La Liga Preview Matchday 17: Curtains close for winter with Christmas cracker

La Liga

There’s just one more matchday for Spanish sides in the La Liga, with games spread out across the next week as Spain’s top-flight edges towards it’s winter break- and there’s plenty that will be discussed in the weeks ahead.

The big match, of course, is the first La Liga El Clasico of the season this weekend where anything other than a victory for Real Madrid would surely bring an end to their chances of retaining their La Liga title.

Things remain balanced across the division though and it’s the last chance of 2017 for sides chasing European spots or looking to fight away from relegation to bolster their position, ahead of potential January transfer activity.

Levante v Leganes (Tuesday, 20:30 GMT)

After taking a point from Sevilla on Friday night, Levante’s position in the bottom-half of the table sees them with 17 points to their name and they currently sit five above the relegation zone, meaning they won’t sit in the bottom three over Christmas.

The danger, clearly, is not over and a Leganes side who had the weekend off due to Real Madrid’s involvement in the Club World Cup will prove to be a difficult opponent. However, Leganes aren’t as good on the road as they are on home turf and this can provide a boost for Levante, who can pull level with their opponents with a victory.

Getafe v Las Palmas (Wednesday, 18:30 GMT)

Sat in the top-half of the table, Getafe enter their final game of 2017 as one of three sides sat on twenty points and they remain in the hunt for European football. A win here would put them in a very strong position and they’ll certainly stand as favourites for the game against La Liga’s bottom side.

A 2-2 draw with Espanyol wasn’t enough to see Las Palmas rise off the bottom of La Liga but they are now level on points with Malaga. Four points from safety as things stand, a victory for Las Palmas would be crucial and would provide a huge boost- but they haven’t won away from home since beating Malaga in September.

Real Sociedad v Sevilla (Wednesday, 20:30 GMT)

After a goalless draw in the Basque derby with Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad remain in the hunt for European football and are one of three sides on twenty points. Wednesday’s opponents Sevilla are the club leading that charge, though they have their sights set on a top-four finish and another campaign in the Champions League.

Victory for Sevilla would see them rise above Real Madrid in the La Liga standings, though perhaps temporarily, but the concern for the Andalusian giants is that things have slipped in recent weeks, shipping five against Zinedine Zidane’s side before being held to a goalless draw by Levante.

Eibar v Girona (Thursday, 18:30 GMT)

Two overachieving sides in a strong position go toe-to-toe in the early match of Thursday’s double offering, with the winner bolstering their position in the chase for European football. They both remain outsiders but their form this term has been impressive.

Eibar, who drew 0-0 with Getafe at the weekend, will fancy their chances but Girona, newcomers to La Liga, have been nothing short of sensational. Victory over Espanyol has given the minnows the chance to rise as high as fifth in the standings with a win, which would bring the European chase alive.

Alaves v Malaga (Thursday, 20:30 GMT)

El Clasico may get the headlines this week but Alaves’ hosting of Malaga is certainly the most important game in this La Liga matchday, with both sides occupying a spot in the relegation zone and needing points to bolster their position. Make no mistake, victory in this one could provide the catalyst for significant improvement in the second-half of the season.

Alaves know that victory would see them pull level with Deportivo ahead of them, who play on Saturday, whilst Malaga can move just a point off safety. It’s a crucial opportunity for both sides to put pressure on the team ahead of them and to also close the gap on those further ahead, with the likes of Espanyol and Levante still being in danger.

Real Betis v Athletic Bilbao (Friday, 18:30 GMT)

After a superb start to the season, Real Betis have slumped down the table and are now in danger of being dragged into the relegation zone, especially if Alaves win against Malaga on Thursday. With 18 points to their name, Betis have not won any of their last six La Liga games.

Athletic Bilbao have struggled throughout the season but seem to be showing an improvement in form, now unbeaten in five. There’s still room to grow those as the Basque outfit have won just one of those matches and, also with 18 points, remain in danger.

Espanyol v Atletico Madrid (Friday, 20:30 GMT)

After three games without a win, Espanyol have been dragged into the relegation battle and things look difficult this weekend as they play host to a Atletico Madrid side who remain unbeaten in La Luga and seem to have finally found their rhythm.

Results at the weekend mean Atletico are now Barcelona’s closest rival and they can close the gap to just three points this weekend, potentially sparking the title race alive if Barcelona fail to beat Real Madrid on Saturday. They also currently sit five points ahead of their Madrid rivals, with the opportunity to extend that lead to eight.

Real Madrid v Barcelona (Saturday, 12:00 GMT)

The big game of the weekend, Real Madrid have everything to lose despite the fact it already seems unlikely that they will defend their crown. A loss this weekend would put them a whopping 14 points behind Barcelona and results elsewhere could see them slip outside the top-four.

That’s just one of the reasons why the Club World Cup came at the wrong time for Real Madrid and they hardly impressed in their victory in Abu Dhabi. Barcelona, meanwhile, maintained their spectacular run of form with a 4-0 drubbing of Deportivo.

Valencia v Villarreal (Saturday, 15:15 GMT)

The race for the Champions League may have come into life this week, with Valencia enduring a shock defeat to Eibar at the weekend. As such, they’re now eight points off the top and only three ahead of Real Madrid, who of course have a game in hand.

It’s a huge opportunity for Villarreal to enter the reckoning, with the Yellow Submarines having the chance to pull seven points behind the hosts. They have been inconsistent, although they ended a run of four La Liga matches without a win with a 1-0 victory over Celta Vigo on Sunday.

Deportivo v Celta Vigo (Saturday, 17:30 GMT)

The final match of the 2017 La Liga campaign sees Deportivo potentially entering the match in real difficulty, potentially level on points with Alaves or one-point ahead of Malaga, depending on how Thursday’s relegation battle pans out.

Whatever the circumstance though, Deportivo know that they need a win. Celta Vigo, however, need the same as they’re also in danger of being dragged into the relegation mire. They’re three points ahead of their opponents on Saturday, so it’s a huge game.