This weekend’s list of fixtures will see table toppers Atletico Madrid back at the Vicente Calderon to take on reigning champions Barcelona, while Real Madrid will travel North to San Sebastian to take on Real Sociedad. Mallorca will play hosts to Osasuna at the Ono Estadi while Almeria will visit Barcelona to play against Espanyol and giant slayers Hercules will take on the other team sitting atop the table, Valencia. Other match ups for the weekend include Sporting Gijon playing hosts to Athletic Bilbao, Racing taking on Zaragoza, Malaga home to Sevilla and Deportivo up against Getafe.
The weekend kicks off on Saturday with two matches, Espanyol vs Almeria and Mallorca vs Osasuna. Espanyol will no doubt be looking to make Cornella El Pratt their fortress this season and will also be hoping to put last weekend’s trouncing at the hands of Villarreal behind them by taking all three points against Almeria, who themselves are hoping to get their first win of the season at the expense of Los Periquitos. In the other match up, Osasuna and Mallorca have had similar starts to their season, each coming off a loss in the previous round and both will be vying for a win with the hope of staying clear of the bottom of the table.
The match that follows on Saturday will see Sporting Gijon playing hosts to Athletic Bilbao at El Molinon, where last weekend Sporting Gijon managed to grab their first win and subsequently their first points in the league against Mallorca and will be hoping to take three more points when Athletic Bilbao visits. The visitors will be hoping to steer their campaign back on to the right track by taking all three points in Gijon as they were beaten last weekend, in a thrilling game, by Atletico Madrid in San Mames. The visitors will be without influential players Iker Muñain, David Lopez and Gaizka Toquero who are all out due to injury.
The final match on Saturday will see Real Madrid travel North up to San Sebastian to take on Real Sociedad in what should be an emotional return for Xabi Alonso against his boy hood club. After he was a late scratch from Real’s Champion’s League encounter against Ajax, Sergio Ramos has returned to full fitness and was included on the roster by Mourinho. Real Madrid will be looking to add to their points tally by taking three points from the Anoeta but the hosts will not sit back and give it to them, they will have to play a well organized game in defence as well as find ways to break down a stubborn Sociedad defence. One can’t help but think that this should be an easy win for Real Madrid but Real Sociedad is never easy to beat at home and it will be a tough match but I can’t see Real leaving with less than their three points.
Sunday sees three early matches kick off. These are Hercules vs Valencia, Racing taking on Real Zaragoza and Levante taking on Villarreal. The team that is on everyone’s lips from last weekend’s match day, Hercules will be hoping they can follow up on last weekend’s triumphant victory over Barcelona by defeating another heavy weight when they play hosts to Valencia at the Jose Rico Perez stadium. Valencia will be looking to secure the three points and hoping that the later match between Barcelona and Atletico end in a result favoring them, which would ensure that they are the sole leaders in the league at the end of the match day with maximum points from their first three games. Racing who after picking up two losses in their first matches will be hoping to gain their first point(s) of the competition when they meet Real Zaragoza. The visiting team themselves will be pushing for a win to distance themselves from the early threat of the relegation zone. Both teams will be doing what they can to gain three points from the encounter as they cannot afford to let too many points slip from them this early in the competition. Levante like Racing are yet to pick up a win and have been victims of the the same scoreline in the previous two match days, losing 4-1 to Sevilla at home and then on the road to Getafe, but, they will be taking on a tough Villarreal side who seem to have found their feet. Regardless of playing at home Levante still faces a task in beating Villarreal, especially a Villarreal on a good day.
The big match up of the weekend will pit newly crowned European Super Cup winners Atletico Madrid up against reigning League champs Barcelona at the Vicente Calderon. Atletico have made an impressive start to their Liga season and will certainly be looking to keep that run going and after a defeat in their mid week Europa league encounter against lowly Greek side Aris, they will be hoping to bounce back and put the tragedy behind them by beating Barcelona. The visitors are still licking their wounds after last weekend’s upset and certainly will be keen on getting back to winning ways but it won’t be an easy match for them since over the past three seasons they have found it difficult to get a win at the Calderon. Atletico may be without Czech defender Tomas Ujfalusi and star striker Sergio Aguero who are doubts going into the weekend.
The final match of the day will see Malaga play hosts to Sevilla in what should be an interesting encounter. Sevilla was dealt a huge blow this week after Renato picked up a knee injury in training and star man Jesus Navas picked up an ankle injury in their mid week Europa League defeat against Paris Saint Germain and both players will be sidelined for at least three weeks. Malaga are coming off an impressive win over Real Zaragoza and will be hoping they can take three more points at the expense of Los Nervionenses. The key player for Malaga will be new boy Quincy and Sevilla will have to slow him down to thwart all the Malaga attacks.
Our Monday night game will pit Deportivo against Getafe. Deportivo is yet to win a game this season and will be hoping they can pick up their first win in front of the home fans. Getafe are coming off a solid victory over Levante and will want to leave El Riazor with at the very least a point.
My predicted winners for the weekend are: Athletic Bilbao, Real Madrid, Villarreal, Sevilla, Espanyol and call me crazy but I’m going to bank on Atletico pulling out yet another Vicente Calderon win over Barcelona provided they have the services of El Kun, if not a win, I think a draw. Both Mallorca and Osasuna have shown a lack of creativity but have both shown their defence can be solid so I think a bore draw is on the cards for these two. If this were a few years ago and Hercules didn’t have the likes of Trezeguet, Valdez and Drenthe then looking at the Hercules-Valencia match up it would have been an easy prediction with me picking Valencia for an easy win but given Hercules’ accomplishment last weekend, having their own players capable of providing magic and their stubborn defence (which was also demonstrated in their first league game but was just undone by a great strike from Llorente), the match will be a hard one to call and I just think they may be able to match Valencia blow for blow. The Racing-Zaragoza match is complicated to call but I think Real Zaragoza will edge this one as Racing look absolutely toothless and could possibly be one of the teams we’ve been so accustomed to seeing in the top flight be relegated come season’s end but it is still early days in the league and the table is still forming it’s shape but this game will certainly be key to a team like Racing who may well be fighting relegation for much of the season and I believe Deportivo may well be picking up their third consecutive draw of the season when they meet Getafe on Monday night at El Riazor.