La Liga Preview: Gameweek 138 min read
La Liga’s Gameweek 13 certainly boasts some high-stakes fixtures. After a brilliant run across their first dozen games of the season, Barcelona and Valencia occupy first and second place in the division, but the two must come to loggerheads in Mestalla on Sunday evening. Such a six-pointer leaves the door open for the likes of Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid to try and close the gap.
There’s also another intriguing Sunday afternoon fixture, as a Sevilla side who haven’t won on the road since mid-September visit high-flying Villareal.
Malaga have been much-improved lately in La Liga, recording a couple of home wins to boost their spirits, but a trip to Estadio Santiago Bernabeu comes at an inopportune time. Should Los Blancos win on the weekend, their supposed ‘crisis’ will be a thing of the past. For Diego Simeone’s side, they face the unenviable task of trying to break down an organised Levante.
Real Madrid vs Malaga
Michel’s men arrive in the Spanish capital with a dreadful away record to their name so far this season, having lost all six of their jaunts away from La Rosaleda. They’ve only found the back of the net in a 2-1 defeat to second-tier Numancia in the Copa del Rey, firing blanks in all six of their fixtures on the road in La Liga. The form book doesn’t point to this fixture being capable of kickstarting a resurgence.
Real Madrid, in contrast, have won their last three home matches in the Spanish top flight without conceding a goal. Espanyol, Eibar and Las Palmas have all come to Estadio Santiago Bernabeu and failed to find the back of the net, with struggling Malaga appearing to be set to be the next. Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo both scored against APOEL in the Champions League midweek, meaning that they should be confident of replicating that form heading into the weekend.
Real Madrid to Win to Nil
Real Madrid to Win, Over 3.5 Goals and Paul Baysse to get booked
Villarreal vs Sevilla
Spirited performance from Villarreal, who look better under Calleja. Pablo Fornals, in particular, is much more like himself of late.
— Simon Harrison (@simonhfootball) October 15, 2017
The home side remain unbeaten in La Liga since the organic promotion of Javi Calleja to first-team boss, but Sevilla are the biggest test that Villarreal have faced thus far at their La Ceramica stadium this season. The Yellow Submarine are unbeaten at home in league action, and have kept four consecutive clean sheets ahead of this contest. They last conceded in front of their own fans back in mid-September.
Sevilla have lost their last four consecutive matches away from home in the league, with Atletico Madrid, Athletic Club, Valencia and Barcelona making up a very difficult run for Eduardo Berizzo’s men. It isn’t set to get any easier against a confident Villarreal, who have the likes of Pablo Fornals, Carlos Bacca and Cedric Bakambu firing on all cylinders in recent weeks.
Villarreal to Win
Levante vs Atletico Madrid
Diego Simeone’s men are still unbeaten in La Liga, but their performance levels aren’t hitting the standards required. A midweek win against Roma in the Champions League will have helped their confidence, with Antoine Griezmann getting on the scoresheet in spectacular fashion, but there are still big question marks with regard to their firepower and creativity. Levante keep things compact and organised, and should therefore be a nightmare opponent for Atletico Madrid to try and break down.
The visitors have conceded just once in their last five league away games, but Levante come into this weekend having lost just one of their last five in the league too. This contest isn’t likely to be very pretty, with there set to be not a great deal between the two sides. The hosts are missing Jefferson Lerma in central midfield due to injury and have just one fit striker available, meaning that shutting up shop for a point should be at the top of their priority list.
Valencia vs Barcelona
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) October 31, 2017
Four points separate these two sides at the top of LaLiga’s table, with Barcelona heading into Sunday’s huge clash as leaders. Both outfits are unbeaten across the division’s first dozen matches, scoring 32 and 33 goals respectively. These are two dangerous, well-drilled teams, with intelligent coaches. Based on the form book, there is not much to choose between them, and this promises to be one of the best contests of the campaign as a whole.
Gerard Pique is missing due to suspension for the away side, with Jeison Murillo out injured for Los Che. Key central defensive absences could open things up a little more, with Valencia set to be much more confident of breaking down the league leaders with a clear weakness in the heart of their defence. That said, Ernesto Valverde has had a tactical answer to most questions this season and Luis Suarez is back among the goals.
Valencia are on an eight-game winning run in the league and have dropped just two points at Mestalla all season. After keeping clean sheets in five of their six matches in front of their own fans, Marcelino should be confident that Los Che are more than capable of going toe-to-toe with Barca. The hosts play on the break and should be happy to cede possession to their opponents, before using their incredible pace on the counter to cause the Blaugrana problems.
Both Teams to Score and Draw
Goncalo Guedes to Score Anytime, 2-2 scoreline, Dani Parejo to get booked