Five things to watch in La Liga this weekend

Deadlock at the top

Following the last four gameweeks, Barcelona and Real Madrid have been locked on points at the top of the table. With both rivals having very winnable home games, the pair both go into this weekend’s fixtures knowing that nothing but a victory will do. Barca are unbeaten at the Camp Nou in 18 league games and have won all but one of those games. Those statistics offer little hope to Real Mallorca on Saturday evening – the side without a point away from home this season. Meanwhile, Los Blancos will look to set the pace earlier in the day by dispatching Espanyol, currently languishing in 19th position. However, Los Periquitos have been better away from the RCDE Stadium. Last weekend they managed to break their goal drought by scoring two goals in one game for only the second time this season. However, famine turned to feast for the opposition forwards too as Espanyol conceded four in defeat to Osasuna.

Lopetegui grinding it out

Just one game after setting a new club record, Osasuna’s 31-game unbeaten record at El Sadar fell against Athletic Club. Los Rojillos will look to rebuild their fortress in the toughest of circumstances against Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla. Sitting in third, the Andalusian club have the best away record in La Liga this season and have snuck themselves into third spot in the league through a grinding consistency that Diego Simeone would be proud of. Seven of Sevilla’s nine La Liga victories this season have come by just one goal and Lopetegui will look to give Osasuna a second taste of defeat in successive home games at El Sadar.   

The quiet rise of the set piece kings

Whilst the early season chatter has been about Sevilla, Real Sociedad, and Athletic Club’s assault on the top four, going quietly about their business has been Getafe. Last season they missed out on fourth position on the final day and this year began slowly but José Bordalás’ team are now on the charge. They are unbeaten in five games and have just one defeat in eight. All four of their goals in last week’s 4-0 victory over Levante came from set pieces and they open Sunday’s La Liga action away to Eibar. Los Armeros are another side who like to rain in the crosses and the central defenders of both teams may leave the Ipurua with sore heads on Sunday lunchtime.

From baptism of fire to basement battle

It has been three games since Javier Aguirre joined Leganes and the Mexican has had a tough start to his reign at Butarque, facing three of the top four (Real Sociedad, Barcelona and Sevilla) in his opening three games in charge. Despite the tough start, his side have taken one point and lost by just one goal in the other two fixtures, even leading Barcelona at one stage. Sunday presents his best chance yet of picking up his first win as Los Pepineros face fellow strugglers Celta Vigo at home. However, Celta manager Oscar Garcia has also started his reign positively with the side from Galicia picking up four points in his three games in charge.

The slowly sinking Yellow Submarine

La Liga opens on Friday night with a clash between two clubs whose seasons are slowly sinking. Villarreal were on the verge of the Champions League places but after just one point in five games are now in the bottom half and only five points off the relegation zone. They face another underachieving side in Atletico Madrid who are clinging on to a European spot in sixth position. Diego Simeone will be seething at the fact that his side are five games without a clean sheet. This game could be sink or swim for both sides.  

Twitter: Alex Fitzpatrick

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