LaLiga Matchday 23 preview & The Story Of The Madrid Derby

Barcelona travel to a resurgent Athletic Club side on Sunday evening in one of LaLiga’s most historic encounters and a particularly special match for blaugrana coach Ernesto Valverde who returns to the club he played for and twice coached.

La Liga

Atletico Madrid players celebrate the goal against Real Betis in a Laliga fixture

By then Barça will know the result of Saturday afternoon’s Madrid derby at the Wanda Metropolitano. Atletico de Madrid and Real Madrid kick off separated by just two points in the table, but so much more than local pride is at stake, especially with Blancos goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and new rojiblanco striker Alvaro Morata facing their former sides.

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The weekend’s action begins at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla on Friday evening with a six-pointer at the wrong end of the table. 15th placed Real Valladolid are looking over their shoulders after just one win in seven league games while 19th placed Villarreal are now nine LaLiga outings without a victory.

RC Celta picked up a badly-needed first three points of 2019 last weekend so should travel in good spirits for Saturday lunchtime’s visit to a Getafe team riding high in fifth spot and aiming for European competition next season.

18th placed Rayo Vallecano will also be looking to continue their recent good run on Saturday afternoon when they visit an Espanyol side now just two points ahead of them in the table.

Girona are another team looking to avoid being dragged into the relegation battle. The Catalans face a test in Saturday’s late game, as visitors Huesca may still be bottom but come into the game in high spirits after last weekend’s 4-0 win over Valladolid.

Sunday lunchtime sees 13th placed Leganes aiming to build on Monday’s South Madrid derby win over Rayo, with the visitors to Butarque a Real Betis team dreaming of Champions League football next season after last Sunday’s victory over Atletico.

Another side with Champions League aspirations are Valencia, who host Real Sociedad on Sunday afternoon. Los Che took further confidence from last weekend’s 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou but the Txuri-urdin will not fear anything after their Basque derby win over Athletic last time out.

After some up-and-down form recently Sevilla will be looking to tighten their hold on fourth spot with a win at the Sanchez-Pizjuán early on Sunday evening, though visitors Eibar will travel knowing they have taken six points and scored eight goals across their last three LaLiga games.

The action wraps up Monday evening with Alaves aiming for three points to steady things after a rough spell, while Levante come to Mendizorroza looking for a first victory on the road since October at the Santiago Bernabeu.

· Ernesto Valverde returns to face his former club Athletic as Barça visit San Mames six points clear at the top of the LaLiga Santander table.

· Atletico de Madrid and Real Madrid face off in the Madrid derby separated by just two points in the table!

· R. Valladolid and Villarreal kick off the weekend with six-pointer at the Jose Zorilla.

· RC Celta will be in high spirits after picking up their first win of 2019, but Getafe are flying high in the European spots.

· Rayo Vallecano have taken 13 points from their last six games and face an Espanyol side in free-fall.

· Girona vs. Huesca pits together these two northern sides keen to push up the table away from the threat of relegation.

· Leganes come into the game after a derby win over Rayo but visitors Real Betis have their eyes set on Champions League qualification… expect goals!

· Valencia are also dreaming of returning to the Champions League but will have their work cut out against an in-form Real Sociedad side.

· High-flying Sevilla will look to tighten their hold on the fourth and final Champions League spot against Eibar on Sunday.

· Alaves have impressed this season but will be keen to steady the ship after a rough patch against Levante at their Mendizorrotza stadium.