1st vs 9th, 2nd vs 8th and 3rd vs 7th.
Yes, another weekend of tricky fixtures awaits the top 3 clubs in La Liga as they all face teams who are comfortably placed in the top half of the table but eager to push for the European spots by trying to pull out an upset.
Saturday 19th January 2013
Real Sociedad vs Barcelona 17:00GMT
Sunday 20th January 2013
Atletico Madrid vs Levante 18:00GMT
Valencia vs Real Madrid 20:00GMT
Real Sociedad vs Barcelona
The records continue to tumble for Barcelona, who finished the first half of the season with the highest ever points total in La Liga.Their remarkable total of 55 points from a possible 57 is three more than Pep Guardiola’s Barca side managed in the 2010-11 season after 19 games and gives them an 11-point lead over Atletico Madrid while Real Madrid languish 18 points adrift.
David Villa is expected to miss the trip to San Sebastian through injury and so Messi is again set to play alongside Pedro Rodriguez and Andres Iniesta as Alexis Sanchez struggles for form.But Tito Vilanova has come to the defence of Alexis Sanchez ahead of their trip.
Sanchez was booed by sections of the Barca crowd in the disappointing 2-2 Copa Del Rey draw against Malaga. But Tito defended him and said :
“He is a young player with all the desire in the world. If he has missed chances it is because he has made the sprints to have them.
“We can accept him missing chances, but not him not trying. He tried”.
“He is one of us and if we don’t help him he will go into his shell and it will be even harder for him.”
Despite his support, Tito is set to drop Sanchez as Pedro is in a decent form.
Atl Madrid vs Levante
Atletico face a tough clash with Europe-chasing Levante.
Atletico boss Diego Simeone did not assure the fans about Falcao’s position in the club. He said it looked very possible that Falcao could still leave the club in this window.
The in-form striker has been linked with a host of Europe’s top clubs, and Simeone said supporters should just enjoy watching the Colombian while he is still at the club.
“We need to be realistic and I don’t like to lie to the fans,” he told Marca. “I don’t know what can happen with Falcao and we need to enjoy him now he is with us. If he stays then it’s much better, but I don’t look so far ahead.”
But as long as Falcao plays, he can be a devastating threat to the opposition and the fact that the match will take place Madrid, will not help Levante’s cause much.
Valencia vs Real Madrid :
This weekend, Real Madrid will take on Valencia in probably the match of the weekend.For Madrid, a result is critical coming off a 0-0 draw against Osasuna, currently bottom of the table. Also, with all the drama surrounding manager Jose Mourinho and goalkeeper Iker Casillas, things are not looking so well for Los Blancos.
So the main questions now is who will be in goal as Madrid face Valencia again in the league, with Spain international Iker Casillas having been replaced by Antonio Adan before Adan was suspended.
“There are a lot of opinions going around and I’m not getting involved in that. All I can say is that I will work hard and the coach will decide. I have no idea who will be picked,” said Adan.
On the other side, Los Murciélagos are coming off of a 2-0 win against Sevilla, and are in the midst of a three game win streak in La Liga. This game will be the second of three matchups between these teams in a span of a week due to the home and away games in the Copa del Rey sandwiching the tie.
Valencia is led by striker Roberto Soldado, and his 11 goals this season. If Valencia wants to come out victorious this weekend, they will need to distribute the ball to Soldado and have him put the ball in the back of the net.
The Other matches :
New Sevilla boss Unai Emery will hope for a winning start in his first league match at Getafe on Saturday, while on the same day Malaga entertain Celta Vigo.
On Sunday, Granada meet Rayo Vallecano, Osasuna play host to Deportivo La Coruna and Real Valladolid welcome Real Zaragoza, while Monday night’s game sees Athletic Bilbao visit Real Betis.