Everything is still in the airin LaLiga Santander right now, with just over one third of the season remaining. The title tussle is captivating, the race towards Europe is heating up and the fight to avoid relegation is as unpredictable as ever.
And this weekend’s action throws up several huge fixtures at all levels of the table.
The first match of the round takes place on Friday night when Elche CF host Rayo Vallecano. These are two teams moving in opposite directions; Elche have the joint-third-best record over the past six matches, while Rayo Vallecano have the fourth-worst record over the same time period. The capital city side won the meeting earlier in the season, but the Verdiblancos will be confident coming into this one.
Saturday starts off with two of the candidates for Champions League qualification playing on the road. Villarreal CF are first up and will look to keep up their good recent form when they visit Granada CF at the Nuevo Estadio de Los Cármenes, where they haven’t lost since 2014. Atlético de Madrid, meanwhile, pay a visit to CA Osasuna, with last year’s champions looking to end a run of five away LaLiga Santander matches without a victory.
Cádiz CF vs Getafe CF is next up, with this relegation six-pointer particularly intriguing. Geta won 4-0 when they hosted the Andalusian side earlier this season but know that it’ll be trickier on the road. Still, Cádiz haven’t won a home game yet this season. This weekend would be a good time for them to earn that first victory in front of their own fans.
Real Madrid fans will then welcome their team back to the Santiago Bernabéu on Saturday night for a home match against D. Alavés. Real Madrid ran out 4-1 winners in the Basque Country when these sides met on the opening weekend of the season. That kickstarted Los Blancos’ charge to the top of the table and they’ll look for another three points in order to maintain their lead over second-placed Sevilla.
It’s the title challengers who then feature in the first of Sunday’s fixtures, when RCD Espanyol host Sevilla FC at the RCDE Stadium. This won’t be an easy trip for JulenLopetegui’s side, especially as they have a significant list of absentees, but this is the kind of difficult match that championship teams need to win.
A classic fixture of Spanish football is up next, at 16:15 CET on Sunday, as Valencia CF take on FC Barcelona at Mestalla. Of Barça’sfour most recent league visits there, they’ve only won one of them, which was last year when there were no supporters in the stands. This weekend the fans will be back to cheer on Los Che, while they’ll also see former academy graduate Ferran Torres return to Mestalla for the first time since leaving in 2020. In turn, Valencia’s new winter loan signing Ilaix Moriba will be facing the side he left just last summer.
Real Betis are next up on Sunday as the third-placed outfit look to keep up their dream of Champions League qualification. They’ll come into this game after a Thursday night Europa League trip to Russia, so may need to lean on their squad depth when they host an RCD Mallorca side that has rediscovered some form.
Then, at 9pm CET on Sunday night, it’s the Basque derby between Athletic Club and Real Sociedad. This will be the first time since August 2019 that these two sides meet in Bilbao with fans allowed in the stands, so a special atmosphere should be expected. Athletic Club will also hope to end a five-match winless run in this derby, knowing that European qualification could be possible if they do.La Real have form in this encounter, though; they’ve won two of the last three derbies at San Mames.
RC Celta vs Levante UD then concludes the matchday on Monday night, with the Galician side hopeful of entering the race for European qualification too. Against the bottom-placed team in the division, Eduardo Coudet will expect his charges to keep up their recent winning run at home. They’ve won three in a row at the Abanca-Balaídos and will hope to make it four in the final fixture of Matchday 25.