La Liga Preview: Volatile At The Top, As Main Title Candidates Back In Action On Saturday
After Leganes and Real Sociedad kick off the weekend on Friday night, with the home side looking for their first ever home win in the top flight, second placed Sevilla go into action at midday Saturday.
Jorge Sampaoli’s side, fresh from beating Atletico Madrid, is looking for their second consecutive away win against Sporting Gijon, who ended a string of five straight defeats with a draw in Granada a week ago, but whose form is still unconvincing.
Real Madrid will have history on their side when they travel to Vitoria to face an Alaves side who has only beaten them once at home.
Alaves receive Madrid on the back of their worst performance of the season, a 3-0 away loss to Real Sociedad, and will not be able to field Marcos Llorente on loan from Madrid. Meanwhile the visitors, who are still without Luka Modric, Casemiro and Sergio Ramos, travel after winning 7-1 away from home against 3rd tier Cultural Leonesa in the King’s Cup.
Atletico Madrid have had a week to lick their wounds and rest their tired legs following the defeat in Seville, and thus should have confidence as they head into a meeting with Malaga.
Malaga appear to be finding form after a 4-0 thrashing of Leganes a week ago, but will struggle to cope with Atletico’s pace in attack, with newly named player of the season for 2015-16, Antoine Griezmann leading the line.
Diego Simeone could make changes after last weekend’s setback with Fernando Torres given a chance in attack, while Saul Niguez or Tiago will replace the suspended Koke in midfield.
Andres Iniesta is also sidelined with a ligament injury to further limit Luis Enrique’s options, but the Barca coach will be confident his side still has enough to defeat a win-less team on the bottom of the table.
Eibar need to tighten up in defense on Sunday if they are to get anything from their home match against an in-form Villarreal, whose resent results have carried them into the top four.
There is a derby between Athletic Club Bilbao and Osasuna with the home side working to recover key players such as Aritz Aduriz, Aymeric Laporte and Oscar de Marcos, who all missed out last week’s unlucky defeat away to Real Madrid.
Both Betis and Espanyol need a good performance in their respective matches against Las Palmas and Celta in order to take the pressure off their coaches.
The round of games ends on Monday when an improving Valencia visit Deportivo la Coruna, whose coach Gaizka Garitano is another man under pressure following his side’s 4-1 defeat in Vigo last weekend.