La liga week 9 preview: Top of the table clash as Celta Vigo host Real Madrid
Barcelona, Valencia, Athletico Madrid, Villareal and Athletic Bilbao all won their respective encounters in Europe in midweek with only Sevilla falling to a late defeat while Real Madrid held PSG in France. Spanish La Liga representatives collectively performed well proving the class of the number one league in Europe from the UEFA coefficient ranking.
Few would have predicted the Celta Vigo – Real Madrid match will be an important fixture at this stage of the season. Celta Vigo have been impressive with the 4-1 win over Barcelona been the highlight of their season so far. Nolito’s form together with Iago Aspas and other members of the squad has been commendable. Despite demolishing Barcelona, Celta Vigo will have to do the same against former European Champions, Real Madrid to announce their arrival as a contender for a top four place if not the title. Real Madrid did well in Paris during the week despite many injury problems faced by the team. The return of Luka Moric and reports suggesting Benzema to have trained with the team will be a big boost for the Blancos even though Bale and Rodriguez are unlikely to feature. Barcelona will see this as an opportunity to climb up the table at least one place when they host Eibar at the Camp Nou. Eibar on their own have had an impressive start to the season staying 7th on the table but its left to be seen if they can get a result against a spirited Barcelona team with goals coming from different players at the moment. Barcelona, Real Madrid and Celta Vigo are all on 18 points with the three separated with goal difference. A win for Barcelona with a draw in the other fixture will see the Catalans return to the top of the table. This is well known and Benitez’s men will do all they can to get maximum points away at Celta Vigo.
The 9th week of the Primera Liga will start Rayo Vallecano hosting Espanyol. Espanyol are placed 9th and will be going to Vallecano full of confidence with Felipe Caicedo on top form. Espanyol won their last match away at Real Betis and will depend on such momentum to get the better of Vallecano. The host however will want the maximum points to stay off the relegation zone. Levante will hope to put more pressure on David Moyes when Real Sociedad come visiting. Both teams have not been at their best this season and a win will be priceless for either side. Levante is 18th, two places behind Real Sociedad even though they both have 6 points but Sociedad’s superior goal difference placed them 16th on the table. Although, they are still bottom of the table, Granada will take positives out of their 3-3 away draw at Gijon last weekend when they host Real Betis. It may be a difficult task but the impressive performance of Isaac Success last weekend will be a big boost for the team as they hope to get a lift off the bottom of the table. 10th place Real Betis will also want to get back to winning ways after a disappointing week 8 result.
Villareal dropped to 5th from 1st last weekend which highlights the competitiveness of the league at this stage. Impressive Europa League win in midweek may just be the right performance to return the yellow submarines back to their best after two consecutive defeats in the league. 19th place Las Palmas will be the host of Villareal in a match the latter is expected to win regardless of the performance from the host. Sevilla with 9 points and on 13th place are gradually climbing up the table after a poor start to the season. Unai Emery’s men lost in the UEFA Champions League in midweek thanks to a late Kevin De Bruyne strike in Manchester. The match against 11th placed Getafe will present a good opportunity for the team to bounce back and fight their way to the top. Getafe has been impressive this season and Sevilla will have to be at their best to get the required maximum points.
Valencia’s trip to Calderon to face Athletico Madrid is one of the toughest fixtures of the weekend. With 4 points between the two teams, Athletico Madrid will want to keep up with the title contenders and only a victory will do for Diego Simeone. Valencia will rely on the current team spirit that has seen them win two games in a row to get something from the Calderon. Malaga’s last weekend 3-0 loss to Valencia has not helped but an opportunity to stay off the relegation zone and climb up the table will come against an impressive 6th placed Deportivo La Coruna. Athletico Bilbao will host Sporting Gijon in the last match of the week with both teams in the second half of the table.
Asides the fight for a place at the top of the table, four players from the top three teams will be fighting for a place at the top of the Pichichi chart this weekend. Neymar impressive 4 goals last weekend pushed him to 8 in this Liga season leaving him top of the Pichichi race while Nolito, Benzema and Ronaldo are all on 6 goals. Sporting’s Lora and Villareal’s Soldado both lead the assist chart with 4 each to their names.