Another weekend is here and for most of us fans our television sets will be fixed on nothing but football or soccer, call it what you will, watching all the leagues around the world. All hoping that our teams earn the vital three points that could take them closer to securing the league title or for those who support the smaller clubs, avoid relegation, secure a place in Europe’s elite competition or even the second grade Europa league competition. Whatever it is, we all hope to see one thing; our teams winning! And winning by a comfortable margin is even more appreciated. However, for now it is too early to start speaking about winning the title or being relegated and though we can assume the teams that will be there or thereabout come season’s end it is still too early to get into that debate until a fair amount of games have been played.
Round 6 is now here in La Liga and although still fairly early days, the table is not what most had foreseen with the league’s two richest clubs lying in 3rd and 4th place, while the team that had financial difficulties only last season, mind you still having some spot of bother with their finances, sitting atop the table, looking more resolute than ever and seem to be getting better with each game they play but yet to be given any real tough test. Meanwhile their modest neighbors sit in 2nd place, who themselves also seem to becoming more stable as the season pushes on and their forwards look to be hitting some good form as we go along but again still too early to start getting excited because as we all know, sooner or later the stars will begin to shine and the big boys will start to mount their title ambitions.
Real Zaragoza vs Sporting Gijon
The weekend will kick off with struggling Zaragoza playing hosts to Sporting Gijon, who themselves are just coming off a second consecutive loss, to league leaders Valencia. Real Zaragoza sit dead last in the league table gaining only two points from the first five games of the season, scoring a meager 3 goals and conceding 8. The Zaragoza faithfuls will be hoping to see their team turn their campaign around as they would not like to relive the 2007/08 campaign where the team was relegated to the 2nd division at the end of the season. Sporting Gijon on the other hand, not much distance between themselves and Zaragoza, has had some what of an “ok” start to their season earning a win and a draw good enough for 4 points and understandably losing their other three matches to very strong opponents- Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. Gijon will be hoping they can continue picking up the points against opponents evenly matched or weaker and having not scored in their previous two matches will be looking to improve those fortunes. The previous two matches between these two teams saw Gijon get the better of Zaragoza on the road with that match finishing 3-1 in favor of the rojiblancos, while the other leg finished 1-1 in El Molinon. So, Zaragoza may have their work cut out and even more so they have some injury concerns in defence as goalkeeper Leo Franco will be missing through injury, center-back Jarosik is in a race against time to be match fit while, ex-Barca man Edmilson is said to have a knee injury and may not be ready in time for the game on Saturday. However, Gijon’s camp may be the happier of the two as they will be welcoming back Ayoze and Carmelo while Gregory should be fit enough to also play some part in the game.
Real Sociedad vs Espanyol
Espanyol will be making the trek to San Sebastian to face Real Sociedad in the Anoeta in what should be a tight affair. Real Sociedad has had an erratic start to their season with their last 5 league results being, WDLLL. Having lost their last three games Sociedad will be hoping to turn their fortunes around on home turf and earn themselves maximum points against Espanyol, who is yet to gain as much as a point on the road, although they played against two very strong opponents at home- Villarreal and Real Madrid. Espanyol sit in 6th place with 9 points, 10 places above Sociedad and a 5 point gap between the two. The head to head statistics show that in the their last four league encounters Espanyol have been undefeated picking up three wins and a draw against the hosts. As the current teams stand, Real Sociedad’s coach has a 100% healthy squad to select from while Pochettino will be missing a whole host of players such as midfield genius De La Peña, Victor Ruiz and Datolo, while there are strong doubts as to whether David Garcia and Sergio Garcia may be fit in time for the match.
Valencia vs Athletic Bilbao
One of the big match ups of the weekend and the final game on Saturday- Valencia hosting Bilbao in what should be a thriller as Valencia will be putting their leadership as well as their undefeated record on the line when they welcome the Basque team to the Mestalla. Bilbao has had a good start to their season picking up 7 points from the their opening five games, losing only two games to strong opponents in Atletico Madrid and Barcelona. Their form in the last five games are WLDWL, good enough for 9th place in the table. Valencia on the other hand remains one of the only two teams to be undefeated in the league having won 4 games and drew 1. The last 4 league meetings between these two has seen Valencia secure maximum points on three occasions while keeping a clean sheet in two of those encounters while Bilbao have only managed one win in the last four encounters. Both teams are close to a clean bill of health as Valencia’s Maduro, who had a hamstring scare in the Manchester United game, should be available for selection, while key man Joaquin will be absent through injury as well as Banega who is still recovering. Bilbao on the other hand will be welcoming back the hard working Toqeuro but will miss Amorebieta through suspension after he was sent off last weekend against Barcelona.
