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Friday December 13 2019
Five things to watch in La Liga this weekend

Ahead of a fascinating round of La Liga, Alex Fitzpatrick analyses if Real Madrid and Barcelona can negotiate tough away trips ahead of midweek El Clasico.

Deadlock ahead of El Clasico

With neither side blinking, Barcelona and Real Madrid have been in deadlock at the end of each of the last five game weeks. This weekend is the final set of fixtures before the rescheduled El Clasico which takes place in the Camp Nou on Wednesday evening. Whether they will still be in deadlock at the end of this weekend remains to be seen though as both teams have tricky away fixtures. All three of Barca’s defeats this season have come on their travels and the Anoeta will be no easy destination with Real Sociedad currently sat in fourth in the table. Los Blancos make the trip to the Mestalla to face the rapidly improving Valencia. Albert Celades has got his side firing - defeated just once in the last six games and still unbeaten at Mestalla in La Liga this season.   

Don’t look down

Having lost one crunch six-pointer last weekend, Celta Vigo boss Oscar Garcia will be looking to the game against Real Mallorca on Sunday to catapult them up the table and out of the relegation zone. With just one point and one place separating the two sides, neither can afford a defeat. For Los Bermelliones, their travel sickness has been a feature of their last two seasons. They will take some heart though from a spirited performance in the Camp Nou last weekend in which they scored twice, almost doubling their away goals tally for the season. In Celta’s eight home games this season, there has only been more than two goals in one of them, expect this to be a cagey affair.

Tis the season...

In the season to be jolly there are a few teams who are currently affording far too much goodwill to all men. Villarreal (six games), Real Valladolid (four), Espanyol (six) and Eibar (four) are all on winless runs. The task will not get any easier this weekend for any of those teams with three facing away trips to sides sat in the European spots. The fourth, Espanyol, are at home where they are yet to win this season against a rampant Real Betis who have awoken from their early season slumber to record three wins in a row.

The Zarra Award

Despite giving his rivals a seven-game head start, Lionel Messi’s hat-trick against Mallorca last weekend saw the six-time Ballon D’or winner rise to the top of the goalscoring charts in the Pichichi race. With that as good as over before it began, the real race is for the Zarra award that recognises the highest Spanish goalscorer in La Liga. Gerard Moreno (Villarreal), Lucas Perez (Deportivo Alaves) and Loren Moron (Real Betis) are all tied on eight goals. As the yellow submarine have sunk, Gerard has gone soggy and he is without a goal in five games. Loren Moron has also been goal shy of late having netted the majority of his eight during Betis’ difficult early season spell. However, Lucas Perez continues his incredible run with his eight goals coming in the last ten games. An outside bet for the award is Ángel Rodríguez who is one goal behind on seven. Five of his seven goals for Getafe have come from the bench as they make another assault on the Champions League spots this season.

Transition or Turmoil?

The word ‘transition’ is one being used in spades to describe the season of Atletico Madrid so far this year having sold Rodri, Lucas Hernandez and Antoine Greizmann during the close season. João Félix has yet to hit the ground running with only two goals and one assist this season and Atleti have only two wins in ten games. However, compare the job done by Julen Lopetegui at third-placed Sevilla who brought in 12 players for total fees of over €160m in the summer to the progress of Diego Simeone’s side and you would be forgiven for thinking that perhaps there is a bigger issue afoot. Atleti are in danger of disconnecting from the fight for a Champions League spot unless they get a win soon. Just when they need an easy home fixture at the Wanda, along come Osasuna and Chimmy Avila who will give Cholo’s men a torrid time throughout. The side from Pamplona can go level on points with Atleti should they win in the capital. 

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