LaLiga Santander MD 18 Preview: Atlético, Real Madrid, Barcelona Headline Super Saturday

epa08685043 Real Madrid's Norwegian Martin Odegaard (L) duels for the ball with Real Sociedad's Ander Guevara (R) during the Spanish LaLiga Primera Division soccer match Real Sociedad vs Real Madrid played at Reale Arena stadium, in San Sebastian, northern Spain, 20 September 2020. EPA/Javier Etxezarreta

Following a midweek of cup action, LaLiga Santander returns this weekend with a packed ‘Super Saturday.’

Several huge clubs are in action on Saturday, while there’s an equally intriguing game to get the matchday underway as RC Celta host Villarreal CF on Friday night.

The Galician side have been playing some exhilarating football under new coach Eduardo Coudet, but lost 5-2 in the Copa del Rey in midweek at UD Ibiza and are without the injured Iago Aspas. This makes the visit of the Yellow Submarine a huge challenge and it’ll be very interesting to see how they respond. 

On Saturday, the first of the day’s big fixtures sees Sevilla FC face Real Sociedad at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán. Given that both of these sides have top four aspirations, this is an important head-to-head battle. It also promises to be an entertaining game between two teams with attack-minded philosophies. It was 3-2 to Sevilla FC when this fixture was played last season. Now, La Real will hope they can take the three points.

Next up on Saturday afternoon, is Atlético de Madrid vs Athletic Club. This is a duel between two relatives, as Atleti was founded to be a capital city version of the Basque club over 100 years ago. 

There are more links than just that, such as the presence of Raúl García in the Bilbao team’s ranks. He won the LaLiga Santander title with Atleti back in 2013/14 and now Los Colchoneros are targeting another championship. It won’t be easy against the Basques, though, especially if new coach Marcelino can get them going. 

FC Barcelona are in action next and they know that their visit to Granada CF could be tricky, given that they lost 2-0 at the Nuevo Estadio de Los Cármenes last season. The fact that the Andalusian outfit are only four positions behind Barça in the table also proves that they are not to be underestimated and that they do have what it takes to cause problems for any side. 

The Saturday of big games comes to a close with Real Madrid’s trip to take on CA Osasuna. It’s second-bottom taking on second-top and Real Madrid boast the best away record in the division so far this season, but that doesn’t mean it’s a foregone conclusion that the three points will be heading to the capital.

Osasuna have been battling hard in recent weeks and will be fully motivated as they take to the field beneath the Saturday night lights of their new-look El Sadar Stadium. 

There are four more fixtures to come on Sunday, starting with Levante UD vs SD Eibar. There have been several fun meetings between these two teams in recent years, with a few 2-2s, a 3-3 and a thrilling 4-4 two seasons ago. As Levante captain José Luis Morales goes up against his former club, there could be plenty more goals to come. 

Cádiz CF vs D. Alavés follows and this is an encounter between two of the lowest scoring sides in LaLiga Santander this season, but that doesn’t make it any less intriguing. In fact, this could be one of the most fascinating tactical tussles of the weekend as Álvaro Cervera takes on Pablo Machín. Both coaches are known for having unique tactical setups and we’ll see which one comes out on top when they meet on Sunday. 

Elche CF host Getafe CF after that and the visitors desperately need a positive result. They’ve won just one game from their past 11 and have been sliding down the LaLiga Santander table, while their midweek Copa del Rey exit at the hands of Córdoba CF didn’t help matters either. Elche’s form isn’t much better, but they’ve been earning plaudits for the ambition shown after coming up as a newly promoted side. 

The final Sunday fixture sees Real Valladolid host Valencia CF, with both sides hovering just above the relegation zone. Given that these are two teams with just two clean sheets each so far this season, this could be a match with a lot of goals. Come the end of the season, those goals could turn out to be very important ones in the relegation battle. 

Finally, there’s Monday night action to round off the weekend as SD Huesca take on Real Betis. Intriguingly, it’s a duel between a Huesca side that has the fewest wins so far this season and a Betis team that has the most defeats. As fans tune in on Monday night, they’ll see if something gives one way or the other.