La Liga Preview
After a break of three months, La Liga will resume this week with all eyes on the race for the title between Barcelona and Real Madrid.
After Madrid’s El Classico victory over Barcelona, the Catalan club’s lead at the top of the table has been cut to only two points.
It isn’t just at the top of the table that remains interesting, there is plenty of interest in the battle for Champions League qualification, with just five points separating third placed Sevilla and seventh placed side Valencia.
At the bottom Espanyol, Leganes and Mallorca are separated by just five points with Celta Vigo and Eibar perilously close to danger.
The action resumes behind closed doors on Thursday when Sevilla entertain Real Betis.
Before the break Sevilla had picked up a useful point at Atletico Madrid with Real Betis gaining a well-deserved home win against Real Madrid.
Real Betis have certainly struggled on the road this season, picking up just a single victory on their travels.
The hosts will be without Nemanja Gudelj who is currently serving a one match suspension, whilst Betis continue to be without Juan Lopez who is expected back in action shortly.
On Friday Getafe travel to ninth placed Granada.
Getafe certainly enjoy playing away, having picked up 21 points so far on the road. Before the break both sides picked up a point apiece and both teams have two victories out of their last five games played.
Granada could well be without as many as five regular players for Friday nights game with Antonio Puertas serving a one game ban and Angel Montoro doubtful alongside long-term absentees Alex Martinez, Quini and Neyder Lozano.
The visitors will be missing a trio of players due to suspension. Nemanja Maksimovic, Jaime Mata and Mauro Arambarri all are serving a one game ban with Filip Manojlovic out with a back injury.
Also, on Friday Valencia host Levante at the Mestalla Stadium.
Valencia will be looking to get back to winning ways again after just one win in their last five games- a 2-1 victory over Betis, whilst Levante will be hoping to improve their dismal away record which currently stands at 11 losses on the road.
In the previous five meetings between the sides Levante have still yet to take a point of Valencia.
The hosts will be without Geoffrey Kondogbia due to suspension with Ezequiel Garay sidelined with a knee injury. For the visitors Ivan Lopez will miss the match due to a knee problem.
Four matches are scheduled for Saturday, with the action commencing with basement club Espanyol entertaining Alaves.
The hosts, who have managed just a single victory at their headquarters this season are up against 14th placed Alaves who have won just twice on their travels.
The home side will go into Saturday’s encounter without Diego Lopez who is serving a one game suspension, whilst Joselu will be missing for the visitors due to suspension.
Celta Vigo, who are only a single point ahead of the bottom three, face Villarreal at Abanca- Balaidos.
The home side go into the game on the back of no win in their last five, whilst Villarreal are winless in their last three games.
Vigo will be without Sergio Alvarez, who is still out with a meniscus injury. As for the visitors, they will be missing Rueben Pena through suspension, with Bruno Soriano, Ramiro Mori and Ramiro Guerra all out through injuries.
Struggling Leganes host Valladolid on Saturday evening at Estadio Municipal de Butarque.
In the last three meetings between the sides Leganes hold a record of two wins and a draw.
Leganes go into the game on the back of their last match before the enforced break which was a 2-1 victory against Villarreal.
Saturday will also see Barca travel to Mallorca in the last match of the day.
Despite an unblemished home form, Barcelona have struggled on their travels this season picking up 18 points from 13 matches.
In their last three meetings between the sides Barcelona have hit 14 goals, with Mallorca replying with just two.
The hosts will be missing Lumor Agbenyenu and Leonardo Koutris through injuries with Clement Lenglet out for Barca due to suspension.
Athletic Bilbao take on Atletico Madrid in the first of three games on Sunday.
The home side will go into the game with bags of confidence having won their last two matches against Vallodolid and Villarreal.
Madrid are certainly becoming the draw specialist on their travels- so far having picked up seven- and three victories.
The visitors have doubts for Sunday game with Angel Correa, Joao Felix and Sime Vrsaljko injured along with long term Dario Poveda who is out for the season.
Second place Real Madrid take on Eibar on Sunday at the Bernabeu.
Madrid who are currently unbeaten at home will be strong favourites to take all three points having beaten Eiber four times in their last five meetings between the sides, however Real go into the game having had only one win in their last five games. Eiber have only one win in their last five games and that was against Levante.
Gareth Bale is a doubt for the home side, with Nancho Fernandez and Luka Jovic out. For the visitors, Gonzalo Escalante misses the match due to suspension.
The final match on a packed weekend of La Liga action sees Real Sociedad entertain Osasuna.
Fourth placed Sociedad are on fire at the moment having won four of their last five matches before the break.
Ander Guevara is a doubt for the hosts with Osasuna coming into the game without potentially as many as seven players.