Leaders Barcelona face a test from Valencia in a weekend of reunions and local rivalries
LaLiga Santander leaders Barcelona faces a stiff test this weekend, with plenty of emotional reunions and opportunities for revenge against local rivals among the exciting fixtures.
Full fixture schedule
Tabletoppers Barça will need to be at their best at the Camp Nou against Valencia, with a lot having changed for both teams since their 1-1 at Mestalla in October. Blaugrana talisman and league top scorer Lionel Messi has hit another hot streak recently, but Los Che has also clicked in recent weeks with centre-forward Rodrigo Moreno among the goals.
Second-placed Atletico de Madrid travel to Real Betis on Sunday afternoon, in what could be a debut for both Atletico’s loan signing Alvaro Morata and Betis’ new arrival Jese Rodriguez, two forwards who know each other well having come through the ranks together at Real Madrid.
Real Madrid themselves will aim for a fourth straight LaLiga Santander win on Sunday evening at the Bernabeu, with visitors Alaves having hit a dip recently but able to draw confidence from their famous 1-0 win against Los Blancos in their first meeting of 2018/19.
The action begins Friday evening when bottom team Huesca will be looking to build on recent improved performances when they host a Valladolid side who got a crucial victory over RC Celta last time out. Saturday’s early game has Levante at home to Getafe, two teams in mixed form lately with the fixture having ended in a draw in five of the last LaLiga seasons.
Then comes a big Basque derby, with Athletic Bilbao travelling to Real Sociedad with Los Leones looking for revenge for the Txuri-urdin’s 3-1 victory in October’s reverse fixture. Both clubs have changed coach since then, with results improving since both Gaizka Garitano and Imanol Alguacil were promoted from the B teams to their respective senior sides.
Saturday’s late game sees 18th placed Celta looking for an upturn in fortunes against a Sevilla team riding high in fourth spot in the table but without a LaLiga Santander win on the road since September.
Sunday’s action begins with Javi Calleja returning to the Villarreal bench for a second spell as coach this season. Espanyol is the visitor at the Estadio de la Ceramica looking for a first three points away from home since October.
Eibar against Girona on Sunday afternoon is a meeting of two mid-table teams who need to keep picking up points to stay clear of the drop zone, with the Basques having beaten the Catalans in a five-goal thriller back in the autumn.
Monday’s game is another Madrid derby, with Rayo Vallecano hoping to continue a run of 13 points from their last five LaLiga games at home to a Leganes side who have already beaten their local rivals in both LaLiga and the Copa del Rey this season.
LaLiga table as it stands
Remember that kickoff times in Kenya are two hours later than those published for Spanish audiences on these graphics.