So heading into the this weekend’s games what are the big questions? Certainly at least one of the 5 teams currently holding a 100% record won’t make it to 9 points come Monday morning, owing to R. Madrid’s fixture with Ath. Bilbao. But who out of the 5 will capitulate first? Gareth Bale may be sashaying around Madrid in all but tiny, lurid pink shorts but will it be as a Real Madrid or a Tottenham player? Will captain Casillas get a game? Will Djukic’s stinging attack on his hapless Valencia team spark the right sort of reaction? Anyway it’s only Barca this week boys, so no pressure!
What we do know however and talking of the Catalan giants, is that Barcelona have won their first silverware of the season. What’s more is that they didn’t even need to win a game to do it. That’s class for you. Also we know that the fixture computer threw out a few beauties for this weekend. Here’s what we’ve got to look forward to:
Almeria v Elche
Rayo v Levante
Celta v Granada
Valladolid v Gefate
Osasuna v Villarreal
R. Madrid v Ath. Bilbao
Espanyol v Betis
R. Sociedad v At. Madrid
Sevilla v Malaga
Valencia v Barcelona
Although the action kicks off on Friday night the real picks of the weekend’s matches are all played on Sunday.
Having said that there should be some decent action on Friday night as Almeria take on Elche in the battle of the promoted sides. Both sides have shown gusto already in their performances this season and have been unlucky not to have secured more than the point apiece they hold going into Friday’s game. Last season this was a Segunda Division fixture where Elche came out on top, on their march to the title.
On Saturday the other promoted side, Villarreal will attempt to extend their 100% start to the season as they travel to the Basque country. Their hosts Osasuna will conversely be looking to end their own 100% record, after a pointless opening two games of the season. The men from El Sadar did have bright spells in the Basque derby last week against Athletic, however after letting in 4 goals already and scoring only 1, the areas for improvement are there to see for Mendilibar’s men. The Yellow Submarine have had a great start to the season with a late show at unlucky Almeria and again coming from behind against Real Valladolid to win with a fine Cani strike.
The big guns come out on Sunday. 6 point Real Madrid kick it all off in the early game against fellow 100%ers Athletic Club. It may be an opportune time to catch the Madrid team who have yet to hit their stride and with the unfinished Bale-a-thon transfer saga, the apparent stroppiness of Ozil, Kaka seemingly wanting a move away and with captain Casillas continuing to warm the bench, Ancelloti’s men are not as settled a side as they might be. Athletic won’t rely on off pitch matters to help them though and should be in confident mood at the Bernebau despite their recent record against La Real where Los Blancos have put no less than 18 goals past them in the last 5 meetings. This should be a tighter affair.
In San Sebastien Real Sociedad take on Atleti in what is an intriguing match up. Sociedad are coming off the back of securing a berth in the Champions League group stages after an unexpectedly comprehensive triumph over Lyon and in Carlos Vela they have a man in fine goal scoring form. This week’s CL qualifier seemed to be occupying the minds of the La Real players last week at Elche. This week they will need to be more focused. Atletico can be a bit like steamroller when they get going as Rayo found last week and seemingly have goals from all over the pitch. Simeone’s men are also adept on the counter, flooding forward to support the front men, allowing them to be potent home or away. This game has the potential to be the game of the weekend.
Sevilla were no doubt hoping that the Thursday trip to Poland would be an easy one. As it was Slask Wroclaw were very obliging, allowing their Andalucian visitors to add 5 goals to the 4 they scored in Seville as Sevilla cruised through the tie. Just as well as they have several injuries to contend with and lost some important players during the summer. However Stephane Mbia who can play in central defense or his more usual defensive midfield, this week decided to swap the English Championship for Seville and La Liga and may be called upon straight away. With three central defenders out Emery went with a central pairing of Navarro and Cala on Thursday but may change this for Malaga’s visit. Bernd Schuster’s men can feel agrieved by their result last week against Barcelona. In fact it took a goal keeping error from Willy Caballero who, in an otherwise fine performance, should have done better with Adriano’s strike. That was the pivotal moment of the match. However one thing is for certain, whereas Los Boquerones may not provide the thrills and excitement this year they will prove to be difficult to beat.
After a stuttering performance last time out Barcelona travel to the Mestalla in a more settled position than there El Clasico rivals. Neymar has had his first start and Busquets this week penned a new long term contract. However despite their wealth of talent Martino’s men are yet to hit their straps and the Catalan team won the Supercopa without having to be the better side over the 2 legs. Victor Valdes’ man of the match status on Wednesday night betrays Barca’s misfiring team. Valdes’ saves from Arda Turan and Barca old boy Villa were highlights for the keeper. Whilst Roberto Soldado was netting a penalty to win his new club Tottenham’s home game last Saturday, Valencia’s ears were stinging from Djukic’s comments after their performance at Espanyol. Los Che still have the class to create openings and dictate play and in Helder Postiga have a decent finisher up top, whether they can afford the loss of Soldado’s goals however, is yet to be seen.