La Liga Weekend Preview: Can Levante Continue To Impress6 min read
After an international break that seemed to last an eternity, LaLiga returns with a few excellent clashes on Saturday afternoon. Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona all pit their wits against contrasting opposition, with Diego Simeone’s side’s trip to Mestalla to size up Valencia looking to be the pick of the bunch. We picked out some particular value for the weekend’s action in Spain.
Real Madrid vs Levante
Levante have been one of the surprise packages so far in LaLiga, but a trip to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu is enough to worry any side in Europe. Both teams arrive with four points from their opening two fixtures, with Los Blancos itching to set the record straight after drawing 2-2 with Valencia at home before the international break.
The away side have plenty of exciting options to use on the break, which could prove useful if they take a few stylistic pointers from Valencia’s game too. Enis Bardhi is a real threat from set pieces, while the likes of Ivi, Jason and the marauding Tono from left back will be looking to be a recipe to ruffle a few feathers in the Spanish capital.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, will improve on their 70-game consecutive scoring run, with plenty of their forward-thinking players either in excellent form or desperate to impress. Isco and Marco Asensio have been in terrific shape of late, with Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale needing to prove their worth ahead of the imminent return of Cristiano Ronaldo from suspension. Thrills look to be guaranteed.
Both Teams to Score
Real Madrid to Win and Both Teams to Score
Valencia vs Atletico Madrid
Diego Simeone may have signed a new two-year contract with Atletico Madrid this week, but their short-term future is much more doubtful. After getting off to an extremely sluggish start against Girona, which saw key man Antoine Griezmann sent off and handed a two-match ban, Los Colchoneros responded with an emphatic 5-1 victory against Las Palmas. Although Atleti were good in Gran Canaria, it was their opposition’s failings that made life easier.
Breaking: Diego Simeone has signed a new 2-year contract with #Atleti.
Show us a better manager outside of the PL. We'll wait.#OleOleOle pic.twitter.com/K8fJ4BiEsK
— BetVictor (@BetVictor) September 5, 2017
Valencia are a completely different unit to last season, and certainly the toughest side that Atletico have been pitted against so far this campaign. What’s more, they’re tasked with breaking down Marcelino’s lines without their best forward talent in Griezmann. An upset is certainly on the cards at Mestalla, with some of their new faces starring in a recent 2-2 away draw with Real Madrid.
Filipe Luis is an important returning player for the visitors, but Marcelino will be confident that his team can come away with something this weekend. Los Che are balanced and work as a cohesive unit, as well as possessing the quality in midfield to pick apart Atleti. It could be a difficult night for the away team, who arrive boasting a likely forward line of Angel Correa and Kevin Gameiro – and Simone Zaza can be a real handful for Valencia.
Simone Zaza to Score Anytime @
Barcelona vs Espanyol
Espanyol are a well-drilled unit, but the reality is that Quique Sanchez Flores’ football is reserved, drab and can be found out by world-class quality. Unfortunately for the visitors, Lionel Messi has looked very sharp in his opening two league games, striking the woodwork on five occasions in addition to his two goals against Deportivo Alaves. Another brace could well be on the cards.
Naldo has looked limited at centre back since joining Espanyol, with an injury to Javi Lopez and a long-term absence for first-choice goalkeeper Diego Lopez also disrupting the visiting lines. Barcelona, meanwhile, welcome Ousmane Dembele into the fold and Luis Suarez back from injury. Gerard Deulofeu scored for Spain during the international break, too, meaning that confidence in the front three should be high.
But for occasional forays forward from the likes of Pablo Piatti, Gerard Moreno and Leo Baptistao, the away side should remain negative. If Barca are allowed to get their noses in front quite early on, the floodgates may well open, but the likely deployment of Pape Diop or Tomas Pina in central midfield highlights that the visitors will want to make a fight of it. Sadly, the hosts have too much quality.
Barcelona to Win to Nil
Lionel Messi to Score 2 or More