La Liga Preview: Matchday Six

After the dust settled last week, Barcelona’s perfect start to the season was shattered upon the defence of Malaga.  Wins for Atletico and Real Madrid brought them closer to the Catalonians, and brought Valencia and Sevilla to equal top of the ladder.  Some big matchups will see that likely to change, with Champions League hopefuls having to tussle, with Real Sociedad hosting Valencia, but the pick of the round is la Liga champions Atletico Madrid hosting table leaders Sevilla.

Friday saw Celta Vigo continue their great form to account for Elche, putting Elche in real trouble hovering around the relegation zone early on in the season. Celta were full of confidence coming off a Galician Derby win earlier in the week, while Elche are still struggling to find their feet this season.

The big match for Saturday is Atletico Madrid welcoming Sevilla to the Vicente Calderon.  Both sides come into the match in good form, with Sevilla on a four match winning streak in La Liga, and Atletico are also unbeaten in the league, including a win over city rivals Real.   Expect a close game, and if anything will decide it, it will be Atletico’s strength off the bench in attack, with the tough midweek fixtures taking it’s toll on a limited Sevilla squad, even one relieved of European duties.

Mario Mandzukic
Mario Mandzukic will hope he can help Atletico push past Sevilla on Saturday

The weekend kicks off with Real Madrid visiting Villareal.  Expect a lot of goals, with the Real attack in rampant form, quashing the critics, and Villareal’s poor defensive record against the whites.  This game could be over before half time.

Barcelona host Granada in a bit of a mini crisis.  Such is the expectations at the club, that even a draw can be criticized after a perfect 4/4 start and a perfect defensive record, but the disappointing draw to Granada featured an interesting stat – the first time in 10 years Barcelona failed to register a shot on target.  Neymar needs to pick up his form. Pedro has been average at best, and Sandro and Munir are still finding their feet in the top flight and can’t be counted on for consistent goals as of yet. Messi has moved back into more of a midfield role so until Suarez returns the onus is on the Brazilian to fire.

Granada come off the back of a disappointing loss to Levante, and will most likely look to shut up shop and hit Barcelona on the counter attack, which is the norm for the lesser sides facing the Blaugrana.

Elsewhere, Bilbao host neutral favourites Eibar, in an attempt to arrest their disastrous start to the season – currently sitting in the relegation zone – in the second Basque derby of the year, while Levante face Rayo Vallecano, with both sides hoping to take the three points to edge away from the relegation zone.

Sunday sees Getafe host Malaga, with the hosts also desperately wanting a win to get out of the dreaded relegation zone, whereas high-flying Malaga will want to kick on after their promising draw to Barcelona in midweek.

The big game on Sunday is Real Sociedad hosting Valencia.  Valencia have mirrored Sevilla after their draw in round one, both winning their last four league games.  Sociedad have had a poor start, despite beating Real Madrid, and have only managed one draw and three losses in their other matches but will be aiming for European qualification, more realistically Europa League with this start, but should give Valencia a real test.

Valencia will hope to extend their run at the top of the table with a tough clash against  Sociedad
Valencia will hope to extend their run at the top of the table with a tough clash against Sociedad

The weekend is rounded off with Deportivo hosting Almeria, and Cordoba hosting Espanyol. All four sides are within one win of the bottom of the table, so will be hungry for points to keep themselves safe from their opponents.

About Nick Chernih 22 Articles
An avid football fan, Nick fell in love with the European game long ago and never looked back. One of our dedicated Spanish writers, Nick has been a Barcelona and Chelsea supporter since primary school, and can be recognised by the rings under his eyes on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings after the grueling European time zone takes its toll on his sleeping patterns.