It has been a fascinating season so far in Spain, with Barcelona and Real Madrid locked in a fight for the league title. The challengers have seized the initiative over recent weeks, but can Barcelona get a win to get back into contention this weekend?
Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid
The biggest game in Spain this weekend will see the two Madrid rivals go head to head. Zinedine Zidane’s side could put down a huge market for the months ahead with a win over their rivals, while Atletico could use this game as a platform for the remainder of the season.
Real Madrid have been consistent throughout the season so far, and they have only lost on one occasion. They jumped to the top of the table last weekend with a win over Valladolid. Their success, coupled with defeat for Barcelona meant that they leap-frogged their big rivals to have a three-point lead at the summit. Real were made to work very hard in that game as they had a lot of the ball but failed to produce any attacking threats. They finally got the winning goal with 12 minutes remaining as Nacho scored. They will have to be much better in the final third against Atletico.
It has been a miserable couple of weeks for Diego Simeone as he has watched his team lose two of their last three fixtures. His mood wouldn’t have been improved with a subdued 0-0 draw against Leganes over the weekend. Atletico were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by minnows Cultural Leonesa last week too. The forward players are yet to find their groove this season with Joao Felix, Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata only scoring eleven goals between them this season.
The last meeting between the sides was only a few weeks ago, as they played out a 0-0 draw in the Supercopa. Real went on to win the penalty shootout, but this league match could be as cagey as that meeting. Punters will be backing Real Madrid, but it will be a narrow win.
Barcelona vs Levante
Barcelona will be looking to bounce back from their shock defeat against Valencia when they welcome Levante to the Camp Nou over the weekend. That defeat at the Mestalla was their first defeat in the stadium for 12 years. Barcelona have struggled to create chances in the final third since the injury to Luis Suarez.
Lionel Messi was unable to inspire them on that afternoon, but he will likely be back to his best when Levante come to town. Quique Setien hasn’t enjoyed a smooth ride since his arrival. He won his first game in charge against Granada before they narrowly escaped an upset to claim a 2-1 win against Ibiza. The pressure mounted on him with their 2-0 defeat against Valencia and the pressure could become too much if they were to lose again against Levante this weekend.
However, Levante will have to improve their performance levels as their form over recent weeks has been very poor. They have lost their last three in all competitions, and have only scored once during that run. Their last outing in LaLiga was a 2-0 defeat against Osasuna, and Levante offered very little in the final third. They registered just two shots on target in that defeat, and if they don’t improve, then it could be an easy afternoon for Barcelona on the weekend.
Punters will be backing Barcelona for the clash, as Levante’s form has been too poor to justify them getting anything from the Camp Nou. Messi will get his name on the scoresheet in a comfortable win.