La Liga

La Liga Preview Matchday 15: Testing matches across the board

Last weekend certainly wasn’t the ideal displays from La Liga’s top guns, with Atletico Madrid being the only side in the top-four to taste victory last time out.

Barcelona dropped points against Celta Vigo and Valencia then missed the chance to pull closer to the La Liga leaders, as their unbeaten start to the season was brought to an end by Getafe. Real Madrid also slipped-up, finishing with ten-men in a goalless draw against struggling Athletic Bilbao.

It was, therefore, a good weekend for the rest of the division as a number of sides picked up crucial points- including relegation-threatened Eibar, Las Palmas and Alaves. Now, it’s a case of keeping up that form as they aim to turn things around.

Alaves v Las Palmas (Friday, 20:00 GMT)

Both sat in the bottom three, Las Palmas and Alaves picked up crucial points last week with their respective victories over Real Betis and Girona. Now, they’ll look to secure another three points to aid their battle against relegation.

The hosts, Alaves, know that they could rise out of the bottom three this weekend but they’d require a victory here along with a defeat for Deportivo, with a four-goal swing on goal difference. For Las Palmas, the situation is much simpler; a win would, at least temporarily, lift them out of the drop zone.

Getafe v Eibar (Saturday, 12:00 GMT)

Getafe’s shock victory over Valencia last week sent them flying up the table and they could rise as high as sixth this weekend, should results go their way. Meanwhile, Eibar also secured a crucial win last weekend against fellow strugglers Espanyol.

This means that Saturday’s early game, just like Friday’s clash, is extremely significant to the bottom of the picture. If the hosts were to win, they’d boast a healthy margin over the drop zone and the same is the case for Eibar, though the odds are stacked against the visitors.

Real Madrid v Sevilla (Saturday, 15:15 GMT)

Already eight points behind Barcelona, and missing the chance to close the gap last weekend, December is a crucial month for Real Madrid. Defeat here would see the defending champions slip out of the top-four and increase the pressure, with an El Clasico clash right around the corner.

Sevilla, meanwhile, have also left a lot to be desired. They would have expected to be sitting pretty in the Champions League spots but they have secured three consecutive La Liga wins- and a fourth here would provide a huge boost.

Deportivo v Leganes (Saturday, 17:30 GMT)

After a loss to Sevilla last weekend, Deportivo sit just two points above the relegation zone and face a testing clash this weekend against this season’s surprise package Leganes, who continued their thrilling campaign with a 3-1 victory over Villarreal last week.

The visitors will certainly fancy their chances of securing another victory, which could see them leapfrog the Yellow Submarines in the La Liga standings. For Deportivo, they could find themselves in the bottom three ahead of the game if Las Palmas win on Friday night.

Valencia v Celta Vigo (Saturday, 19:45 GMT)

Having seen their unbeaten run come to an end last weekend, Valencia now face another stern test in the form of Celta Vigo- who frustrated league leaders Barcelona last weekend, securing a 2-2 draw against Luis Enrique’s side.

Defeat for Valencia, or even a draw, could see them drop to third in the table beneath Atletico Madrid. For Celta Vigo, a victory here would certainly put them back in the hunt for a European finish and would be a real statement of intent.

Real Sociedad v Malaga (Sunday, 11:00 GMT)

After a strong start, followed by frustrations, Real Sociedad need to find form again if they’re to keep their hopes of a European finish alive. It’s now been four consecutive matches in all competitions for the Basque side without a win but this weekend’s fixture gives them a big chance of turning things around.

Malaga still sit at the foot of the La Liga table and remain four points from safety, which could be extended by Deportivo on Saturday. The Costa Del Sol side desperately need some form and a trip to a struggling Sociedad side is the ideal opportunity for them to lay down a marker, though they’ll need to show considerable improvement.

Real Betis v Atletico Madrid (Sunday, 15:15 GMT)

Hovering in mid-table, Real Betis are set for a season of consolidation but still remain in the running for a European finish. However, they need to be wary of a backlash this weekend from an Atletico Madrid side who slumped out of the Champions League.

A premature exit from Europe’s elite competition has put some pressure upon Diego Simeone, who’s side sit six points behind Barcelona. Still unbeaten in La Liga, Atletico have drawn six matches this season- a tally only Levante (7) can better. As such, it’s clear they need to start finding better consistency.

Levante v Athletic Bilbao (Sunday, 17:30 GMT)

Six points from safety, Levante are in the sort of position where they’ll be anxiously looking over their shoulders as a quick turnaround below them could result in some real problems. As such, this weekend’s clash against Athletic Bilbao is significant for both struggling sides.

A 2-0 win against Zorya on Thursday evening secured passage to the Europa League knock-outs for Athletic, which is a big boost away from their La Liga struggles. Just four points from safety though, and without a league win since October, improvements need to be shown- and a goalless draw with Real Madrid last weekend may have provided a huge boost.

Villarreal v Barcelona (Sunday, 19:45 GMT)

European hopefuls Villarreal are stuck in a difficult period, having not won a league match in a month. It is, therefore, perhaps the worst time possible to welcome high-flying Barcelona to the Estadio de la Cerámica but Celta Vigo showed last weekend that Lionel Messi and company are not quite unstoppable.

However, Barcelona still remain unbeaten in La Liga and have not lost in any competition since the Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid. Favourites for the title, and already boasting a five-point margin at the top, Luis Enrique’s side should secure victory again on Sunday.

Espanyol v Girona (Monday, 20:00 GMT)

Monday evening’s clash sees two sides who are on the verges of the relegation battle go toe-to-toe, where the losers could be sucked into the tussle at the bottom. Espanyol, the hosts, are in the biggest danger as they sit six points above the drop- and could have fallen to 16th in the table by the time Monday’s fixture comes around.

Girona, having lost to Alaves last weekend, face a similar issue. Just one point better off than their Catalan opponents, the newly-promoted side have seen their results dip since their spectacular three-match winning run- which of course included a shock win over Real Madrid.

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