Atletico on a quest to chase down Barcelona 

WINDHOEK, MARCH 8 – Atletico Madrid will be on a quest to chase down La Liga leaders Barcelona when round 27 of the 2018/19 season gets underway this weekend.

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Barcelona took a major step toward successfully defending their championship last weekend when they edged Real Madrid 1-0 at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. They face a considerably easier task (on paper at least) when they host Rayo Vallecano on Saturday, but Ernesto Valverde’s team have often taken the foot off the pedal in so-called ‘easy’ games this season.

Atletico Madrid will hope the relegation-threatened Rayo can spring a surprise at the Camp Nou, with that match following their own at home to Leganes earlier in the day. The Rojiblancos are seven points off Barcelona heading into the weekend, but it will only take one swing of three points to revive real interest in the title chase.

Diego Simeone’s team secured a 2-0 away win over Real Sociedad in the previous round and the arrival of Alvaro Morata (who netted both goals at the Estadio Municipal de Anoeta) has taken the pressure off Antoine Griezmann to be their main man in attack. If the former Chelsea striker can find peak form down the back straight of the La Liga season, then Atletico will have real hope of claiming the title.

Elsewhere, Real Madrid manager Santiago Solari will be reeling from back-to-back El Clasico defeats (Barca also defeated Los Blancos in the Copa del Rey three days prior to their league clash) and needs his team to lift their game for a potential banana skin of a game at Estadio Municipal Jose Zorrilla against relegation-threatened Real Valladolid.

In the race for the top four, Getafe have a home match against Huesca and will look to Jaime Mata to continue his excellent form (five goals in their last four La Liga outings), while fifth-placed Deportivo Alaves will look to up the pressure in the battle for the final Champions League berth when they host Eibar on Saturday afternoon.

Sevilla, meanwhile, must arrest their slide down the table (stemming from five winless matches, four of which have ended in defeat) when they host Sociedad at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Sunday evening.

Key match stats

Atletico Madrid v Leganes – Head-to-head, all competitions
Matches played 10
Atletico wins 6
Leganes wins 1
Draws 3

Barcelona v Rayo Vallecano – Head-to-head, all competitions
Matches played 25
Barca wins 18
Vallecano wins 3
Draws 4

Real Valladolid v Real Madrid – Head-to-head, all competitions
Matches played 35
Valladolid wins 4
Madrid wins 21
Draws 10

La Liga fixtures, 8-10 March
All times CAT

Friday 8 March
22:00: Athletic Bilbao v Espanyol – LIVE on SS7, Max1 & SelGo4

Saturday 9 March
14:00: Deportivo Alaves v Eibar – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
17:15: Atletico Madrid v Leganes – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
19:30: Barcelona v Rayo Vallecano – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
21:45: Getafe v Huesca – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4

Sunday 10 March
13:00: Celta de Vigo v Real Betis – LIVE on SS7, Max2/Max360 & SelGo2/SelGo4
17:15: Girona v Valencia – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
19:30: Levante v Villarreal – LIVE on SS10, Max360 & SelGo2
19:30: Sevilla v Real Sociedad – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
21:45: Real Valladolid v Real Madrid – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4 – MultiChoice Namibia