New manager bounce?
Celta Vigo parted company with Fran Escriba last weekend – their limp defeat against Getafe was the final straw for the under-fire Coach. Celta wasted no time in finding a replacement, appointing Oscar Garcia less than 24 hours later. Leganes took almost two weeks to appoint Javier Aguirre following the departure of Mauricio Pellegrino, having reportedly been turned down by more than one Coach. Both sides will be hoping for the benefit of the new manager bounce this weekend and Leganes make the trip to the Anoeta on Friday night to face joint top-of-the-table Real Sociedad. Top at home against bottom sounds like a foregone conclusion, but La Real’s strength this season has been on their travels and they have lost twice already in San Sebastián. The start to Garcia’s Celta reign couldn’t get much tougher, with a trip back to where it all began for him as a player – the Camp Nou. The Coach’s respective baptisms may turn out to be more of a bump than a bounce.
To me, to you
This season’s La Liga has had several leaders already this season and last weekend team after team failed to take advantage of the door that had been left open for them by Barcelona’s defeat at Levante. Atleti and Real Madrid both drew, missing the chance to move into top spot on Saturday. Then, in the final game of the weekend, when a win for Granada at Estadio Nuevo Los Cármenes would have taken them back to the summit, a late goal from away specialists Real Sociedad meant that it was them who joined the big two level on points. An unlikely set of results this weekend could even see an out of sorts Atleti head to the front of the field. The game of pass the parcel looks set to continue.
Time up for Diego Costa?
Diego Costa has long had the trust of Diego Simeone, however many have begun to doubt the Argentinian’s judgement over the striker. He has netted just twice in over 1,000 minutes of La Liga football this season, one of those coming from the penalty spot, and has only seven goals in 41 La Liga games since his return to the club. Last time out against Sevilla he had a penalty saved and the previous game against Alaves, seconds after Costa’s substitution, Atleti scored their only goal. The former Spain international has been criticised for his lack of movement and not linking up as well with his fellow forwards; Koke, Alvaro Morata and Angel Correa. He still retains the trust of Simeone for now but his presence has coincided with a goal-shy start for Atleti who average just a goal a game.
Lucas Perez on a roll (again)
Lucas Perez at Alaves didn’t score in his first six games of the season but has now scored in a club record six games in a row to race up on the Pichichi leaders. Only eight Spanish players have scored in six or more consecutive games in La Liga in the past 35 years but Perez has made that list twice. He will be looking to make it seven in seven at Mendizorrotza Stadium against Real Valladolid and made ground on current Pichichi leaders Gerard Moreno (eight), Karim Benzema and Loren Moron (both seven) who were all involved in 0-0 draws.
El Gran Derbi
The Seville derby closes the La Liga weekend, with Real Betis hosting Sevilla at the Benito Villamarín. This once fearsome derby has been calmed of late by recent tragedies for both clubs. However, it is still characterised by passion and rivalry and is possibly the most authentic derby in Spain. Sevilla are seeking to break into the Champions League places by the end of the weekend and if results go their way, they could even wake up on Monday leading the way. Betis come into the game with momentum having beaten Celta Vigo and then achieved a stoic 0-0 draw in the Bernabeu last weekend. Frenetic, passionate and deafening, this is a game not to be missed with local pride at stake.
Twitter: Alex Fitzpatrick