With Barça. Valencia and Real Madrid all playing on Saturday evening, we could again see some quick handing over of the top spot in La Liga, with just one point separating the three as they go into round eight of the season.
Villarreal play late on Sunday, at home to Atletico Madrid.
Confidence high at the Bernabeu
Real Madrid’s 2-0 win over Milan in midweek, coming on the back of two impressive league wins in which they scored more goals than they’d previously managed all season, seems to have given the Bernabeu camp an air of optimism that’s been absent for quite a while. For Saturday’s visit of Racing Santander they will still be missing the injured Sergio Ramos, but Canales is back in the squad against his old team. Racing boss Miguel Angel Portugal, whose team have had a tough start on the road losing in Valencia and Villarreal, whilst getting a valuable point in Seville, has warned Madrid to expect “an ugly game”.
Valencia hope to bounce back
Valencia were much less impressive in Europe on Wednesday night and after losing the top spot and their unbeaten record last week, they need to bounce back when they entertain Mallorca who have yet to win a game away so far this season and have only taken one point and scored one goal on the road(though both were taken at the Nou Camp!). Arduriz looks likely to start for Valencia against his old team alongside Soldado, whilst Laudrup will probably try the same tactics that worked so well against Barça.
Villarreal to keep the pressure on
Villarreal missed a golden chance to go top when they could only draw against Hercules last Monday, but they will aim to keep the pressure on the top three with a win at home to Atletico Madrid on Sunday night. Borja Valero and Mussachio were both sent off against Hercules and will miss Sunday’s game, whilst Juan Carlos Garrido is also sweating on the fitness of Angel, Marcos Senna and Marchena. Villarreal have won all six home games in La Liga and the Europa Cup so far, whilst Athletico, who hope to have De Gea back in goal, have beaten Bilbao, drawn in Valencia and lost in Seville in their three away games.
Espanyol could move past Atletico if Villarreal win and they can extend their own unbeaten home record against the improving Levante. Espanyol finally won on the road last week and they’ve made Cornella into a fortress, but Levante are finding their feet in La Liga and after losing their first three games, they are now unbeaten in their last four – though they have still to record an away win. Seville could also move back into the top six if they can come back from last week’s poor performance against Sporting, but they will face a tough task when Bilbao visit the Sanchez Pijuan on Sunday. One place below Bilbao, Getafe need to put an end to their inconsistent form that’s seen them lose four of their last six games, when they entertain Sporting.
Points needed down at the bottom
Deportivo and Real Sociedad are both in desperate need of points and the two meet in Donostia on Monday night. Real have looked impressive at home, beating Villarreal and Espanyol and only narrowly going down to Real Madrid, but Deportivo, still without a win all season, have taken just one point from a draw in Seville, whilst losing at Villarreal and Real Madrid. Osasuna and Malaga are also in need of a win and the two meet in Pamplona with Pandiani and Aranda likely to start up front for Camacho, who will also have Puñal back, whilst Malaga will be without the injured Rondon, who impressed last week against Madrid.