Ibrahim El-Shawarby, Maydaa Abo El-Nadar
BILBAO, Feb.8 (SEE) – LaLiga Santander leaders Barcelona continue their historic relationship with Athletic Club in a weekend’s action which also features Real Madrid and Atletico de Madrid meeting in a second versus third placed Madrid derby encounter.
Barcelona travel to a resurgent Athletic Club side on Sunday evening in one of LaLiga’s most historic encounters and a particularly special match for blaugrana coach Ernesto Valverde who returns to the club he played for and twice coached.
By then Barça will know the result of Saturday afternoon’s Madrid derby at the Wanda Metropolitano. Atletico de Madrid and Real Madrid kick off separated by just two points in the table, but so much more than local pride is at stake, especially with Blancos goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and new rojiblanco striker Alvaro Morata facing their former sides.
The weekend’s action begins at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla on Friday evening with a six-pointer at the wrong end of the table. 15th placed Real Valladolid are looking over their shoulders after just one win in seven league games while 19th placed Villarreal are now nine LaLiga outings without a victory.
RC Celta picked up a badly-needed first three points of 2019 last weekend so should travel in good spirits for Saturday lunchtime’s visit to a Getafe team riding high in fifth spot and aiming for European competition next season.
18th placed Rayo Vallecano will also be looking to continue their recent good run on Saturday afternoon when they visit an Espanyol side now just two points ahead of them in the table.
Girona are another team looking to avoid being dragged into the relegation battle. The Catalans face a test in Saturday’s late game, as visitors Huesca may still be bottom but come into the game in high spirits after last weekend’s 4-0 win over Valladolid.
Sunday lunchtime sees 13th placed Leganes aiming to build on Monday’s South Madrid derby win over Rayo, with the visitors to Butarque a Real Betis team dreaming of Champions League football next season after last Sunday’s victory over Atletico.
Another side with Champions League aspirations are Valencia, who host Real Sociedad on Sunday afternoon. Los Che took further confidence from last weekend’s 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou but the Txuri-urdin will not fear anything after their Basque derby win over Athletic last time out.
After some up-and-down form recently Sevilla will be looking to tighten their hold on fourth spot with a win at the Sanchez-Pizjuán early on Sunday evening, though visitors Eibar will travel knowing they have taken six points and scored eight goals across their last three LaLiga games.
The action wraps up Monday evening with Alaves aiming for three points to steady things after a rough spell, while Levante come to Mendizorroza looking for a first victory on the road since October at the Santiago Bernabeu.