The midweek round of goals and dramatic LaLiga Santander action is over, but there’s another dose of top-flight Spanish football coming up straight away as Matchday 12 takes place this weekend. There are several fascinating games, from Valencia CF and Villarreal CF’s derby to FC Barcelona’s first match of the post-Ronald Koeman era to the first Basque Derby of the season. It promises to be a thrilling weekend of football in Spain’s top flight.
The first match of the round is Real Madrid’s trip to take on Elche CF at the Estadio Manuel Martínez Valero, a stadium where the Franjiverdes held the Blancos to a draw last season. That is the early game on Saturday, at 1pm, with Carlo Ancelotti’s side looking to get back to winning ways after being held to a midweek draw at home to CA Osasuna. Meanwhile, Elche CF will hope to catch Real Madrid napping in this early kick-off.
The next fixture is a clash between Sevilla FC and CA Osasuna, with the Andalusians boasting a 100 per cent record at home so far this season and the Rojillos having won four and drawn one of their five away matches so far. It’ll be interesting to see whether the excellent home record or away record is extended.
A big derby match then follows, with Valencia CF taking on Villarreal CF at Mestalla on Saturday evening. These two clubs have had disappointing starts to the season, so will be targeting a win in this hotly anticipated Valencian Community clash to jumpstart their campaigns.
FC Barcelona then return to action at 8pm on Saturday night for their first match since the sacking of Ronald Koeman. That came when the Blaugrana lost a second match in a row in midweek, falling to Rayo Vallecano after also losing ElClásico three days earlier. The fans at the Camp Nou will expect a response from the players, now led by caretaker coach Sergi Barjuán, as they host a Deportivo Alavés side who have won their past two games. There is great expectation as a new era kicks off at Barça.
On Sunday, Cádiz CF will look to get back to winning ways after a series of disappointing results when they host RCD Mallorca in the first match of the day. Likewise, champions Atlético Madrid are hoping to bounce back from two 2-2 draws in a row when they host a high-flying Real Betis side that actually come into this fixture with more points. Diego Simeone has enjoyed eight wins and one draw from the nine times he has coached in this fixture, although he’ll have to experience his 10th home match against Real Betis from the stands due to a suspension.
Getafe CF then take on RCD Espanyol in southern Madrid, with the Azulones still searching for their first victory of the season. They came so close to claiming it in midweek, only for a 97th-minute goal to deny them the three points and leave them with just a point from their trip to Granada CF. Against one of his former clubs, new Geta coach Quique Sánchez Flores will hope to achieve that much-needed first victory.
Then comes the game that takes centre stage in Matchday 12, the first Basque Derby of the season. It’s Real Sociedad vs Athletic Club under the Reale Arena floodlights, with so much on the line given that La Real come into this fixture as league leaders. Athletic Club will be determined to take three points from their rivals’ home to knock them off top spot and dent the Txuri-Urdin title challenge, as they did back in 2002/03, the last time Real Sociedad mounted a serious title challenge. This fixture is always special and this Sunday’s game should be no different.
On Monday, there are two more matches in Spain’s top flight, with Rayo Vallecano looking to keep up their 100 percent home record in the first of them. The team from Vallecas have won all five of their matches played so far in the Madrid neighbourhood, including Wednesday’s victory over FC Barcelona, and now they’ll host RC Celta Vigo this Monday evening. That’s before Levante UD vs Granada CF concludes the matchday, with both these sides entering the weekend inside the bottom four and in need of some valuable LaLiga Santander points.