Sevilla vs Atletico Madrid
After a rocky start to the campaign Sevilla will be welcoming Atletico Madrid to the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán in what normally is an electrifying, sometimes testy game. The match will mark the debut of Sevilla’s new coach Gregorio Manzano who will take charge of his first La Liga game with his new team. The Sevillistas will be hoping that they can get their campaign back on the right track by securing a win over Atletico on Sunday. Atletico has had a flying start to their campaign winning their first three games of the new campaign and picking up a draw and loss against Valencia and Barcelona respectively. The last four league meetings between these two teams have seen Sevilla come out victorious on three occasions winning two on home turf and one away from home, while Atleti have won only one of the four encounters, the only victory coming at home back in January by a score of 2-1. The past four encounters have seen 11 goals between the two and we can expect to see goals scored in this fixture at the weekend. Both teams should have a full strength squad with Atletico only missing Reyes due to suspension after he was sent off last weekend against Zaragoza while new signing Godin is out due to a knee injury he picked up last weekend. Atletico is sitting in 5th place two spots and coincidentally two points above Sevilla.
Getafe vs Hercules
Getafe will be welcoming newly promoted but proving to be a real dark-horse, Hercules to the Coliseum on Sunday in what should be a very interesting yet close game. Getafe are coming off a 1-0 victory in league against Racing Santander last weekend with Victor Sanchez scoring the game’s only goal. However, they lost out 2-0 to Swiss team BSC Young Boys in their Europa League encounter and will be looking to get the bitter taste of defeat out of their mouths when they welcome Hercules. The visitors on the other hand is coming off a wonderful 2-0 upset of Sevilla that was the eventual straw that broke the camel’s back for Los Nervionenses’ coach Antonio Alvarez. Hercules have been undefeated on the road thus far this season picking up a win and a draw and currently sit in 8th place of the league two places above Getafe but only by virtue of goal difference. Michel will have some serious injury concerns with his latest casualty being defender Mario, who will be out for at least six months after rupturing his Achilles Tendon midweek. Michel will also have to do without Manu, Rafa, Arizmendi and Casquero, all of whom are injured. On the other side of the pitch, Hercules will be welcoming back Nelson Valdez who was out of contention for a couple of weeks after a groin injury.
Villarreal vs Racing Santander
Struggling Racing will be travelling to an in form Villarreal with the hopes of causing an upset, however, it seems quite unlikely but in football is anything really unlikely? After their opening day loss to Real Sociedad, Villarreal have notched up five straight victories, four in league and a one in the Europa League. Racing on the other hand have had a torrid time in the league with up and down performances mingled with bore games and a lack of edge. Eight points separate the two teams with Racing’s record for their last five league games- LLWDL. The last four league encounters between these two teams see Villarreal undefeated against the Verdiblancos winning three and drawing one, with the yellow submarines’ last two home victories ending by the same scoreline 2-0. As it stands the only omission from Villarreal’s squad is Cani after he picked up an injury in their midweek fixture against Club Brugge, while the only injury concern for Racing is Arana however, they will have to do without the services of Markus Rosenberg after he was sent off last weekend.
Almeria vs Malaga
Almeria finally broke the ducks and earned themselves the first victory of the season after inflicting a 2-0 defeat to Deportivo in La Coruña. Malaga on the other hand will be kicking themselves for losing to Villarreal in what was a thrilling encounter and would have fully deserved a win or a draw had they had the fortune of gaining such against the yellow submarines. Malaga will be hoping the good form of both Quincy and Rondon continue as both players have been key to what has been a good start to the season for the visitors, having only lost to strong oppositions- Valencia, Sevilla and Villarreal. They have been perfect on the road picking up their only wins away to Zaragoza and Getafe. While Almeria on the other hand have had themselves a poor start to the campaign with one win, two draws and two losses. Almeria may be looking to their past success against Malaga as aid in motivating them to do well in the upcoming match as they have won three of the last four league encounters between the two teams, while losing only one on the road to Malaga. Almeria will have to do without Nieto as he recently underwent ankle surgery while Pellerano and Vargas are doubtful for the game. On the other side, Malaga will have a full squad to choose from- Eliseu’s red card last match was appealed and has been cleared and recorded as a yellow card as the FA deemed the incident a yellow card offence so he will be available for selection.
