Barcelona’s revenge mission, no Christmas cheer for Real Madrid and Villarreal’s reboot – four big match day matters in La Liga this weekend
Real Madrid, only one match away from being set ablaze (again)
Real Madrid might have sacked Julen Lopetegui nearly two months ago but affairs aren’t falling into place as expected. The team improved under Santiago Solari in the first few games, but the defeats have been loud and spectacular. A 3-0 against Eibar and this week’s 0-3 debacle home versus CSKA Moscow, inside the mighty Charmartín and in their favourite playground (the Champions League), have once again set off all the alarms.
Once again, Real will have to face their own demons and home crowd in a relatively straightforward fixture against Rayo Vallecano, a local side stuck at the wrong end of the standings.
However, the game might be the least of their problems. With Gareth Bale again injured, the team underperforming and the fans booing and whistling an Isco who is already thinking about packing and leaving the team, the atmosphere won’t be the happiest or merriest even if Christmas is just around the corner.
Solari: "Throughout the history of this club, everything we've achieved has come through unity with the fans. We hope they'll help us and show their support tomorrow." #HalaMadrid pic.twitter.com/PJXAFIiw7b
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) December 14, 2018
Barça seek revenge for their record-breaking defeat against Levante
They seemed unstoppable. They were unstoppable, in fact, for most of the season. After getting surprisingly kicked out of the Champions League in Rome, Barça had the chance of completing a full league campaign without being defeated. But along came Levante in Matchday 37 of the 2017-2018 season and, in a game for the ages, destroyed Barça’s defense and achieved a score (5-4) which will remembered by the Granotas forever.
It’s been over half a year but several Barça players still have that thorn stuck in their side. And they will surely want some sweet revenge on the humble Levantinista squad. Paco López is still on their bench performing miracles every single weekend, though, so who knows? We might be in for another surprise… of course, that is if Messi allows that to happen.
Luis García faces a crucial debut with Villarreal
He came in last Monday and already has a match-ball to win in his first official La Liga weekend. Luis García Plaza has replaced Javi Calleja and faces an epic debut in Huesca, as Villarreal have the chance of pulling-off a double win: both distancing themselves from the bottom places and sinking SD Huesca into last place at the same time.
Villarreal have reasons to remain optimistic: their squad has plenty of potential, which Calleja was unable to exploit; and on Thursday some of that quality peeked its head in their solid win against Spartak Moscow, with goals by Chukwueze and Toko Ekambi.
— Villarreal CF English (@Eng_Villarreal) December 14, 2018
A nerve-wrecking last away game for Valencia
Valencia CF boosted their morale last Wednesday with a win full of prestige against Manchester United, but again, their chances of moving on to the next Champions League round were non-existent. They played well, but most of the eyes were set on this weekend’s vital showdown in Ipurua. Valencia are in no man’s land in the table, so the outcome of the match is very relevant to both the team and the fans.
Eibar isn’t the best host for them, though. Ipurua is a treacherous ground where the mighty usually fall. Marcelino will face a tactical battle with a smart Jose Luis Mendilibar at the same time that his players have to cope with the absence of Gonçalo Guedes, who underwent hip surgery this Friday and will be left out of the squad for the next two months.