When the 2020/21 LaLiga Santander schedule was released, Matchday Five immediately stood out as one of the tastiest, with many of the big guns playing each other and a couple of fascinating derbies to look forward to.
SD Eibarwill get things rolling again this weekend, visiting Real Valladolid for a match with a few reunions. It’ll be a return to the José Zorrilla for current Eibar coach and former Blanquivioletas boss José Luis Mendilibar, a coach who’ll be fully aware of just how dangerous winger Fabián Orellana can be after the Chilean moved between the two sides this summer.
After that competitive-looking opener to the weekend, Atlético de Madrid will host Villarreal CF on Saturday afternoon. Each of the likely title challengers have tough fixtures this weekend and this is a prime example; Diego Simeone’s men failed to win this fixture last year, held to a 0-0 draw when the Yellow Submarine visited the Wanda Metropolitano. This time around, though, Atleti will feel extra confident since they now have the in-form Luis Suárez in their ranks.
Saturday evening sees two matches taking place simultaneously, with Real Sociedad hosting Getafe CF and Elche CF welcoming SD Huesca to the Martínez Valero. These are two fixtures with plenty of recent history as La Real and Getafe did battle for a Europa League place last season, a battle that was ultimately won by the Basques at the last gasp. Elche CF and SD Huesca, meanwhile, are both newly-promoted sides with a lot to prove in these early stages of the season.
Valencia CF and Real Betis will meet at Mestalla under the Saturday night lights for a fixture that should deliver goals. Over the past three seasons, these two sides have produced 25 goals in eight league and cup fixtures, an average of 3.1 goals per game. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the scoreboard is busy once again, especially considering these sides have already been involved in some goal fests this season: Valencia were on fire in front of goal in a 4-2 derby win over Levante UD while Betis took defending champions Real Madrid all the way before falling 3-2 in the closing stages.
CA Osasuna and RC Celta have also been amongst the goals this campaign and they’ll square off on Sunday lunchtime, at the newly redeveloped El Sadar. Osasuna lost the first game at their ground since its reopening and they’ll hope to re-establish its reputation as a fortress sooner rather than later.
Sunday afternoon also throws up a couple of derbies, so cue the Adrenalina PUMA football, a distinct, yellow-coloured ball used for high-profile matches this season with that extra injection of adrenaline. D. Alaves and Athletic Club play out a Basque derby at 2pm CEST, while Cadiz CF and Granada CF will meet in an Andalusian derby down south at 6.30pm CEST.
Also in action on Sunday evening are last season’s top two: Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. The champions are on the road away at Levante UD, where they fell last season 1-0 thanks to a thunderous long-rage strike from Levante captain and talisman Jose Luis Morales – and who has started the season in scintillating form. As they say in Spain, this is a potential partidotrampa – the term for a match that could turn out to be a banana skin for the favourites.
Rounding off the weekend’s action and sending LaLiga fans into the international break with their thirst for good football quenched will be Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona hosting Sevilla FC, a direct clash between two title challengers. This early-season clash between big guns will see Ivan Rakitić return to the Camp Noujust weeks after completing his transfer to Sevilla. He’ll be hoping to lead his new side to victory against his former club, but will also be well aware of the size of the task. The Andalusians have lost on each of their past 10 visits to the Camp Nou and have suffered time and time again at the hands of Lionel Messi. With 37 goals from 39 matches against Sevilla FC, no team has been on the end of his frightening goal scoring ability more than the Andalusians.