Matchday 25 of the 2020/21 LaLiga Santander season is set to be a momentous one as the top six sides in the standings face off against each other.
Leaders Atlético de Madrid visit sixth-placed Villarreal CF at 9pm on Sunday night, while second-placed Real Madrid host fifth-placed Real Sociedad at the same 9pm time slot on Monday night. Before that, fourth-placed Sevilla FC welcome FC Barcelona, third-placed, to the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán at 4.15pm on Saturday.
All of these matches will have huge implications for the title race and the quest to qualify for European competition. More than that, these games promise to be very entertaining as some of the individual matchups involved are tantalising.
The first of the weekend’s three blockbuster matches is the Saturday afternoon showdown between Sevilla FC and FC Barcelona. These two teams have already met each other twice this season, having played out a 1-1 draw in LaLiga Santander at the Camp Nou in October and having just met in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals at the start of February when Sevilla secured a 2-0 advantage.
Sevilla haven’t finished above the Catalan club in the end-of-season standings since 1969/70, but they have an excellent opportunity to achieve that this year as Julen Lopetegui’s side were ahead of this weekend’s opponents until this Wednesday. The Rojiblancos are in an excellent run of form as they have won their past six matches in league play and haven’t conceded a single goal in the past five of these fixtures.
With Moroocan keeper Bono in goal and with a solid central defensive partnership of Diego Carlos and Jules Koundé, Sevilla have, along with Atleti, the joint-best defensive record in the division with just 16 goals conceded. Barça, though, boast Lionel Messi and there is no team that the Argentine has scored more frequently against in his career than Sevilla, with a mindblowing 37 goals from 41 games. It’ll be thrilling to see who comes out on top.
Villarreal CF vs Atlético de Madrid is the next of the weekend’s heavyweight bouts, a match between two teams desperate to return to winning ways. Villarreal have been struggling of late in LaLiga Santander and are winless in their past six league matches. Atleti, meanwhile have only won one of their past four games and have already dropped the same number of points in the second half of the 2020/21 season as they did in the entirety of the first half.
Atleti dropped points against Villarreal earlier this season when they played out a goalless draw in the Spanish capital. They meet again this weekend knowing it will be a fascinating tactical battle as Unai Emery and Diego Simeone are two of the best coaches in European football. It’ll be interesting to see how this footballing chess match plays out on Sunday night.
The last fixture of Matchday 25 is also one of the best, with Real Madrid hosting Real Sociedad on Monday evening. They played out a 0-0 draw when they met in the Basque Country earlier in the season, but their matches before that had been very entertaining. In their seven previous meetings before this season, there were 4.4 goals per game on average across four Real Madrid wins and three Real Sociedad wins.
Making this showdown even more exciting is the fact that La Real’s Alexander Isak is the most in-form striker in LaLiga Santander right now. The Swedish forward has scored in each of his past six league outings, netting a whopping nine times. With the reigning champions missing several players, especially in defence, Isak will look to take advantage in this match that could significantly influence the title race and the push for Champions League qualification.
While these three matches are so attractive that they’ll take up most of the attention this weekend, there are several other interesting fixtures too. On Friday night, there’s Levante UD vs Athletic Club, another matchup between two teams currently locked in a Copa del Rey semi-final battle.
On Saturday, the SD Eibar vs SD Huesca and Deportivo Alavés vs CA Osasuna games could both be huge in the relegation battle, as could Granada CF vs Elche CF on Sunday as the latter look to build on their bright start to life under Fran Escriba.
There’s also a duel between Getafe CF and Valencia CF on Saturday, a fixture that has been feisty in recent years and that has produced several memorable moments. On Sunday, there’s an Andalusian derby between Cádiz CF and Real Betis, while RC Celta vs Real Valladolid sees the return of Iago Aspas.
Matchday 25 will be packed full of entertainment from start to finish, especially with the head-to-head clashes among the top six on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.