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La Liga Midweek Preview: Tough Tests For Both Real Madrid And Barcelona

CR7RonaldoIt’s a rare midweek slate of games in La Liga this week with the headline match being Los Blancos daunting trip to take on Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday.

Rafa Benitez’s side Madrid struggled to beat Granada 1-0 at the weekend and owed the victory to a string of saves from Keylor Navas as he stretched his unbeaten streak to five games. The Costa Rica international is now within 10 minutes of breaking Iker Casillas’s club record for the longest start to a campaign without conceding a goal.

Madrid will again be without Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and Danilo through injury, whilst Sergio Ramos is a major doubt due to a dislocated shoulder.

Athletic have proven their ability to perform on the big occasion as they beat Barcelona 5-1 on aggregate to win the Spanish Super Cup at the start of the campaign and also beat Madrid at home last season. However, they have taken just three points from their opening four league games as a side shorn of the rested Raul Garcia and Aritz Aduriz were beaten 3-1 by Villarreal on Sunday.

League leaders Barcelona also face a tough task to maintain their perfect start to the campaign when they travel to unbeaten Celta Vigo on Wednesday. Barcelona will be back close to full strength as Gerard Pique is available for the first time in La Liga this season after serving a four-game ban, whilst Andres Iniesta and Luis Suarez will return after being rested for Sunday’s 4-1 win over Levante. However, they will face a Celta side full of confidence after a 2-1 win away at Sevilla moved them up to fourth.

Atletico Madrid could move to the top of the table for 24 hours at least when they host Getafe in a Madrid derby at the Vicente Calderon on Tuesday. Los Rojiblancos showed their strength in depth as Fernando Torres and Angel Correa came off the bench to hand them a 2-0 win at Eibar on Saturday.

David Moyes also faces a crucial match that could define his future at Real Sociedad when the Basques travel to Granada on Tuesday. Sociedad have taken just two points from their opening four games with discontent towards the former Manchester United manager heightened by Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at home to Espanyol.

Spanish La Liga fixtures

Atletico Madrid v Getafe, Espanyol v Valencia, Granada v Real Sociedad

Celta Vigo v Barcelona, Levante v Eibar, Rayo Vallecano v Sporting Gijon, Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid, Las Palmas v Sevilla, Malaga v Villarreal

Real Betis v Deportivo La Coruna