Friday Night Football Under The Lights
The La Liga Santander weekend begins on Friday night in Bilbao, where Athletic Club take on Getafe CF at San Mamés. Geta still haven’t won an away league game all season, despite being a competitive week in week out under Quique Sánchez Flores, but they’ll travel north believing that they can finally collect a win on the road.
The action stays in the Basque Country, with Deportivo Alavés vs Granada on Saturday. This is one of the most important fixtures remaining in the relegation battle, with the home side currently 19th on 22 points and the Andalusian club in 17th on 25 points.
Both teams are where they are because of poor recent form, with Alavés having won just one of their last 10 league games, while their opponents have failed to win any of their last 10. The stakes could hardly be higher.
Valencian War returns to Valero
Next up comes a regional rivalry match in the Valencian Community, with Valencia CF making the short trip to take on Elche CF For the home fans at the Estadio Manuel Martínez Valero.
This is one of the most exciting fixtures of the season and it’ll be Los Che’s first visit there with fans in the stands since 2015.
It’s CA Osasuna vs Levante UD next, as the bottom-placed side travels to Pamplona still believing they can pull off a great escape, before another regional rivalry match on Saturday night when Rayo Vallecano take on Atlético de Madrid in Vallecas.
Atleti come into this fixture on a high after qualifying for the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday, but their ticket to that continental tournament is far from secured for next year and they’ll battle for the three points just eight kilometres away from their home ground.
El Clasico heralds Super Sunday
There are five fixtures on Sunday, starting with RCD Espanyol vs RCD Mallorca. These are the two teams who secured automatic promotion last LaLiga SmartBank season, with the Catalan club finishing first and winning the title, while they also met in this year’s Copa del Rey, with the islanders winning on that occasion. They’ve had many interesting battles over the past few years and another should be expected here.
There are two 4.15 pm games on Sunday, Cádiz CF against Samuel Chukwueze‘s Villarreal CF is one of them, as the two Amarillos meet in Andalusia, where Cádiz finally earned their first home win of the season last time out.
The other game at that time is RC Celta vs Real Betis, a tricky trip north for Manuel Pellegrini’s side and even more so because Nabil Fekir will miss out with suspension. Later, in the 6.30 pm slot, Sevilla FC have a difficult fixture too as they host Real Sociedad, who are improving and are now into sixth place.
At 9 pm, the whole world will be watching Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabéu. It’ll be the first time that ElClasico is held at this stadium since March 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic, when Los Blancos won 2-0.
That kickstarted their current run of five consecutive ElClasico wins across all competitions, the most recent coming in the Spanish Super Cup semi-final in January.
FC Barcelona are improving, though, and Xavi’s side is in great goalscoring form with 14 goals scored across their past four LaLiga Santander matches. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has netted five of those goals, so the January signing is a man Real Madrid’s defence will have to be wary of.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid are on a five-match win streak across all competitions, with Karim Benzema having netted eight goals across those five games.
He’ll be the obvious threat whenever Los Blancos attack if he can shake off an injury suffered in the last game.
It promises to be a fascinating El Clasico, so fans around the world will want to tune in to this fixture that never disappoints.