Matchday seven in Spain sees the Madrid derby between Atletico and Real Madrid, while FC Barcelona travel to face the tough to beat Getafe. Here are some things to look out for this weekend in Spain.
1. Barca’s away blues to continue?
Barca has struggled on the road this season with two defeats and a draw leading to big questions being asked about coach Ernesto Valverde. Although club captain Gerard Pique has pointed to the club’s pre-season travels as the root of their problems, the fact this is Barca’s third game in the week could cause issues. Indeed, any physical weakness is likely to be exposed by a Getafe side that is always tough to beat in their home ground and has strikers Jaime Mata, Jorge Molina and Angel Rodriguez who can exploit any defensive error.
Lionel Messi is out for Barca with an abductor strain and Valverde will have to choose between teenage sensation Ansu Fati or the talented but irregular Ousmane Dembele to replace him for 90 minutes which could help decide the coach’s future at the club.
2. Tough to call in the Madrid derby
Real Madrid cross town to the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium as league leaders after two wins which have helped to quieten criticism of coach Zinedine Zidane who will know that a good result against Atletico will be another huge step towards recovering his credibility.
Brazilian teenagers Rodrygo and Vinicius Jr scored excellent goals to beat Osasuna on Wednesday and Zidane will have to decide whether to give them another chance or to recall Gareth Bale, who was rested on Wednesday.
He is likely to go for experience against an Atletico side that is tough to break down and which will present a physical challenge with Diego Costa likely to provoke sparks in his clashes with Sergio Ramos in what promises to be a close and hard-fought affair.
3. Sevilla and Real Sociedad should entertain
Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui commented after his side’s 1-0 defeat to Real Madrid last weekend that no side gets the ball into the rival penalty area as often as his team does, but if that is the case then Real Sociedad can’t be far behind them.
The side from San Sebastian has had a good start to the season and are currently second, with summer signings such as Portu, Alexander Isak, Nacho Monreal, and especially Martin Odegaard all impressing.
With strikers Willian Jose and Mikel Oyarzabal also likely to play in the Sanchez Pizjuan, Sunday night’s clash between two sides with hopes of a top-four finish could well be the most entertaining game of the weekend.
4. Coaches under pressure
It’s still early days but the pressure is building on the coaches of some of the sides struggling at the wrong end of the table.
Bottom of the table Leganes has just two points from five games to put coach Mauricio Pellegrino in the spotlight, while the lack of resistance that Alaves showed in their 2-0 defeat in Bilbao and their 3-0 thrashing in San Sebastian will see questions raised over Asier Garitano’s tactics ahead of their home match against Celta.
Finally, Espanyol has only one win all campaign and are in the relegation zone meaning that David Gallego is another man whose job could be in danger if his side fails to beat Valladolid on Sunday. Enditem