Spanish football has certainly gotten very interesting over the course of the past few weeks, with a very fine line separating those at the top, extremely close margins at the bottom and sides performing unlike some would expect.
Amidst it all, three sides remain unbeaten in the league; Barcelona, Valencia and Atletico Madrid. Each side faces a very different sort of challenge this week against their opponents, whilst Real Madrid will hope their rivals slip-up.
At the bottom, it’s looking particularly bleak for Malaga, the division’s only winless side this season, and Alaves, but the close nature in the relegation battle means that the situation can change in the blink of an eye.
There’s no Friday night action in La Liga this week so it all begins on Saturday, with a feast of matches affecting the top and the bottom.
Alaves v Valencia (Saturday, 12:00 BST)
Sat second-bottom of La Liga, Alaves secured a victory in midweek to defeat Getafe in the Copa Del Rey and will look to use that form to boost their performances in La Liga- although it won’t be easy in this weekend’s tie.
Hosting Valencia this weekend, one of three undefeated sides in La Liga, it’s likely Alaves will return to losing ways and could slip to the bottom of the standings, should Malaga finally secure a win. Valencia come into the game on the back of six consecutive victories across all competitions and will be favourites to extend that run.
Atletico Madrid v Villarreal (Saturday, 17:30 BST)
Another La Liga undefeated side, Atletico Madrid, face a stern test against Champions League hopefuls, Villarreal, this weekend and Diego Simeone’s side will certainly be looking for improved performances after narrowly defeating Celta Vigo a week ago.
Since then, Atletico have drawn with Elche in the cup and it leaves the side from the Spanish capital with a shocking record of just one victory from their last six games in all competitions- something that needs to improve.
Villarreal, sixth in La Liga and three points behind Atletico, will look to bounce-back after losing to Ponferradina in midweek. That defeat ended a run of five games unbeaten in all competitions and there’s a huge risk of back-to-back defeats now.
Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona (Saturday, 19:45 BST)
With one win from their last ten games in all competitions, the situation for Athletic Bilbao is looking particularly bleak and it doesn’t get any better for the Basque side this weekend as they welcome Barcelona to the San Mames.
Ernesto Valverde’s return to his former club sees Barcelona looking to extend their 13-match unbeaten run in all competitions, with the Catalan giants last losing in the Spanish Super Cup to Real Madrid. Winning eight of their nine league matches this season, another three points is expected.
Sevilla v Leganes (Saturday, 21:30 BST)
Sevilla ended a run of three consecutive defeats across all competitions in midweek by defeating FC Cartagena 3-0 but they’ll still be licking their wounds after last weekend’s 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Valencia.
Things don’t get any easier for the Andalusian side this week as they tackle La Liga’s surprise package Leganes, a side currently sat fifth in the standings, a single point above Sevilla, and one enjoying a six-match unbeaten run across all competitions.
Getafe v Real Sociedad (Sunday, 11:00 BST)
Sat three points above the relegation zone, Getafe certainly aren’t in a comfortable position and they enter Sunday’s game on the back of just one victory in seven matches across all competitions. They’ll want to end their slump as soon as possible but this weekend will be a difficult game.
Real Sociedad started the season fantastically but have seen their performances slip since then, with the Basque side winning just one of their last six La Liga games having started the season with maximum points after the first three matches.
The visitors will be desperate for a win but Getafe would probably take a point, although a home victory could see them rise as high as tenth.
Girona v Real Madrid (Sunday, 15:15 BST)
Girona, aka Manchester City’s Spanish feeder club, have performed admirably well so far in their maiden La Liga campaign but there’s still a long way to go. Three points above the relegation zone, Girona are at risk of dropping into the bottom three after this weekend’s clash with Real Madrid.
After a slow start, Real Madrid are now unbeaten in seven games in all competitions, winning six of those clashes. They remain five points behind Barcelona though and will be looking to maintain the chase on their great rivals ahead of the first La Liga El Clasico of the season, which falls a few days before Christmas.
Eibar v Levante (Sunday, 17:30 BST)
One point above the relegation zone, Eibar are in desperate need of a victory and this weekend is the perfect opportunity for them to secure all three points- with a win potentially sucking Levante into the relegation battle.
Despite standing three games undefeated in all competitions, Levante’s last La Liga victory was now over a month ago and drastic improvements need to be shown as they’ve lost to Real Betis and Alaves since- the latter of which was a defeat that would have really hurt.
Malaga v Celta Vigo (Sunday, 19:45 BST)
With just a single point to their name from nine matches, the situation is looking extremely bleak for Malaga. Their woes continued in midweek with a 2-1 defeat to Numancia in the Copa Del Rey and, even at this early stage, they look doomed.
Ahead of them this weekend is a Celta Vigo side hovering in mid-table and one that will have been left disheartened by a narrow defeat to Atletico Madrid last weekend. Along with Athletic Bilbao, they’re a side that many expected more from this season and they’ll need to kick-on.
Las Palmas v Deportivo (Monday, 20:00 BST)
A crucial six-pointer, Las Palmas and Deportivo go toe-to-toe on Monday evening with both sides looking to pull away from the relegation fight. A win for the hosts would propel the side from the Canary Islands out of the relegation zone, potentially at Deportivo’s expense.
In the warm-up clash in the Copa Del Rey, Las Palmas were 4-1 victors over Deportivo away from home and that will give them a huge confidence boost. Deportivo will be looking for a response though and it’s a difficult tie to call.
Espanyol v Real Betis (Monday, 20:00 BST)
A clash that sees a side facing the risk of entering the relegation fight against a side threatening to break into the European spots, Espanyol will hope that home advantage pays dividends when they welcome Real Betis on Monday night.
Espanyol have now drawn their last three matches across all competitions, with their last win coming over a month ago, whilst Betis responded to a 6-3 defeat against Valencia a few weeks ago by defeating Alaves last weekend and securing a 2-1 win over Cadiz in the Copa Del Rey.