It’s been an interesting few weeks for Real Madrid. Last weekend’s defeat at the hands of Girona ended a run of 58 matches since Los Blancos had avoided defeat against a newly-promoted club: a record that dated back to a loss to Almeria in 2008.
Zinedine Zidane is a manager who is more accustomed to winning Champions League trophies than he is to losing football matches. He’ll be hoping that his side can come out strongly when they take on relegation contenders Las Palmas this Sunday.
Colin Millar has picked that match as one of three La Liga fixtures to keep an eye on this week.
1 Barcelona vs Sevilla
Ernesto Valverde was awarded a slice of fortune with this season’s fixture list, with his team only having had to play two of the league’s top nine in their opening ten fixtures. To their credit, the Blaugrana have capitalised upon this quirk by dropping only two points in that run of fixtures and building a four-point lead in the league, eight over Real Madrid.
Sevilla meanwhile have had a tougher time, losing each of their last three La Liga away matches without scoring a goal. It doesn’t get any easier in the next few weeks for Eduardo Berizzo’s men who now have a trip to the Camp Nou before away games against Villarreal, Real Madrid and Real Sociedad.
Los Rojiblancos have picked up only one point from their last 13 league away matches at Barcelona with the last La Liga victory coming in 2002. However, with Sergi Roberto and Andre Gomes adding to a growing injury list for the home side – who have already ruled out Rafinha, Ousmane Dembele, Aleix Vidal and Andres Iniesta – this game has added interest.
Barcelona underwhelmed in their goalless midweek draw at Olympiakos with the journey to Greece potentially draining players and adding injury concerns to an already-stretched squad. As such, they will be keen to avoid dropping further points against a side who have recently returned to form with three victories in the past ten days.
2 Real Madrid vs Las Palmas
After suffering back-to-back defeats for the first time in his managerial tenure, all eyes will be on Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid this weekend.
On the face of it they have been scheduled a somewhat gentle fixture to get back into their winning routine. Las Palmas sit in La Liga’s bottom three and have lost six league matches in succession, including all four since coach Pako Ayestaran was instilled.
Last weekend’s 3-1 loss at home to Deportivo La Coruna set an unwanted league record for Ayestaran who became the first manager to suffer eleven successive defeats after losing his final seven matches with Valencia last season.
However, each of the meetings between the two sides last season finished in enthralling draws. The clash at the Bernabeu was particularly memorable, with Los Amarillos five minutes away from a memorable 3-1 victory in the capital before two late Cristiano Ronaldo goals salvaged a point for the hosts.
With both managers facing pressure, a below-par result for either will only increase the scrutiny surrounding them.
3 Real Betis vs Getafe
Friday night’s La Liga clash sees two sides who are exceeding early expectations go head-to-head in Seville. Getafe’s last visit to the Estadio Benito Villamarin saw their 12-year stint in the top flight come to an end and they return this time with six former Betis players.
One of the alumni, Francisco Portillo, admitted this match would be ‘extra special’ for him and his teammates due to the ‘immense respect’ they have for their former club. His teammate, striker Jorge Molina, netted 66 goals across six seasons with Los Verdiblancos.
Data released earlier this week revealed that Betis enjoyed the 28th highest average attendance in Europe last season with an average of 48,500 fans – more than Paris Saint-Germain – and they have been one of the league’s entertainers this year. Only Barcelona and Valencia have scored more than their tally of 19 with recent results including a 6-3 loss to Valencia and 4-4 draw at Real Sociedad.
Getafe have the sixth-best defence in the division after their summer promotion and were unfortunate to emerge with one-goal defeats in games against Barcelona, Real Madrid and Sevilla this season. Their game at Betis represents a clash of styles with lots of familiar faces.
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