La Liga

La Liga preview: Madrid look to widen the gap as Barcelona take on Sevilla

Week 29 saw Real Madrid maintain their two point lead at the top of La Liga with a hard fought win over Alaves and Barcelona kept pace by thrashing Granada 4-1¬†without Lionel Messi, however Sevilla’s unlikely title challenge seems to be over after failing to defeat Sporting Gijon at home.

The next round of fixtures come around thick and fast with a tricky test for Barcelona and winnable match ups for the bottom three.

Athletic Bilbao vs Espanyol

Both teams scraped a 2-1 win in their last fixture with Fuego and Reyes leaving it very late to secure the points for Espanyol over Real Betis while I√Īaki Williams and 36 year old veteran Aritz Aduriz struck for Bilbao.

Despite only suffering one defeat in their last six, Espanyol face Athletic Bilbao at the San Mames on Tuesday where the Basque club have been famously hard to beat, proved by the fact only Real Madrid in March and Barcelona in August have come away with a win in all competitions this season.

Atlético Madrid vs Real Sociedad

Atlético Madrid are favourites going into the game at the Vicente Calderón but Real Sociedad will provide a stern test as they look to defend their place in a Europa League spot after stalling in the last few weeks. Villarreal, Bilbao and Eibar are now only 1, 2 and 4 points behind respectively.

Real Betis vs Villarreal

Top goalscorer Rub√©n Castro recorded his 10th goal of the season by scoring a penalty against Espanyol but it wasn’t enough to even muster a draw. Now V√≠ctor S√°nchez will surely need his striker to add to that tally if they are to condemn Villarreal to a second successive defeat following their 3-2 defeat to Eibar.

Barcelona vs Sevilla

Lionel Messi returns from suspension in this must win game for Barcelona as defeat could leave the club 5 points adrift having played a game more than Real Madrid. The Argentine wasn’t missed against Granada as Neymar scored his 100th Barca goal but Luis Enrique will require all his tools to prevent his potential heir from spoiling a farewell title parade.

Sevilla, who have really been struggling to pick up their best form recently, will be looking to win for the first time in over a month.

Deportivo vs Granada

After a fantastic start to life at Deportivo, including a win over Barcelona, Pepe Mel’s side have failed to collect a point in their last game. However, you’d expect a home fixture against Granada to be¬†the perfect game to get back to winning ways. Despite a cool finish from Chelsea loanee Jeremie Boga to equalise against Barcelona, Granada have now lost four games in a row.

Sporting Gijon vs M√°laga

Dominated against Sampaoli’s Sevilla but a strong effort defensively now gives the impressing Rubi a chance to end the weekend just two points off M√°laga and a very real chance of survival.

Meanwhile, M√°laga look to be sliding the other way and with Barcelona, Sevilla, Real Madrid, Real Sociedad and relegation rivals Granada still to play, three points tomorrow is a must.

Alaves vs Osasuna

The home side travel to bottom placed Osasuna who are now 16 points from safety – dead and buried.

Alaves on the other hand are playing well and the 3-0 defeat at Real Madrid on Sunday was very harsh. Quick fire goals from Isco and Nacho suddenly made a close, difficult game for the home side look a walkover.

Apart from the Bernab√©u defeat, Alaves’ only other defeat in their last six games came from Granada who are also fighting to beat the drop. Alaves have really impressed so far and won’t go down so may¬†have a lackadaisical performance in them. It’s too late for Osasuna but Sergio Le√≥n could add to his 8 goals this season.

Leganes vs Real Madrid

Anything aside from relegation would mean a good season for Leganes this year and recent form is giving them a good chance. They will need to score on Wednesday though as Real Madrid found the net for the 50th consecutive game in their win over Alaves. Los Blancos struggled to kill the game off after Karim Benzema’s controversial goal and a 3-0 home win rather flattered Zidane’s table toppers.

Eibar vs Las Palmas

In a strong 2-3 win over Villarreal, Pedro León netted his 9th La Liga goal before Kike and Inui added to the score line. Eibar now host Las Palmas at home who have been unable to stop barrages of goals against them recently, most recently a hat-trick from Giuseppe Rossi.

Valencia vs Celta Vigo

Finally, Valencia look to have absolutely secured their La Liga status, as they were always going to, when they won 3-0 against Pepe Mel’s Deportivo. The need for a goalscorer is still evident as Garay and Cancelo (and an own goal from Albentosa) won the points. Celta Vigo have no such issues with Rossi netting a hat-trick last time out and Iago Aspas directly contributing to 18 league goals. They will fancy their chances against a unpredictable Valencia side on Thursday.

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