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Football

Barcelona out to continue fine start to La Liga title defence

Huesca vs Real Sociedad

Estadio El Alcoraz, Huesca

Friday, 21-09-2018 @10:00pm (Super Sport 7)

Referee: Ignacio Iglesias Eillanueva

Huesca continue their La Liga adventure against out of form Real Sociedad at El Alcoraz on Friday. Leonardo Neoren Franco’s side had started their La Liga campaign in positive fashion, winning 2-1 in their opening fixture away at Eibar and drawing 2-2 at Athletic Bilbao to secure an impressive four points from their first two top flight tests. However, they lost their two next games conceding nine and scoring only two goals. Their chances of bouncing back with a win this Friday are helped by Real Sociedad’s mounting injury list. Key striker Willian José, gifted winger Adnan Januzaj and centre back Diego Llorente will all miss Friday’s match through injury.

Like Huesca, Real Sociedad haven’t won in La Liga since the opening game of the season. Sociedad have drawn one and lost the other two league fixtures since the 2-1 win away to Villareal on opening day.

This will be the first top flight meeting between the two sides. However, Sociedad have won three of their last four fixtures against Huesca.

Rayo Vallecano vs Deportivo Alaves

Estadio del Rayo Vallecano, Madrid

Saturday, 22-09-2018 @02:00pm (Super Sport 7)

Referee: Adrian Cordero Vega

Fresh from their first La Liga win of the season, last year’s Segunda División champions Rayo Vallecano will be eager to put some more points on the board at the expense of Deportivo Alaves when the teams meet on Sunday. Vallacano who are expected to be without Tito and Uruguayan defender Emiliano Velazquez started the league slowly, to Sevilla and Atletico Madrid but last weekend’s win should boost their confidence going into matc day Five.

Their opponents Alaves are in fine form, winning both of their last two game. Abelardo Fernandez’s men sit seventh on the log having lost one and drawn the other of their first four games. However, they will still be without Adrian Marin, Thomas Pina, Borja Baston and Brazilian Rodrigo Ely when they visit the Estadio del Rayo Vallecano.

This will be the first top flight meeting between these two sides since a 1-1 draw in 2003. However, they met four times in the Segunda division with both of them winning twice.

Celta Vigo vs Real Valladolid

Abanca-Balaidos, Vigo

Saturday, 22-09-2018 @05:15pm (Super Sport 7)

Referee: Eduardo Prieto Iglesias

Celta Vigo welcome goalless and winless Real Valladolid to Abanca-Balaídos on Saturday as they look to get back to business in La Liga after losing their first match of the season last week. Celta had started the 2018/19 La Liga in fine fashion after taking seven points from the first nine available but lost 3-2 away to Girona last weekend.

For the Visitors, they have not won a signle game this season but have somehow managed two draws in their first four games. Both of Valladolid’s points this season came on the road in 0-0 draws at Girona and Getafe.

Celta will be without the suspended Gustavo Cabral. The visitors on the other hand will have to do without the trio of Luismi Sanchez, Daniele Verde and Joaquin Fernandez.

The last time these two sides met in the league, Celta thrashed Valladolid 4-1 at Balaidos. Valladolid have only triumphed once away to Celta in 21 years. The solo victory dates back to a 2-1 win back in 2011.

Eiber vs Leganes

Estadio Municipal de Ipurua

Saturday, 22-09-2018 @17:15pm

Referee: Mario Melero Lopez

Eibar take on Leganés at the Ipurua Municipal Stadium on Saturday, aiming to extend their recent unbeaten run in the league to three matches.  Eibar had an inauspicious start to their fresh La Liga campaign, losing at home on the opening day of the season to newly promoted Huesca. Another defeat in game week two, this time at Getafe, threatened to dissolve any new season optimism in the Los Armeros ranks. However, Eibar recovered instantly-winning 2-1 at Sociedad and drawing at Athletico Madrid.

For Leganes, they make the trip north to the Basque region of Spain still searching for their first win of the 2018/19 season. Leganés have lost both of their away matches so far against Athletic Club and Real Madrid respectively. In the other two games, they lost to Villareal and then earned a hard fought 2-2 draw against Sociedad.

Pedro Leon is the only injury concern for Eiber while the away side will have to access both Jose Arnaiz and Alexander Szymanowski before the game.

Eiber go into the game having won all their last three home games against Leganes including a 1-0 victory over Mauricio Pellegrino’s men last season.

Getafe vs Atletico 

Coliseum Alfonso Perez, Getafe 

Saturday, 22-09-2018 @07:30pm (Super Sport 7)

Referee: Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez

Getafe welcome Atlético Madrid to the Estadio Coliseum Alfonso Pérez on Saturday, hoping to extend their recent unbeaten run to four matches. Having fought their way to an 8th place finish in 2017/18, Getafe have made great early strides in the new campaign in their attempts to replicate the successes of last season. Los Azulones lost their opening match of 2018/19, though losing to Real Madrid in the Spanish capital was a result that Manager José Bordalás would have expected. From there, Getafe started their league season again, taking seven points from a possible nine in their games against Eibar, Real Valladolid and Sevilla.

Atletico have yet to kick into gear in 2018/19, though an impressive Champions League away win in Monaco in mid-week should help them shake off their early-season rustiness.  While it’s not unusual for los Colchoneros to post modest goal scoring figures, they would have still expected to have netted more than three times in four matches against Valencia, Rayo Vallecano, Celta Vigo and Eibar. The four fixtures have produced only one victory, something that should concern the Atletico faithful.

