La Liga Preview: Matchday Two

Munir (left) and Messi scored the goals in Barcelona's 3-0 win over Elche.

With round one completed, there is plenty of action to spice up the action at both ends of the table. With defending champions Atletico Madrid firing a blank in their first round, they need to get a result against Los Armeros in order to stay in touch with the Clasico duo. Considering the top-heaviness of the league, slipping further behind could be very damaging early on.  Elsewhere, there are four Monday matches as Europa League qualification on Thursday has pushed fixtures back.

Eibar will look to maintain their record as the only side to win every game in La Liga, when they travel to Atletico Madrid, hungry for their first win of the season. Expect Atletico to be firing on all cylinders, after looking a bit short on match fitness in their first match, backing up so soon after their Spanish Super Cup win over city rivals Real.

Valencia take on Malaga, whose fall from grace and star exodus of recent times means that Los Che will not have the sternest test compared to years gone by where Malaga was challenging in the latter stages of the Champions League.  Valencia will need to win a lot of home games against mid-table teams this season to secure a top 4 finish, with a fine balance of mid week games so this could be an important result come the end of the season.

After drawing with Valencia last week, Sevilla travel to Espanyol, with the Catalan venue housing a notoriously partisan crowd acting as the 12th man.  Another important result as the main competitors to Valencia for 4th place, and Espanyol looking for Europa League spots makes this another significant match up.

Neymar rejoined first team training and could be in line for a return to the Barca side.
Neymar rejoined first team training and could be in line for a return to the Barca side.

Monday sees Barcelona traveling to Villarreal, who have rebuilt steadily following their unexpected relegation a few years ago. Barcelona should take the 3 points, but former players Giovanni and Jonathan Dos Santos could inspire a strong performance from the Yellow Submarine.

It will be interesting to see if Neymar will see any action this week after his injury problems – with the Brazilian rejoining normal training this week – or if wonderkid Munir gets more game time following his impressive debut. Expect Pedro to get a start in place of Rafinha after recovering from a bout of gastro. Villarreal have to back up after Europa League duties, though their comfortable win over Kazakh champions Astana 7-0 on aggregate shouldn’t have taken too much out of the legs.

The game of the round sees Real Madrid travel to San Sebastian to take on Real Sociedad – with former La Real player Xabi Alonso missing out on another homecoming following his transfer to Bayern Munich; and one against his other former side Liverpool in the Champions League with Real drawn against the English outfit.

Madrid were uninspiring against Cordoba in round one, and Real Sociedad have some great players, with Carlos Vela and Iñigo Martinez performing well last season at opposite ends of the pitch.  The fitness of Ronaldo is still in question, but if the team is prepared well this shouldn’t be a big issue, as they have a dearth of attacking options.

Sociedad’s start to the season couldn’t have begun any worse, and following a shock defeat to Eibar in round one the Basques are now having to backup after a disastrous Europa League journey to Russia, crashing out of Europe with a 3-0 loss. While La Real will be hoping to get their season back on track all the stats are with Madrid, with 5 wins, 2 draws and no losses at the Anoeta, and averaging 4.2 goals in their last 5 games with the Basques. Another comfortable win may be dependent on their Portuguese talisman, however, who has scored 7 goals in their last 3 meetings – and was just named the best player in Europe for last season.


Round Two in full:

Getafe vs Almería; Valencia vs Málaga; Córdoba vs Celta de Vigo; Athletic Bilbao vs Levante; Atlético Madrid vs Eibar; Espanyol vs Sevilla; Villarreal vs Barcelona; Real Sociedad vs Real Madrid; Deportivo La Coruña vs Rayo Vallecano; Elche vs Granada.

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.