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Thursday, 7 March 2019

LALIGA: BARCELONA, RAYO VALLECANO, ATLETICO DE MADRID READY FOR BATTLE

Clear leaders Barcelona are aiming to remain on track for the title in a LaLiga Santander weekend full of derby clashes with an impact at both the top and bottom of the table.

Barcelona will be even more confident after last Sunday’s El Clasico victory over Real Madrid, when they return to action against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday afternoon. 19th placed Rayo really need a boost after five straight LaLiga Santander defeats; the last time they picked up a point at the Camp Nou was back in 2001. Second placed Atletico de Madrid welcome Spanish capital rivals Leganes to the Wanda Metropolitano for Saturday afternoon’s derby clash. The close neighbours drew 1-1 in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, although Diego Simeone’s men really need all three points to keep up the pressure on Barça.

Third placed Real Madrid will look to bounce back from their El Clasico defeat when they travel to Real Valladolid on Sunday evening. It should be an emotional game for Valladolid president Ronaldo Nazario, a teammate of current Blancos coach Santi Solari during their time as players at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. The weekend’s action begins at San Mames in Bilbao, where an Athletic Club side very strong at home take on in-form Espanyol, whose new Chinese signing Wu Lei scored his first LaLiga goal last weekend.

Saturday starts off with another regional derby, this time in the Basque city of Vitoria. High-flying Alaves will continue their unlikely bid for Champions League qualification against local rivals Eibar, who are also flying high after just one defeat in their last six LaLiga outings. Bottom side Huesca have really given themselves hope of an amazing relegation escape with 10 points from their last five LaLiga Santander games, but they won’t find it easy at Getafe on Saturday evening. 



The suburban Madrid side have gone one better over that period to climb to fourth in the table. Sunday morning sees a debut for former Elche, Getafe and Villarreal coach Fran Escriba in his new job in charge of 17th placed RC Celta, with the visitors to Balaidos a Real Betis side who have hit a difficult run of form but remain in the top half. Two upwardly mobile teams meet in Catalonia early Sunday afternoon, with hosts Girona having taken seven points from their last nine available in LaLiga, and visitors Valencia climbing up to seventh spot in the table thanks to an eight-match unbeaten run. The action then switches down the coast for a regional derby at Levante’s Ciutat de Valencia stadium. One win in six LaLiga games has Levante looking anxiously over their shoulders, while a similar run of results has Villarreal stuck down in 18th place. Sevilla and Real Sociedad, meanwhile, will be looking to bounce back from last week’s defeats when they meet on Sunday afternoon at the Estadio Sanchez-Pizjuan, with both clubs also well in the race for the coveted European qualification spots. Watch Matchday 27 of LaLiga Santander this weekend on Super Sport 7
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