From Barcelona’s recovery to Carlos Bacca facing Vincenzo Montella, Football Espana brings you its five things to look out in La Liga this weekend…
1. All eyes on Barcelona
Having been on the receiving side of one of the Champions League’s greatest-ever comebacks midweek, throwing away a 4-1 lead in their quarter-final tie with Roma, the onus will now be on how Barcelona – no pun intended – turn it around. The Catalans won’t have the chance to ease themselves back into form as awaiting them at Camp Nou on Saturday are a Valencia side flying high in fourth, with five straight wins in the bag. Curiously, this is a repeat of only two seasons ago. Barca were knocked out by Atletico Madrid on that occasion – and went on to lose 2-1 at home to Los Che!
2. Bacca v Montella
Carlos Bacca and Vincenzo Montella fell out badly towards the end of their only season together at Milan, and the bad blood seems to be still fresh, with the striker appearing to congratulate the Rossoneri for sacking the Coach back in November. Fate just so happens to pit the two together this Saturday, when Sevilla and Villarreal get the weekend under way, and the Andalusians will hope Montella can mastermind a first win in six matches. The Yellow Submarine, on the other hand, will be looking to Bacca for goals, although the Colombian has only two in his last eight.
Dios tarde pero nunca olvida— carlos bacca (@carlos7bacca) November 27, 2017
3. No Costa, no party?
Atletico Madrid survived a scare against Sporting CP to set up a Europa League semi-final with Arsenal, but their chances of building momentum before the first leg in North London have been hampered by a hamstring injury to Diego Costa. The Spaniard will certainly miss Saturday’s Liga visit of Levante, whose run of five games without defeat under new boss Paco Lopez has seen them stave off the threat of relegation, and is likely to be replaced by the outgoing Fernando Torres. It’s shaping up to be a pivotal point in not only Atleti’s season but possibly their future, and a loss of form now could see Diego Simeone think twice about his new contract and Antoine Griezmann edge closer to the exit door.
4. Quique’s return – but for how long?
Quique Sanchez Flores missed Espanyol’s 1-0 defeat to Valencia last weekend due to a viral infection, but despite being back for Sunday’s trip to former club Getafe, it remains to be seen whether he will even see the season out at Cornella-El Prat. Sanchez Flores seemed certain to fill the Stoke City vacancy at the turn of the year, but just three wins in 2018, emphasised by two defeats in their last three, and a string of uninspiring performances, as seen by their paltry return of 26 goals, leaves RAC1 in no doubt that the Coach and club will part ways. However, the broadcaster warns the Catalans will have to sack the 53-year-old, given he has no intention to step down.
5. Win or bust for Seedorf
Clarence Seedorf finally won his first game as Deportivo La Coruna boss last time out, courtesy of a late 3-2 victory over Malaga, and Saturday’s match at Athletic Bilbao could see the Galicians move to within five points of safety if Levante lose to Atletico Madrid a day later. However, for all the Dutchman’s optimism, which has seen him constantly draw positives from their displays, the fact remains his win came against the League’s bottom team, who could be pronounced relegated as early as the middle of next week. A failure to beat Athletic – themselves in need of the points as they look to stage a late tilt for Europe – could pull the curtains on another Depor great escape.