Mauro Arambarri, Ignasi Miquel and Bergara Larranaga are all still sidelined for Getafe while Vitolo and Nichola Kalinic are the only absentees for the visitors.

Diego Simione’s side have not lost a competitive fixture to Getafe since 2012. In that period, they have won 11 of the 14 games.

Real Madrid vs Espanyol

Estadio Santiago Bernabue, Madrid

Saturday, 22-09-2018 @09:45pm (Super Sport 7)

Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz

Real Madrid have an excellent record against the other side from Barcelona and they should enjoy another win at the Bernabeu this Saturday in La Liga. Despite the 1-1 draw at Bilbao last time out, Los Blanco’s have won their other three league fixtures. They will be hoping to make it four wins in five when Espanyol visits on Saturday.

Espanyol have not won away to Real Madrid since 1996, although they have made a positive start to this season with seven points from their opening four matches. The Periquitos have won both home matches, scoring three goals and conceding none in the process, while away from home they claimed a respectable point at Celta Vigo and lost against Alaves.

Julen Lopetegui fielded a strong starting eleven in the Champions League and with his side facing another tough midweek game at Sevilla on Wednesday, he may choose to rotate his squad for the visit of Espanyol.  For the visitors, they could be missing center-back David Lopez through injury.

Espanyol have not won away at Real Madrid since 1996, most recently conceding 27 and scoring just one in an eight-match losing streak.

Levante vs Sevilla

Estadio Cuidad de Valencia, Valencia

Sunday, 23-08-2018 @02:00pm (Super Sport 7)

Referee: Guillermo Cuadra Fernandez

Levante and Sevilla sit side by side in the current La Liga standings, occupying 11th and 12th spot respectively ahead of their clash at the Estadi Ciutat de València on Sunday. Levante shocked the rest of the division on the opening weekend of the 2018/19 season, when they recorded a fantastic 3-0 win away at Real Betis. However, that win remains their only league victory of the season to date, losing two and drawing one of the other three since then.

For Sevilla, they make the long journey to across to play Levante desperate to avoid losing for the third successive game in the league. Pablo Machín’s men were beaten 1-0 at Real Betis in the Seville Derby before they lost 2-0 at home to Getafe, making it two losses in their opening four games.

The visitors have some injury issues with Maxim Gonalons and Sergio Escudero expected to be out. For Levante, forward Armando Sadiku is their only injury worry.

Levante defeated Sevilla 2-1 here last season. The victory is their only one over Sevilla at the Cuidad since March 2013.

Villareal vs Vallencia

Estadio de El Madrigal, Villarreal

Sunday, 23-09-2018 @05:15pm (Super Sport 7)

Referee: Santiago Jaime Latre

Villarreal sit just three places and one point clear of Valencia as they prepare to host Los Che at El Madrigal in an intriguing looking Derbi de la Comunitat fixture on Sunday. The home side had to wait until last weekend to carve out their first victory of the new season and Manager Javier Calleja will hope that his team’s 1-0 win at Leganés will help to kick start what’s been a stuttering campaign so far.

For Valencia, they have at least been putting points on the board, though those points have been arriving in singles so far. A draw against Atlético Madrid in the first game of the season was seen as a good result, though defeats against Espanyol and further draws against Levante and Real Betis certainly weren’t.

Javi Fuego, Bruno and Santiago Caseres will sit this one out for Villareal due to injury while Garay and Francis Coqueline are still sidelined for the visitors.

Villareal go into the game having won five of their last six meetings with Valencia.

Real Betis vs Athletic Bilbao

Estadio Benito Villamarin, Sevilla

Sunday, 23-09-2018 @09:00pm (Super Sport 7)

Referee: Javier Estrada Fernandez

Real Betis lock horns with Athletic Club at the Benito Villamarín this weekend, looking to end a sequence of three successive defeats against Los Leones. Both teams come into Sunday’s match in the midst of recent three match unbeaten runs in La Liga. Real Betis recovered well from their confidence shattering 0-3 defeat at home to Levante on the opening weekend of the season, taking five points from the next nine available as they start to pull themselves up the table.

Athletic Club travel to Andalusia armed with a terrific recent record in games against Real Betis. Los Leones have won seven of their last eight meetings with their weekend hosts and that’s the kind of run that can swing a match in a team’s favour before a ball is kicked.

William Carvalho is the only absentee for Betis. Iago Herrerin and Inigo Lekue will sit the game out for the visitors.

Bilbao have won seven of their last nine fixtures against Betis with three coming at the Villamarin.

Barcelona vs Girona

Estadio Camp Nou Barcelona

Sunday, 23-09-2018 @09:15pm (Super Sport 7)

Referee: Jesus Gil Manzano

Barcelona welcome Girona to Camp Nou on Sunday looking to blitz their Catalonian neighbours for the second time running, having stuck six goals past them in last season’s corresponding league fixture.  The La Liga champions have also started their title defence in perfect fashion, taking twelve points from twelve thanks to four impressive victories in their opening quartet of domestic fixtures, netting fourteen times in their first four matches of the 2018/19 campaign.

Girona have started their own season in impressive fashion, something that will give Barcelona a little extra to think about. They have taken seven points from twelve so far and spirits are high iat the club after successive La Liga victories against Villarreal and Celta Vigo in their last two outings. However, Girona conceded four times in their solitary defeat at home to Real Madrid, a team with a comparable set of attackers to Barcelona.

Going into the game, Brazilian Malcom and Denis Suarez are the only major absentees for Ernesto Valvade’s men. For Girona, Planas, Antony Lozano, Johan Palacio and Jonas Chimeno are all sidelined.

Girona has never taken a point off Barcelona in their history.

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