Spain’s La Liga has proven to be an extremely unpredictable league this season, with big sides underperforming, relatively smaller sides exceeding expectations and teams struggling at the bottom of the table that you wouldn’t expect to.
Real Madrid’s 2-1 loss to newly-promoted Girona last weekend showed the growing competitiveness of Spain’s top-flight, helping to wash away the belief that La Liga revolves around the ‘big three’- which couldn’t be further than the truth.
The resurgence of Valencia and Sevilla has helped make this season extremely interesting, the former of whom remain unbeaten, and a host of ‘smaller’ sides like Real Betis and Leganes harbour outside hopes of qualifying for European football.
This week’s fixtures bring another batch of mouthwatering fixtures to our screens, including a crucial clash at the top and at the bottom.
Real Betis v Getafe (Friday, 20:00 GMT)
La Liga action kicks-off on Friday night with an intriguing clash between Real Betis and Getafe, two sides who occupy a mid-table position currently and will have hopes of pushing towards continental qualification- particularly the hosts.
A 1-0 defeat for Real Betis against Espanyol last week was an extremely disappointing result, particularly as it would have sent the club joint-fifth in the table with the opportunity to rise into the top-three this weekend. Instead, they’ll look to, temporarily at least, rise into the Europa League spots.
For Getafe, it’s a chance to close the gap on one of the sides ahead of them as victory will see them move just one-point behind Betis. After beating Real Sociedad last weekend, they’ll certainly be confident.
Valencia v Leganes (Saturday, 12:00 GMT)
Remaining as one of La Liga’s three unbeaten sides, Valencia will look to put the pressure on Barcelona, who play later on Saturday evening, with a victory against Leganes that would put them just one point behind the league leaders.
In Leganes though, Valencia will find a testing opponent as the minnows currently sit seventh in the table and could move level with both Atletico and Real Madrid with a win, at least temporarily. Despite that, Valencia remain the favourites.
Deportivo v Atletico Madrid (Saturday, 15:15 GMT)
After a crucial win against fellow strugglers Las Palmas last weekend, Deportivo have the chance to pull further away from the relegation zone and into the top-half of the La Liga table this week and may fancy their chances against an out-of-sorts Atletico side.
Diego Simeone’s side have won just one of their last eight across all competitions, drawing three in a row, and had their Champions League dreams left in tatters in midweek after another draw with Qarabag. As such, there may not be a better time to face the Rojiblancos.
Alaves v Espanyol (Saturday, 17:30 GMT)
Slipping to the bottom of the table last weekend, Alaves stand as the favourites for relegation and need to start getting points on the board. They stand as underdogs no matter what game they go into, though this weekend’s clash is certainly winnable.
Espanyol secured a crucial win against Real Betis last week, pushing away from the relegation zone, and a similar result this weekend could end their fears of slipping to the Segunda. This match kicks-off a crucial run of five matches for Alaves though and they’ll want to start in good form.
Barcelona v Sevilla (Saturday, 19:45 GMT)
Taking 28 points from a possible thirty, scoring 28 goals and conceding just three, Luis Enrique’s Barcelona look to be unstoppable and have come out shining from their recent tests against Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao.
In Sevilla though, the Catalan giants face another testing game against a side that harbours hopes of finishing in the top-four. Sevilla can rise into the Champions League spots with a positive result, at least temporarily, and have now won three in a row since shipping four to Valencia.
Levante v Girona (Sunday, 11:00 GMT)
Sunday’s action commences with a very crucial mid-table clash where Levante and Girona, who are level on points with 12, face off in an attempt to push themselves away from the relegation zone- with the winner potentially enjoying a nine-point cushion over the drop.
Girona were the talk of the town after last week’s sensational victory over Real Madrid and will be favourites for a tie against a side that haven’t won in three La Liga matches. However, Levante did defeat Girona 2-0 in the Copa Del Rey a few weeks ago.
Celta Vigo v Athletic Bilbao (Sunday, 15:15 GMT)
Two sides that entered the season with hopes of returning to European football once again, Celta Vigo and Athletic Bilbao are both underperforming this season and sit in the bottom-half of the standings with 11 points to their name.
Defeat would be a huge blow for either side, whereas a win can provide the platform to build upon in the coming months. Athletic did finally win again in the Europa League, whilst Celta became the first La Liga side to lose to Malaga last weekend.
Real Sociedad v Eibar (Sunday, 17:30 GMT)
After a thrilling start to the season, Real Sociedad are slipping and now risk being sucked into the battle in the bottom half of the table. That’s an area where Eibar find themselves and the visitors know that three points this weekend will be crucial.
Sociedad have won just one of their last seven La Liga fixtures, whilst Eibar enter this weekend’s clash on a six-match winless run of their own. It’s a difficult tie to predict but Sociedad may take a point, whereas that may not be good enough for Eibar.
Villarreal v Malaga (Sunday, 17:30 GMT)
After taking a point off Atletico Madrid last weekend, Villarreal secured a crucial victory in the Europa League on Thursday night as they defeated Sparta Prague. Losing just two of their last 13 matches across all competitions, the Yellow Submarines will be full of confidence.
Malaga, however, have the boost of finally winning a La Liga match last weekend in their tenth attempt. That victory came against Celta Vigo and defeating Villarreal will be a much harder test and realistically a point wouldn’t significantly alter the position of the visitors.
Real Madrid v Las Palmas (Sunday, 19:45 GMT)
Looking for redemption after a shock defeat to Girona last weekend, Real Madrid bring the La Liga ation to a close this weekend against a Las Palmas side that currently sit in the relegation zone with just six points to their name.
After losing to Girona and then to Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League, poor Las Palmas could find themselves on the receiving end of a drubbing at the Santiago Bernabeu as Los Blancos will be looking for a response.