PREVIEW | La Liga Matchday 4

After the end of this season’s first international break, La Liga is back with some fascinating ties in prospect.

Although many eyes were probably on the controversy surrounding the Brazil-Argentina match, and the four English-based players, the incident has had a direct on this round of fixtures in Spain.

Indeed, Sevilla vs Barcelona and Villarreal vs Alavés have both been postponed as South American qualifiers will be played on Friday morning.

Added to this, Morocco’s game in Guinea was also postponed due to a reported military coup taking place in Guinea.

In Morocco’s squad were no less than three Sevilla players (Munir, En-Nesyri and Bounou), as well as Getafe’s Sofian Chakla.

Both encounters serve to remind that football is not immune to the impact of Covid or politics.

Despite these incidents, there are still eight important clashes to be played this weekend in the Spanish top-flight.

Levante vs Rayo Vallecano

After losing 3-0 to Sevilla and 1-0 at home against Real Sociedad, Rayo Vallecano’s 4-0 thrashing of Granada was much needed for the Madrid-based side.

Andoni Iraola’s men have also been buoyed by the deadline day capture of former Atlético Madrid striker Radamel Falcao.

They will be hoping to push on from here.

Levante meanwhile have won one, drawn one and lost another.

The highlight of their season was their thrilling 3-3 draw against Real Madrid, but the Valencia-based side need to be winning encounters like the one they have this weekend in order to avoid spiralling into a relegation fight.

Athletic Club vs Mallorca

Marcelino’s side will be aiming to continue their unbeaten start to the season, which saw them draw against Barcelona and Elche and amass an impressive 1-0 away win over Celta Vigo.

Last season’s 10th place was a reasonable one for the Basque side as they spent the first half of the campaign languishing in the bottom half.

But this is Marcelino’s first full season and The Lions need to start challenging for Europe again.

Recently promoted Mallorca must be ecstatic with their recent transfer business which included the captures of three of La Liga’s most talented youngsters in Fer Niño, Takefusa Kubo and Kang-in Lee.

And with a draw and two victories already notched up, Mallorca mean business.

Incidentally, former Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has been training with Mallorca.

Due to the two postponements, the bulk of this weekend’s action will take place on Sunday, with four live fixtures.

Espanyol vs Atlético Madrid

The Catalan-based side have failed to score in all of their opening three matches, and facing Atlético Madrid is one of the toughest assignments in world football when you are short of goals.

That said, Espanyol scored 71 goals in the Segunda División last year, which is at least 15 more than both promoted rivals.

Atlético have had a decent, if unspectacular, start to their defence of the title and could hand Antoine Griezmann his debut after the Frenchman joined on loan from Barcelona.

Simeone’s men won their opening two matches by a solitary goal and then drew 2-2 in bizarre fashion at home against Unai Emery’s Villarreal.

They are amongst five other teams who are on seven points.

No side has won all three matches.

Osasuna vs Valencia

Valencia are another side who are on seven points after an impressive start to the campaign under new manager Bordelás.

A scrappy 1-0 win over Getafe was followed by a 1-1 draw against Granada. But it is Valencia’s last match, a 3-0 thumping of Alavés, which will give Los Che hope for the season ahead.

But Osasuna is likely to be a tough test.

After two 0-0 draws, the Pamplona-based side beat Cádiz 3-2 with two stoppage-time goals last time out.

And, as the cliche goes, El Sadar is not an easy place to visit.

Cádiz vs Real Sociedad

On the receiving end of that comeback, Cádiz have yet to register a victory this season, although they did draw their opening two encounters.

Florin Andone and Rubin Sobrino have been brought in to bolster their attack and help veteran striker Álvaro Negredo.

Another team to look out for this year is Real Sociedad who, after their 4-2 loss to Barcelona, have come back with two 1-0 victories over Rayo Vallecano and Levante.

Real Madrid vs Celta Vigo

Real Madrid are, according to Marca, “hoping” that they will be playing this weekend at the redeveloped Santiago Bernabéu stadium.

This could help kickstart their season and players like Bale, Asensio, Isco and Hazard can show their true quality once more.

Although Carlo Ancelotti, on his return, has masterminded two wins and a draw, which is enough to be in top place, Real Madrid have not convinced their doubters yet.

Celta Vigo will be looking to gate-crash this homecoming, although two defeats against Athletic Club and Atlético Madrid and a 0-0 do not give the Galician side much confidence.

Getafe vs Elche

Getafe host Elche in the first of two Monday night matches to finish off the matchday.

With the loan signing of Vitolo, and the permanent deal of Carles Aleñá, Getafe will be aiming to do better than last season, in which they only ended up four points clear of the relegation zone.

Elche were another team in trouble last season and may be again.

Like Rayo Vallecano, they have surprised the football world with a transfer deal, signing Argentine attacking midfielder Javier Pastore.

Granada vs Real Betis

The final fixture of matchday four sees an Andalusian derby with both sides needing the points already in the season.

Granada, after respectable draws against Valencia and Villarreal, were demolished 4-0 by Rayo Vallecano.

Real Betis, for their part, despite a commanding performance against Real Madrid, in which they lost 1-0, and two draws, they really need a win.

Especially if they are to build upon last season’s sixth-place finish.

James Felton

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