Content Editor at Free Super Tips, Alex was born in the shadow of Old Trafford and is an avid Man Utd fan. After graduating from university he combined his love of football, writing and betting to join FST and now closely follows goings-on in all of the top European leagues.
The way the fixtures have been arranged this season has ensured that the match-days proceeding European action see all of La Liga’s giants play on Saturday leaving a slightly lopsided feel to some weekends. This one is certainly another example of that with some really tasty fixtures this Saturday before a fairly unappealing set of games the following day.
With just two points currently separating the top six and most of the big sides struggling for results, the 2018/19 season has yet to really settle down or take on any notable pattern. Saturday’s action should give us a better idea of whether we really are set for one of the most open seasons in years or whether normal service will be resumed as soon as the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid find a bit of form.
Sevilla aim to show they are the real deal
The big game of the weekend sees the top two meet at Camp Nou. Barcelona will be aiming to regain top spot against a Sevilla side that has been flying of late. They’ve won their last four matches in La Liga, scoring 14 goals in the process. That run includes an easy 3-0 win over Real Madrid while they’ve a 75% away win ratio in La Liga so far this term, a significant improvement on recent years where their road results have often prevented them from seriously mixing it with the big three.
However they still have one or two hurdles to overcome before they can seriously start to be viewed as a side who could break up the top three monopoly this season, not to mention mount a genuine title challenge. A positive result result at Camp Nou would make a huge statement when it comes to that. Their record against Barcelona in recent years is terrible with just 1 victory in 22 games. They have an equally bad away record when it comes to visiting Camp Nou or the two Madrid giants, often ending up on the wrong end of one-sided scorelines.
Memories of the 5-0 battering they received at the hands of Barcelona in the Copa del Rey Final last season are still pretty fresh too. Pablo Machin has certainly improved matters considerably since then but this will be by far the biggest test yet for this Sevilla side.
Read more – The most open La Liga season in years?
Barcelona seeking first league win in 5 weeks
— Jayna Kliner (@JaynaRDaviskz) October 18, 2018
Barcelona have their own problems to worry about aside from trying to knock the wind out of Sevilla’s sail. They’ve gone 4 league games without a win for the first time in over two years and their style of play has drawn criticism from some fans. Their last two outings at Camp Nou have seen them held to draws by Girona and Athletic Bilbao and they will be very keen to get back to winning ways here at the start of a pivotal week in their season.
It’ll be fascinating to see if Ernesto Valverde opts to rotate his team again. He has done that in recent league matches and come unstuck and the team he selects will tell us a great deal about just how much respect he has for Sevilla. The Catalan giants don’t need to leave Barcelona this week but they do have some pretty illustrious visitors with Inter Milan in town on Wednesday before the first clasico of the season next weekend. Valverde will want to keep his players fresh for that one and has until now been prioritising the Champions League but the roles could just be reversed this week with 6 points already on the board in that competition and tough opponents in La Liga.
Read more – Barcelona vs Sevilla predictions
Can Los Blancos end their goal drought?
Real Madrid are also looking to stop an unwanted run as they aim to finally score a goal having gone over 400 minutes without one in all competitions. They host Levante at the Bernabeu on Saturday and some pretty serious questions will be asked if the rot doesn’t stop on Saturday and another goalless showing would signify the worst ever goalless streak in the long history of the club.
That’s not something Julen Lopetegui wants on his CV just a couple of months into the job but he does at least have some positive injury news heading into this one. Isco has been a notable absentee during this barren run and they will be grateful to have the Andalusian back in the fold to provide a bit of much needed creativity and imagination in the final third. Karim Benzema should be fit too while Gareth Bale remains a doubt but it’s a game that Real Madrid clearly should win regardless of who takes to the field.
Javi Calleja battling the axe at Villarreal
Javi Calleja has extended his contract at @Eng_Villarreal ✍
The rookie coach’s debut season was successful enough to earn another year at the helm.
— MARCA in English (@MARCAinENGLISH) May 20, 2018
If Julen Lopetegui is already feeling the heat, he has competition in the sack race from Javi Calleja at Villarreal. The Yellow Submarine have made a really poor start with just 8 points from 8 games, leaving them in the bottom six, rather than the top six where they feel as though they belong. A lack of talent isn’t really the issue with some significant additions over the summer months and it’s fair to say that the majority of the blame is being portioned to Calleja and perhaps rightly so.
Villarreal have looked like a team without a clear identity or way of playing this season and their home results have been disastrous. They’ve made five appearances at the Estadio de la Cerámica this term and are yet to win. It’s not even as though they’ve had particularly tough fixtures with Girona and Real Valladolid both winning there in La Liga while Steven Gerrard’s Rangers left with a point in the Europa League.
Atletico Madrid are clearly a cut above those sides but if Villarreal fail to get a result from the game, don’t be surprised if there is a new coach in charge of the Yellow Submarine, the next time they take to the field.
Read more – Villarreal vs Atletico Madrid predictions
Atleti aim to break Ceramica hoodoo
If there is a glimmer of hope for Villarreal, it comes in the shape of their excellent record against Atletico Madrid. No ground or opponent has brought Los Rojiblancos more misery over the past few years than Villarreal and the Estadio de la Cerámica. Atleti have lost on their last three visits and haven’t beaten the Yellow Submarine home or away in over three years.
The two sides have regularly cancelled each other out with defensive, low scoring matches the norm, more often than not edged by the side in yellow. Victory for Atletico Madrid would break the hoodoo to some extent and perhaps more importantly it would be the first real signal that they are a side that could make a very serious push for the title. Despite their form, Villarreal is still seen as one of the toughest trips would-be title challengers have to make in La Liga and it would be a significant three points if Atleti can get the win.
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