The September international break is in the rearview mirror and there are several busy weeks of club football ahead between now and the World Cup, starting with Matchday 7 of LaLiga Santander this weekend.
The 2022/23 title race promises to be very tight and the top three of Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Real Betis each have tricky tests coming up this matchday. Meanwhile, Sevilla FC and Atlético de Madrid face off against each other as they look to propel themselves back towards the top.
It should be a fascinating weekend and it begins in Bilbao on Friday night as Athletic Club host UD Almería. Having won four of their past five games, Athletic Club are flying under Ernesto Valverde and the fans will fill up San Mamés once more, excited to see their front four of Álex Berenguer, Iker Muniain, Nico Williams and Iñaki Williams take on the newly promoted side.
Saturday begins with one of the rarest sights in Spanish football, which is when Villarreal CF play in their second kit. The team from Castellón can almost always wear their famous yellow colours, but not when they visit Cádiz CF for the battle of The Yellows. It could be a tough game for Unai Emery’s side, as Cádiz CF will be high on confidence after earning their first win of the season just before the international break.
Getafe CF vs Real Valladolid follows at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez, which will be a duel between two sides looking to pull clear from the threat of relegation. Then, two other teams looking to climb away from the lower part of the table will meet when Sevilla FC take on Atlético de Madrid. These two heavyweights have had slow starts to the season and desperately need the three points on offer, so a thrilling end-to-end battle should be expected at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, where Atleti haven’t won since 2017/18.
On Saturday night, second-placed FC Barcelona are back in action and will be able to sleep as leaders if they defeat RCD Mallorca away from home. That’s much easier said than done, though, as RCD Mallorca’s back five have taken three clean sheets from six matches this season. Plus, Barça have their own defensive concerns, having lost Jules Koundé and Ronald Araújo to injury.
It’ll be interesting to see what solutions Xavi comes up with on the island. Sunday’s slate of fixtures starts off with a duel of new coaches, as Diego Martínez’s RCD Espanyol welcome Gennaro Gattuso’s Valencia CF to Catalonia. This won’t be the first meeting of these tacticians, as Martínez’s Granada CF side eliminated the Italian and Napoli during their 2020/21 Europa League run. But Gattuso comes into this weekend’s clash in a stronger position, while RCD
Espanyol have had a poor start to 2022/23. Tactically, this could be a very interesting match-up at the RCDE Stadium.
Real Betis and Real Sociedad both qualified for the Europa League last season and have started this new campaign well too, but they each have complicated away fixtures on Sunday afternoon as Los Verdiblancos visit RC Celta and as La Real make the trip to Girona FC. These are two difficult grounds to go to and two complicated opponents, so the Andalusian and Basque sides will have to be at their best if they’re to collect victories.
League leaders Real Madrid then return to the Bernabéu on Sunday night to take on CA Osasuna, a match that should be a much trickier test than might have been expected at the start of the season.
That’s because the team from Pamplona have been brilliant to begin the new term. They sit fifth with 12 points from six matches and they earned a 0-0 draw in this fixture when they visited the capital last season. With the CA Osasuna defence in great form, this could be a complicated challenge for a Real Madrid team that expect to welcome Karim Benzema back from injury.
There is also LaLiga Santander action on Monday night, also in the Spanish capital as Rayo Vallecano take on Elche CF. The visitors now find themselves bottom of the table, so coach Francisco knows he needs a positive result in Vallecas. He and his players will do all they can to achieve it in this final fixture of Matchday 7.