La Liga Weekend Preview (Part 1): Real Madrid and Barcelona to win

Before I get started on the preview, some info for fans who are looking to watch La Liga games on TV:

Matches live on Skysports:
Saturday: Levante vs. Barcelona — 8:55pm (UK time)

Matches live on La Sexta/TVE:
Saturday: Levante vs. Barcelona — 10:00pm (Spanish time), La Sexta

Matches live on Canal+:

Part 1 of this weekend preview contains a detailed look at the the Real Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla matches, with short previews and predictions for other fixtures.

Saturday 29th September 2007

Real Zaragoza — Sevilla

After being conclusively dismantled by a Messi-inspired Barcelona, things don’t get a whole lot easier for Zaragoza, whose ambitions to qualify for the Champions League will be thoroughly tested by a Sevilla side who, although currently experiencing a downturn in form — the Andalucian club were beaten 3-2 at home to Espanyol on Tuesday, and were guilty of some very poor defending — is replete with quality.

Kanoute and Kone has the potential to be a very frightening partnership, if the two are allowed to start again (let’s just hope that another striker whose name begins with “K” is not added to the club, so as to avoid a deadly “KKK” combination). For me, this match has all of the makings of a draw, but I can’t see either club keeping a shutout — Zaragoza have conceded the second largest amount of goals in the league (9) and Sevilla have conceded 5 at home.

I predict a 1-1 draw.

Levante — FC Barcelona

Levante are rooted to the bottom of the league with a minus 8 goal difference. Barcelona are beginning to come back into form — the performance against Zaragoza was sublime in patches — and are also beginning to get players back from injury, although the squad is still suffering from withdrawals (Zambrotta is out for at least a month, Márquez has a light inury but should still play, Eto’o has a while to go yet in his recovery).

Puyol will start his first game of the season, and will quite possibly revert to right-back in order to allow the Márquez-Milito tandem to continue and to cover the loss of Italian Zambrotta. However, Barça have yet to score away from home and so this could be closer than expected. It probably won’t be though.

My prediction: a 3-0 win for Barça.

Sunday 30th September 2007

Getafe — Real Madrid

In a rival match filled with additional intrigue — Berndt Schuster faces his former club Getafe, Michael Laudrup lines up against a club rumoured to be interested in his services — the two teams come into the tie at opposite ends of the table.

Real Madrid and Barcelona are the only two unbeaten sides, and Real lead the roost with 13 points from 5 games; Getafe are second-bottom with 2 points (second-season syndrome anyone?). However, Real’s last two performances have been fairly abject, whilst Laudrup’s Getafe are creating excellent openings every game without getting their just desserts. What’s more, Getafe have a pretty good record against Real (in the last six fixtures there have been 2 wins for each team and 2 draws, the wins coming for the respective home teams), and so will go into this one with more than a little hope of causing an upset.

Schuster’s rotations could hit again, with the performance of his team very disappointing on Thursday, and with many players reserving their best performances for substitute appearances (for example Robinho and Higuaín, neither of whom have staked a proper claim for the one spot). Julio Baptista could grab a starting place after his wonderful bicycle kick last night. On the injury front, Ruud Van Nistelrooy should be fit, whilst Pepe and Metzelder continue to progress but might not be quite ready in time.

My prediction: it may not be pretty, but Real Madrid to edge this, 2-1.

Atletico Madrid — Osasuna

Atlético are another side coming into form, with the Aguero-Forlan partnership looking in tip-top shape. Osasuna are defending very well but not scoring too many (4 of their 5 goals came in the midweek fixture against Levante), and have made a reasonable but unspectacular start to the season. If the right Atlético team shows up, the victory should be assured for the rojiblancos. However, I have a hunch that this might be another night of frustration for the colchoneros, and can see this being a draw, or even Osasuna nicking a win, though to do so they will need to stop the exciting Aguero who has four goals in four games.

Prediction: 1-1.

Real Betis — Real Mallorca

Cúper’s Betis were unfortunate against Real Madrid in midweek — hitting the post on three occasions! — but they have yet to win a game so far this season. Mallorca produced a stunning fightback to defeat Valladolid 4-2 at home on Wednesday, to lift the club into 6th place. Juan Arango is in devastating form. I can see Betis’ misery continuing, although I am not backing Mallorca to take away all three points. Prediction: 1-1.

Espanyol — Deportivo

Former Champions League regulars Deportivo are in freefall, and the club lost 2-0 at home to Recre on Wednesday. Midfielder Sergio González recently called out for the fans to back the team or to stay at home. Espanyol, on the other hand, played very well in defeating Sevilla 3-2 and find themselves in 9th position, just above Sevilla. This match could go either way as neither team has been renowned for consistency in recent seasons.

I expect Espanyol and a rejuvenated Tamudo to push on and I predict a 2-1 victory for the Catalan club.

That’s it for part 1 of this weekend’s La Liga preview – hope you guys enjoyed it. Part 2 will be up soon; till then let us know how you think the weekend will turn out in the comments below.

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