Osasuna vs Levante
Two possible relegation candidates will meet on Sunday in Pamplona with Osasuna welcoming Levante to the Reyno de Navarra. Osasuna have been undefeated on home turf and it has been the only source of points for the rojillos thus far, earning a win and a draw against Real Sociedad and Almeria respectively. Osasuna have been struggling to score goals all season with their only three goals coming against Sociedad on home turf in subsequently their first and only win thus far; they have been shut out in their other four league games. Levante on the other hand are somewhat on cloud nine having gained a valuable point at home last weekend against giants Real Madrid after a 0-0 result. Luis Garcia will be hoping that the sturdy, physical defence his team showed against Real Madrid will be evident in the match against Osasuna and that they will be able to break down the home team’s well organized defence. Osasuna have secured three wins out of their last four league encounters against Levante, while the visitors have managed only one win, that 2-1 victory coming in the two teams’ last league encounter back in February 2008. Osasuna will be without Lolo who was sent off last weekend against Espanyol, while Sergio, Nekounam and Masoud are all doutbful prior to Sunday’s game. Levante on the other hand will definitely be without Nacho Gonzalez who picked up a knee injury last weekend and Del Horno, while Caicedo is doubtful.
Barcelona vs Mallorca
Third place Barcelona will welcome Mallorca to the Camp Nou this weekend. Mallorca have been deplorable on the road losing all their road games so far this season, scoring no goals and conceding five. Even more problematic for the visitors is that their last two away games to Barcelona have been loses, being out scored by 6 goals to 2, as well they have only defeated Barca once in the last five attempts. Barcelona are coming off a bitter draw with Russian team Rubin Kazan after Villa rescued a point from the spot for the Catalan giants. The hosts will be hoping to secure victory and heap some pressure unto rivals Real Madrid who’s match will kick off right after the Catalans. The hosts will be welcoming back Lionel Messi, who made a cameo in their midweek Champion’s League fixture, back to action on Sunday. However, they will be without Xavi and Adriano through injury while Villa is unavailable due to his sending off last weekend against Bilbao. Mallorca has a fairly clean bill of health with their only certain absentees being captain Nunes and Tuni, while Corrales and Victor will be game time decisions.
Real Madrid vs Deportivo la Coruña
The final league match of the weekend and for another two weeks will be fourth place Real Madrid playing hosts to a struggling Deportivo, who is currently 19th in the table having picked up only three points from their opening five games and are yet to pick up a win this season. Both teams had a disappointing weekend last week and will be hoping to rectify the situation on Sunday. However, Real Madrid remain undefeated in the league and coach Jose Mourinho has a 138 home league games undefeated record span over 8 years. Even more dampening on the spirit of the Deportivo faithful is the fact that they have failed to record a victory over Real Madrid in the last three league attempts as well they have been having trouble hitting the back of the net this season and their only two goals this season have come from the penalty spot both against Getafe. Real Madrid will still be without Kaka, Albiol, Garay, Gago (who started light training) and Canales all out due to injury, while Pedro Leon may not be called up due to the recent falling out between the player and the boss; Mourinho is yet to release the squad list for the upcoming match. Deportivo will be without Riki who is injured while Colotto is suspended after he was sent off last weekend while Manuel Pablo and Pablo Alvarez are doubtful for the match.
Top Matches of the weekend
- Valencia vs Athletic Bilbao: this should be a very good match between two very strong teams
- Sevilla vs Atletico Madrid: a match that is known to be electrifying and testy will certainly be a cracker to watch
- Barcelona vs Mallorca: a match that is never lacking in goals more from the home team but there is possibly hope for Mallorca as Laudrup stated earlier in the week that his team will not be heading to the Camp Nou to sit back and invite Barcelona unto them but to go out and attack.
- Real Madrid vs Deportivo: this could be a potentially dangerous match for the home team if they under-estimate the opposition because of their current form or position. However, Real Madrid are unlikely to drop three points at home and it should be entertaining as the home team will be hoping to rectify their lack of goal scoring so far this season
After this weekend’s matches the league will take a break for international fixtures and will resume on the 16th October. Be sure to visit my blog for a review of match day 6.