With barely time to catch breath, the weekend at the Spanish La Liga football championship sees FC Barcelona and Real Madrid facing accessible rivals away from home, while Atletico Madrid entertain second placed Sevilla.
The Wanda Metropolitano Stadium here will host Atletico’s second home match when the capital club, which moved into third place in midweek, take on second placed Sevilla in what promises to be a fascinating game, reports Xinhua news agency.
Atletico are the same tough rivals as ever and although Sevilla sometimes need time to hit top gear, Eduardo Berizzo’s side is quickly taking onboard their new coach’s message and playing flowing attacking football.
There is a crisis at Real Madrid after Wednesday’s shock home defeat to Betis left them seven points behind Barcelona, but their crisis is nothing compared to Saturday’s hosts Alaves who have kicked off the season with five defeats and no goals in their opening five matches.
Real full-back Theo Hernandez will miss out on a return to Alaves’ ground where he played last season with a shoulder injury, while left-back Marcelo, striker Karim Benzema and midfielder Mateo Kovacic are also sidelined through injury. Young striker Borja Mayoral may get another start.
The alarm bells are already ringing at Real, if they fail to win in Vitoria they will come under immense pressure.
In contrast everything is going smoothly for Barcelona, who have won five games out of five in the league and have Lionel Messi scoring goals almost at will. The Argentinean has nine goals in five league matches and will expect to add to that in a Catalan derby away to newly promoted Girona.
There is great expectation in the Montilivi Stadium, but after three games in which they have failed to score, Girona will need to do something special to stop Barcelona maintaining their 100 per cent record at the start of the campaign.
Malaga are another side who have lost all five games this season and failure to defeat Athletic Club Bilbao, who have had 24 hours less to prepare for Saturday’s game will almost certainly cost head coach Michel Gonzalez his job.
Sunday’s standout game sees Real Sociedad entertain an improving Valencia with the Basque team needing to bounce back after consecutive defeats took the edge off their winning start to the season.
Valencia meanwhile will look to build on Tuesday’s 5-0 thrashing of Malaga in which Italian forward Simone Zaza scored a hat-trick.
Espanyol appear to be improving after their slow start to the campaign and take on Deportivo la Coruna, who defeated Alaves on Wednesday night.
Celta Vigo coach Juan Carlos Unzue needs his side to produce the goods against hosts Eibar’s Ipurua Stadium, where the home side has had 48 extra hours rest to lick their wounds following Tuesday’s defeat to Barcelona.
Getafe will test Villarreal’s erratic start to the season while the round of games ends on Monday as a euphoric Betis entertain fifth placed Levante, who have so far been this season’s surprise package.