WINDHOEK, JAN 17 – Round 20 of the 2018/19 La Liga season is headlined by a clash between Real Madrid and Sevilla, with the capital heavyweights hoping to claim a stronger foothold in the UEFA Champions League places.
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Real have suffered a roller-coaster ride of a campaign thus far, but last weekend they threw under-fire manager Santiago Solari a lifeline by winning 2-1 away to Real Betis (with a dramatic late goal from Dani Ceballos).
The win brought them back into the top four and this weekend they have a chance to leapfrog Sevilla into third, as they host the Andalusia club at the Bernabeu on Saturday evening. Pablo Machin’s side have generally punched above their weight this season, but a loss away to Athletic Bilbao last weekend was a wake-up call.
The good news for Sevilla is that they have serious form against Real, winning the last two league meetings of the teams and handing the heavyweights a 3-0 spanking (with goals from Andre Silva and Wissem Ben Yedder) back in September.
Leaders Barcelona will be favoured to keep up their march toward the title with a homOnly month end when Moses pays mee clash against Leganes on Sunday night. Forward Lionel Messi will look forward to the chance of starting his next century of La Liga goals, having hit the 400 mark in the Blaugrana’s 3-0 win over Eibar last weekend.
Ernesto Valverde’s side hold a five-point advantage over second-placed Atletico Madrid but the manager will be urging his side not to relax – especially with the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds on the horizon.
Second-placed Atletico Madrid can only try to win and build the pressure on Barca. For the second week in a row they will be in action before the leaders, away to Huesca on Saturday night, and hope that closing the gap can make the Catalans sweat a little.
Diego Simeone’s side is unbeaten in 16 matches across all competitions, but the goals have been hard to come by of late: Atletico have scored just four in their last four outings (in league and cup) and they have all come from French forward Antoine Griezmann.
In fact, the Les Bleus star has netted seven times in his club’s last seven games across all competitions – his form is exceptional and praiseworthy, but Simeone won’t be happy that the club is so reliant on one player.
Other key matches to look out for include Mubarak Wakaso’s Deportivo Alaves away to Getafe on Friday night, Geoffrey Kondogbia’s Valencia face a tricky trip to Sofiane Boufal’s Celta de Vigo, and Karl Toko Ekambi’s Villarreal will hope to get the better of the upwardly mobile Athletic Bilbao.
Key match stats
Real Madrid v Sevilla – Head-to-head, all competitions
Matches played 53
Madrid wins 34
Sevilla wins 15
Celta de Vigo v Valencia – Head-to-head, all competitions
Matches played 41
Celta wins 9
Valencia wins 17
Barcelona v Leganes – Head-to-head, all competitions
Matches played 5
Barca wins 4
Leganes wins 1
La Liga fixtures, 18-21 January
All times CAT
Friday 18 January
22:00: Getafe v Deportivo Alaves – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
Saturday 19 January
17:15: Real Madrid v Sevilla – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
19:30: Huesca v Atletico Madrid – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
21:45: Celta de Vigo v Valencia – LIVE on SS7/SS10, Max2 & SelGo2/SelGo4
Sunday 20 January
13:00: Real Betis v Girona – LIVE on SS7/SS10, Max2/Max360 & SelGo2/SelGo4
17:15: Villarreal v Athletic Bilbao – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
19:30: Levante v Real Valladolid – LIVE on SS5
19:30: Rayo Vallecano v Real Sociedad – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
21:45: Barcelona v Leganes – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
Monday 21 January
22:00: Eibar v Espanyol – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4 – Multichoice Namibia