chilean winger Fabian Orellana has been one of their standout performers so far, netting four goals and bagging four assists in his 12 appearances this campaign.
Real will be without a host of players for the encounter with Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio, James Rodriguez and Vinicius all out injured.
Barcelona vs Celta Vigo – Saturday, 8pm
Ernesto Valverde is really starting to feel the heat in Barcelona.
A devastating 3-1 defeat by Levante last Saturday opened up the door for Real Madrid and Atletico to leapfrog them at the top of the table.
Fortunately for Barca, both Madrid sides failed to seize the opportunity.
Days later, the Catalan giants followed suit by playing out an uninspiring goalless draw with Slavia Prague at the Nou Camp.
A 3-0 defeat by Levante last weekend has left Barcelona in a mini-rut ahead of Celta Vigo clash
With Barcelona in dire straits, their clash with Celta Vigo has now become a must-win and the task could be made even tougher if Saturday’s opponents have a case of the ‘new-boss bounce’.
Celta Vigo parted company with Fran Escriba last weekend with a defeat by Getafe proving to be the final straw.
Less than 24 hours later, Oscar Garcia arrived and a win against his former side in his first game will set him up nicely going into the international break.
Atletico Madrid vs Espanyol – Sunday, 3pm
Its just not happening up front for Atletico Madrid.
Diego Simeone’s men had the chance to go top of La Liga following dropped points by their two biggest titles rivals.
During their 1-1 draw against Sevilla, Atletico had 14 attempts on goal and crucially missed a penalty, with Diego Costa’s shooting boots deserting him from the spot.
The former Chelsea forward has scored just twice in over 1,000 minutes of league football this season and it seems that supporters’ patience is wearing thin.
Diego Costa has scored just twice in over 1,000 minutes of league football this season
Espanyol are also struggling to find the back of the net in La Liga this season, considering their six goals from 12 games has left them slumped in the relegation zone.
However, they matched their season’s total in just one game after they thrashed Ludogorets 6-0 in the Europa League on Thursday.
Pablo Machin will be hoping his side’s dominant win will give them some inspiration going into Sunday’s game but considering Atletico have the tightest defence this season, it may just be a pipe dream.
Real Betis vs Sevilla – Sunday, 8pm
La Liga saves the best till last.
It aims to live up to it’s billing with both sides hitting form at the right time.
Sevilla managed to get off to a positive start, considering the fact that 11 new faces arrived along with new coach Julen Lopetegui this summer.
Lucas Ocampos, who has four goals in his first 11 La Liga appearances, has really caught the eye since arriving this summer while Joan Jordan and Real Madrid loanee Sergio Reguilon have also made an instant impression.
Betis haven’t had quite the same success but following a turbulent spell that saw them drop into the relegation zone, they’ve come out fighting by sealing all three points in a 2-1 victory against Celta Vigo before holding Real Madrid to a goalless stalemate at the Santiago Bernabeu last Saturday.
Like Sevilla, Betis have also been firing on all cylinders up top with striker Loren Moron standing out so far, with his seven goals in first 11 games putting him in the mix for La Liga’s top-scorer race.
While November 5 may have already been and gone, fans will be hoping for plenty of fireworks at the Benito Villamarin this Sunday.
Keep an eye out for Levante’s game with Athletic Bilbao because Paco Lopez could be without a senior goalkeeper for the encounter.
Levante’s first-choice keeper Aitor Fernandez has been called in to work at his local polling station for the Spain general elections this weekend, leaving the east coast club without a back-up considering their other stopper is injured.
Former West Ham striker Lucas Perez is currently on fire in front of goal, having scored in six consecutive games.
The Alaves star will be aiming to make it seven when Asier Garitano’s men welcome Real Valladolid to the Mendizorrotza Stadium.
Granada will be hoping results will go their way as their unexpected charge in the title race continues. A win against Valencia would temporarily put them top, should Real Sociedad draw or lose on Friday evening, and see them keep pace with La Liga’s big boys.
Mallorca host Villarreal and Osasuna travel to Getafe to complete the weekend’s action.