WINDHOEK, JAN 23 – Round 21 of the 2018/19 La Liga season will once again see Atletico Madrid looking to put the pressure on leaders Barcelona, while Real Madrid will hope they can begin making up ground on their rivals at the top of the log.
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For the fourth round in a row since the turn of the year, chasers Atletico will play before Barca. This weekend will see Diego Simeone’s team at home to Getafe on Saturday evening, with the Blaugrana only in action a day later away to Girona.
While sixth-placed Getafe will not be an easy team to beat, Atleti will still fancy their chances of picking up all three points – especially as last weekend’s 3-0 win at Huesca saw them finally ease their reliance on goals from French star Antoine Griezmann – and close to within two points of the top.
It would then be over to Ernesto Valverde’s team for their match at Estadi Municipal de Montilivi, where the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele will look to put some shots past Moroccan goalkeeper Yassine Bounou (who recently agreed to extend his contract with Girona) in an effort to restore their lead.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid will be hoping to see both of the top two teams drop points as they aim to resuscitate their title hopes. Santiago Solari’s team climbed up to third on the table with a 2-0 win over Sevilla last weekend and will be favourites to build further momentum when they play away to Espanyol on Sunday night.
However, bridging the 10-point gap between themselves and Barcelona in the space of 18 rounds of league matches will be no easy task, leaving Solari as a man under pressure regardless of whether his team can string together a series of positive results.
Elsewhere, Karl Toko Ekambi and Samuel Chukwueze’s Villarreal will be desperate to arrest their slide toward the foot of the table when they head to the Mestalla to face Valencia on Saturday night. The ‘Yellow Submarine’ are winless in their last seven matches across all competitions and have slipped into the red zone of La Liga.
Other key games include Sevilla looking to defend their place in the top four when they open the round with a clash at home to Levante on Saturday, Athletic Bilbao will look to maintain their promising recent form with a win at home to Aissa Mandi’s Real Betis, and Mubarak Wakaso’s Deportivo Alaves will look to shrug off their 4-0 loss to Getafe last weekend when they host relegation-threatened Rayo Vallecano on Monday 28 January.
Key match stats
Espanyol v Real Madrid – Head-to-head, all competitions
Matches played 51
Espanyol wins 8
Real wins 37
Girona v Barcelona – Head-to-head, all competitions
Matches played 5
Girona wins 0
Barca wins 4
Atletico Madrid v Getafe – Head-to-head, all competitions
Matches played 32
Atletico wins 20
Getafe wins 4
La Liga fixtures, 26-28 January
All times CAT
Saturday 26 January
14:00: Sevilla v Levante – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
17:15: Atletico Madrid v Getafe – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
19:30: Leganes v Eibar – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
21:45: Athletic Club v Real Betis – LIVE on SS7/SS10, Max2/Max360 & SelGo2/SelGo4
Sunday 27 January
13:00: Real Valladolid v Celta de Vigo – LIVE on SS7/SS10, Max2/Max360 & SelGo2/SelGo4
17:15: Girona v Barcelona – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
19:30: Valencia v Villarreal – LIVE on SS7A, Max2 & SelGo4
19:30: Real Sociedad v Huesca
21:45: Espanyol v Real Madrid – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
Monday 28 January
22:00: Deportivo Alaves v Rayo Vallecano – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4