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La Liga Weekend Preview: Atletico Madrid Host Barcelona In Crunch Clash

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The race for LaLiga looks set for several twists and turns this weekend as Atletico Madrid host Barcelona on Sunday night.

That clash will give Real Madrid and Sevilla, who are in action on early on Saturday and Sunday, the chance to take top spot before leaders Barca kick-off.

Elsewhere, there is a Basque derby between Real Sociedad and Eibar and a ‘hidden derby’ to look forward to as Valencia host Villarreal on Saturday evening.

Barcelona v Atletico Madrid

Barcelona face a serious test of their title credentials on Sunday evening when they take on Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano.

The Catalans travel to Madrid having booked their place in the knockout stages of the Champions League following victory over Borussia Dortmund in midweek.

But, despite sitting top of LaLiga on goal difference ahead of Real Madrid, Barca’s defence has been unconvincing, having shipped 16 goals in 13 games.

Sunday’s encounter will see Antoine Griezmann return to Atletico for the first time since his controversial summer move to Barca – and he heads there with a point to prove.

Griezmann has endured a disappointing start to life at the Nou Camp, which has seen him score just five goals in 17 games this term.

Should Barca drop points, Real Madrid or Sevilla are likely to take top spot, while victory for Atletico, who are three points adrift of the Catalans, will propel them firmly back into title contention.

Alaves v Real Madrid

Just goal difference separates second-placed Real Madrid and leaders Barcelona at the top of LaLiga, but that could all change this weekend.

With Barca not in action until Sunday, Zinedine Zidane’s side have the chance to leapfrog their arch-rivals at the top of the table.

But that is no foregone conclusion; Madrid were beaten 1-0 at Mendizorrotza last season, while Alaves have scored five goals and conceded none in their last two outings.

Madrid were also in Champions League action this week, as they threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Paris Saint-Germain, and Zidane will hope to see a more complete performance from his side this weekend.

Madrid are likely to be without Eden Hazard, who was substituted with 20 minutes remaining after sustaining a dead leg.

Zidane’s side have been in impressive form in LaLiga of late, having beaten Real Sociedad 3-1 and Eibar 4-0 in recent weeks.

Valencia v Villarreal

This clash is often labelled as the ‘hidden derby’, as two sides from Spain’s eastern Costa Blanca meet.

Last season, Valencia ran out convincing 3-0 winners at the Mestalla, though Villarreal had won on their three previous visits to Valencia.

The two sides have had remarkably similar seasons to date; Valencia currently occupy 10th place going into the game, two points ahead of Villarreal in 12th.

Villarreal will hope Valencia’s Champions League exertions will give them an advantage after they played out a 2-2 draw with Chelsea on Wednesday night.

That game came on the back of a disappointing 2-1 defeat by Real Betis last weekend, while Villarreal were beaten 3-1 by Celta Vigo.

Sevilla v Leganes

Julen Lopetegui and Sevilla are riding high in LaLiga and could be top of the table by the end of the weekend’s action.

Lopetegui took charge of Sevilla after being sacked by Spain and Real Madrid in the space of six months in 2018 but is rebuilding his reputation at Sevilla.

The club are third in LaLiga, just a point behind joint-leaders Barcelona and Madrid, though they have played a game more than their title rivals.

But should they beat Leganes on Sunday, Sevilla could briefly take top spot, if Madrid fail to beat Alaves on Saturday.

Sevilla appear near certainties to continue their fine run of form, which has seen them win three of their last five games, against lowly Leganes.

Leganes are rooted to the bottom of LaLiga having won just one match all season and taken just six points from their opening 14 games.

Other Matches

Elsewhere in LaLiga, in-form Athletic Bilbao will look to continue their top four push on Sunday afternoon when they welcome a Granada team stumbling after a strong start. However, the Andalusians have an excellent historical record at San Mames.

Espanyol, who are down in 19th place, will see an opportunity to kick-start their season on Sunday at home to Osasuna, whose 31-game unbeaten record at El Sadar was ended last weekend by neighbours Bilbao.

Getafe and Levante are sitting pretty in the top half of the table thanks to near identical records over the first 14 games of the season and the two sides meet at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez at 5:30pm on Sunday.