A full set of La Liga matches were played out from Tuesday-Thursday and the first two nights went as expected but there was a shock loss for Villarreal at home to Espanyol on Thursday night. Real Madrid looked under threat for the first half against Rayo Vallecano but stepped up in the second half to win 2-0 whilst Barcelona enjoyed a routine 4-0 victory at the Nou Camp against Almeria.
Real Madrid v Eibar
Madrid stormed to a 4-0 victory at Eibar when these two sides met in November and after Madrid’s emphatic 9-1 victory the last time they set foot in the Bernabeu a similar goal scoring spree could be on the cards on Saturday. Eibar though have only conceded 40 goals in 30 La Liga matches and a recent clean sheet against Malaga helped them to a 1-0 victory which is an impressive result.
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 6 goals in his previous 2 games which takes his tally to the season to 37 which is 9 more than Eibar have scored all season in the league. However, he won’t be adding to his tally any time soon after his yellow card against Vallecano rules him out of the match to the disappointment of Carlo Ancelotti. It could mean a recall for Isco with Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale in advanced positions and Isco just behind. Pepe will remain side lined for the home side with Raphael Varane continuing to deputise alongside Sergio Ramos. Eibar did shock Madrid to a 1-1 draw a decade ago in the Copa Del Rey but they’ll have to meet a Madrid side completely out of sorts to repeat any similar outcome.
Malaga v Atletico Madrid
There has been 3 red cards in the last 2 meetings between these 2 and tempers could flare once again if Malaga can prove resilient against an Atletico side picking up some momentum at the business end of the season. 3 consecutive 2-0 victories for Diego Simone against Getafe, Cordoba and Real Sociedad has seen them keep the pace with Real Madrid and Barcelona as they eagerly await a slip up from either two Spanish giants.
Mario Mandzukic was missing in their last outing midweek against Sociedad but they had Antoine Griezmann continue his impressive season scoring his 16th goal of the season against his former employers. With the Champions League quarter-finals around the corner, Mandzukic is likely to once again be rested to give his ankle the necessary time to fully recover. Raul Garcia and Miguel Moya are still on the injury list but Joao Miranda has recently returned from injury to feature in defence. For Malaga, they have no fresh injury troubles as Marcos Angeleri and Ignacio Camacho remain unavailable.
Sevilla v Barcelona
Goals are often on display when these two go head to head with 26 goals in their 6 encounters. Barcelona have won all 6 previous meetings with some absolute thrillers but Luis Enrique’s did hammer Sevilla earlier this season with a 5-1 demolition job at the Nou Camp. However, they face an inform Sevilla side who’ve won 5 games on the bounce. Sevilla are on a tremendous run at home in La Liga, remaining unbeaten in their last 23 matches and have also kept 7 clean sheets in their last 8 home La Liga matches so the deadly trio of Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi will have their work cut out.
A recent foot injury was believed to have been more serious than everyone initially feared but Messi was present in their 4-0 win over Almeria. Luis Suarez dropped to the bench with Pedro stepping in but the Uruguayan still managed to score twice after coming on in the second half so expect him to start from the off. Stephane M’Bia will be Unai Emery’s only absentee and Emery will be determined for his side to seek revenge after their poor display against Barcelona previously.