MANILA, Philippines – LaLiga Santander returns from the international break with a bang this weekend, with the highlight being the battle between league leaders Sevilla and second-placed champions Barcelona on Saturday, October 20 (Sunday, October 21, Manila time).
Six different teams go into this round of games separated by just two points at the top of a tight early LaLiga table, as recent weeks provided numerous shocks and fantastic entertainment in one of the most exciting starts to a season in many years.
Surprise package Sevilla has jumped to the top of the standings with a run of 4 consecutive victories, helped along the way by Portuguese striker Andre Silva's 7 goals.
Meanwhile Barça has slipped to second after taking just 3 points from its last 4 LaLiga games. The Catalans expect to return to their winning ways at the Camp Nou, however, where the Andalusians have not taken a point in the league since 2010-11.
Third-placed Atletico Madrid has been moving impressively up through the gears in recent weeks, but Diego Simeone’s men face a tricky trip to Villarreal, which has come out on top in this fixture in each of the last 3 seasons, on Saturday evening.
The games start Friday evening, with fourth-placed Alaves aiming to continue its historic start to the campaign when it visits Celta Vigo, which also needs a victory after some recent setbacks.
Saturday’s action begins with Julen Lopetegui's fifth-placed Real Madrid looking for a first win in 4 LaLiga games at home to Levante, which remains optimistic of an upset with last season’s draw at the Santiago Bernabeu fresh in the players' minds.
Espanyol is the sixth team going into the weekend with a chance to end it top of the pile, although that would require a big victory on Sunday afternoon away at Huesca, which will be highly motivated following the appointment of new manager Francisco Rodriguez.
Saturday afternoon also sees Valencia hoping to continue its recent upturn in form at Mestalla against Leganes, which won two of its last 3 LaLiga games prior to the international break.
Sunday kicks off with a Madrid derby as Rayo Vallecano hosts Getafe, with both teams having used the last fortnight to work on some issues from the opening weeks.
The action then moves to the Basque country, as Eibar hosts local rival Athletic Bilbao at Ipurua in another clash of sides which have had inconsistent starts to the new campaign.
Sunday’s late game sees in-form Real Valladolid, flying after 3 straight wins, visit Real Betis, whose own run of excellent results was ended by Atletico just before the break.
The weekend concludes Monday evening with Real Sociedad looking for a first victory at its newly-renovated Anoeta stadium. The visitors this time around are Girona, which boasts the league’s top scorer in Cristhian Stuani (8 goals) and an unbeaten record away from home so far in 2018-19. – Rappler.com