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La Liga Week Three Preview: Can Sevilla Make It Three In A Row?

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A big matchday two in La Liga saw Sevilla and Atletico Madrid move clear of the chasing pack, while Real Madrid dropped points at home to Valladolid.

Barcelona bounced back from an opening-day defeat to smash five past Real Betis, while Leganes made it two losses from two to compound their poor start to the campaign.

This weekend, there are plenty of mouthwatering ties to look forward to… so it’s time for to take you through every fixture in matchday three.

Friday

Sevilla vs Celta Vigo – 7pm

The weekend’s action kicks off with the in-form team in the division hosting Celta Vigo. Under their new manager – former Spain and Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui – Sevilla have started brilliantly with two wins from two.

He needed it, too, after his reputation took a big hit at the Bernabeu. Sevilla are yet to concede a goal in the league this season, and Celta Vigo are without an away win in their last 12 La Liga matches, so expect the home side to romp to victory.

Celta, though, did manage a victory last time out, beating Valencia by a goal to nil. They’ll need new signing Denis Suarez and club legend Iago Aspas to be on top form if they want to get anything at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium, though.

Athletic Bilbao vs Real Sociedad

It is still early in the season, but already we have a huge derby to look forward to. Basque rivals Bilbao and Sociedad have both enjoyed impressive starts to the campaign, winning one and drawing one.

They head into tonight’s game full of confidence and knowing that a victory can take them – albeit perhaps temporarily – top of the La Liga table going into the weekend.

Their rivalry is not a hostile one, and fans will mix happily in the stands while watching the game – but with both sides desperate to secure some European football come the end of the season, the result is an important one.

Saturday

Osasuna vs Barcelona

There was some bad news for Barca this week after it emerged that Lionel Messi is still sidelined with a calf injury, with no date yet pencilled in for his return. He was initially set to be back in the side this week, but is now going to miss the trip to Pamplona.

With that in mind, it is once again all eyes on Antoine Griezmann as he looks to add to the two goals he scored in the five-goal drubbing of Betis last week. You’d expect the champions to win this one too, despite Osasuna’s decent start to life in the top tier.

Following their promotion last season, the underdogs beat struggling Leganes in their opener, but were held at home to Eibar last time out. If they can record a scalp against Barcelona, it will go down as one of the biggest results in their history.

Without Messi on the opposing team, though, they may never get a better chance.

Getafe vs Alaves

The onus is on Getafe to take the game to Alaves on Saturday night, as they look to continue last season’s dream campaign into this one. They’ve started with a draw and a defeat in their opening two, but in fairness the loss did come against Atletico Madrid.

Alaves, meanwhile, tipped to be scrapping for their lives come May, are unbeaten in their first two after beating Levante and drawing with Espanyol. This is their first real test, although goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco has proven himself to be adept in the opening fixtures.

Enric Gallego, meanwhile, is still looking for his first La Liga goal after signing for Getafe from Huesca in the summer. Marc Cucurella is another player to watch, on loan from Barcelona and tipped for a big future in Spanish football.

Levante vs Real Valladolid

It’s been an impressive start to the season for the visitors in this one, after their 1-1 draw away at Real Madrid last weekend. On the opening day, they beat Real Betis away from home, and the smart money is on them continuing their fine form away at Levante on Saturday evening.

The home side, meanwhile, have been heavily tipped for relegation this season, so it was a little surprising to see them run out 2-1 winners over Villarreal last time out.

If they are to secure a similar result this week, they’ll be heavily reliant on Roger Marti, their star forward who’s netted twice already this season. He did, of course, enjoy two previous impressive loan spells at Valladolid, so don’t expect a wild celebration if he does net against his old side.

Real Betis vs Leganes

A vital match for both teams, as they sit 19th and 20th in the La Liga table after their first two games – the only sides in the league without a single point.

Betis have already shipped seven goals in their first two La Liga games, although given the most recent was against Barcelona at the Nou Camp, it is hard to pour too much scorn on their performance.

Expect to see Nabil Fekir and Co desperate to get off the mark after their humbling last week though, and this should be a fairly routine home win.

Also, watch out for Leganes’ Youssef En-Nesyri. He came very close to an £18million move to Brighton this summer, but it was blocked at the last moment, leaving him furious. He’s back in the Leganes team, but will surely still be harbouring some resentment against a hierarchy he claimed ‘care too much about money’.

Sunday

Valencia vs Real Mallorca

After coming through the Segunda play-offs at the start of the summer, it is almost certainly going to be a difficult season for La Liga new boys Mallorca. They got off to a flyer on week one, but bumped back down to earth last week, conceding a late goal to lose against Real Sociedad.

This week brings their toughest test so far, against a Valencia team without a victory so far this season. After a draw against Sociedad and a defeat by Celta Viga, they host the Balearic boys at the Mestalla desperate for some meaningful points.

Dani Parejo and new signing Maxi Gomez are likely to be key, while goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen will be in goal again after completing his £16m summer move from Barcelona.

Atletico Madrid vs Eibar

The in-form team in the division are Atletico Madrid, and that’s perhaps unsurprising given the huge amount of money they spent to replace the likes of Antoine Griezmann this summer.

Joao Felix was the marquee name, arriving for £113m, and he’s helped them to back-to-back victories to begin the campaign. It would be a huge surprise if they don’t make it three from three against an Eibar team with a draw and a loss behind them.

They lost to Mallorca on the opening day, then failed to score in a goalless draw at Osasuna… and Sunday will be their third straight away game of the season. They may well be desperate to go home after 90 minutes at the Wanda this weekend.

Espanyol vs Granada

After a Thursday night trip to Ukraine to face Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League, there may well be a little hangover for the Espanyol players. That said, a 2-2 draw did secure them a place in the group stages, so they’ll be delighted with that.

Granada have a draw and a defeat from two tough opening fixtures – one of which was the game of the season so far in a 4-4 draw at Villarreal in gameweek one.

The away side are likely to be battling relegation at the back end of the season, but now is a good time to face Espanyol so this is a very tough one to call.

Villarreal vs Real Madrid

The final game of the weekend, and the only televised fixture in the UK. 8pm on Sunday night sees Real Madrid at Villarreal, attempting to bounce back from a very disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Valladolid last weekend.

Villarreal, meanwhile, also have a lot to prove after a draw and a defeat in their opening games… but all the smart money will be on Zinedine Zidane’s men.

Not many expected Gareth Bale to be playing for Los Blancos this season, but despite a frantic summer, he’s started both of his side’s games and will be desperate to play at one of his happiest hunting grounds this weekend.

The Welshman made his Real Madrid debut at Villarreal’s Estadio de la Ceramica, and has netted six times in his six appearances against them. Don’t be surprised if he nets a couple more this weekend.