Matchday 13 Preview: LaLiga Santander Braced For First Madrid Derby Of Season

epa08185546 Atletico Madrid's Yannick Carrasco (R) enters the pitch in substitution for Vitolo (L) during the Spanish LaLiga soccer match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, Spain, 01 February 2020. EPA/Rodrigo Jimenez

Atlético de Madrid have just gone top of LaLiga Santander, just ahead of perhaps their toughest test of the season: a visit to city rivals and reigning champions Real Madrid on Saturday night.

But the matchday doesn’t start there.

Friday night sees Real Valladolid welcome CA Osasuna to the José Zorrilla in what is an early season six-pointer at the bottom end of the table.

Valladolid are currently 19th on 10 points in the LaLiga Santander table, while Osasuna sit just one point ahead in 18th. The visitors haven’t won a game since October, and will be keen to spring a surprise against a Valladolid side who’ve hit form in the last month or so after a rough start.

Four top-flight fixtures follow on Saturday, the first a classic of Spanish football as two of the country’s oldest clubs square off. This will be the 171st time that Valencia CF meet Athletic Club in LaLiga Santander. The head-to-head record is fairly even; Los Che have won 67, the Basques 62 and there have been 41 draws. With these two clubs level on 13 points in the table right now, it promises to be a competitive clash.

On Saturday afternoon, Getafe CF host Sevilla FC and it could be a tough one for the home team. They lost 2-0 and 3-0 to Sevilla last term and are currently on a six-match winless streak. Also on a winless run are SD Huesca who have yet to win a game this season, something they’ll be looking to change when they welcome D. Alavés to El Alcoraz on Saturday evening.

Then, at 9pm on Saturday evening, it’s the biggest fixture of this matchday: Real Madrid vs Atlético Madrid face off at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano.

It’ll be the first Madrid Derby held at this stadium, a ground more accustomed to hosting matches between these clubs’ B teams. However, this derby is potentially one of the most important in several seasons as Atleti look to stay top of the standings.

A win for Diego Simeone’s men would put them nine points ahead of their rivals and with a game in hand too. The stakes, therefore, will be high as Sergio Ramos and co. try to stop João Félix, LaLiga Santander’s November Player of the Month.

Sunday’s slate of four fixtures gets going with another derby, this time of the Basque variety as Real Sociedad host SD Eibar.

With Eibar in their best form of the season and boasting the fourth-best away record in the division, this certainly won’t be easy for a Real Sociedad team fresh from a tough Europa League tie against Napoli in midweek. La Real, though, may welcome back their Eibar-born captain Mikel Oyarzabal from injury for this one, so this is a very tough one to call.

After the excitement of that Basque derby, it’s Real Betis vs Villarreal CF. Not only is this a match between two clubs with European qualification aspirations, but it’ll also see Manuel Pellegrini take on his former club.

The Chilean coach spent five highly-successful seasons at Villarreal between 2004 and 2009 – during which he led the club to the Champions League semi-finals – and will now face the Yellow Submarine with his Real Betis side.

Elche CF vs Granada CF follows on Sunday evening as the former look to continue their bright start to the season.

Granada were the surprise package of the newly promoted teams last season, while Elche are proving many doubters wrong this term and continuing to pick up points by drawing their past four games. Against a Granada side fresh from playing in Greece against PAOK in midweek, this could be a fresh opportunity for them.

In the Sunday night slot, FC Barcelona return to action against Levante UD and will be looking to get over their recent losses to Cádiz and Juventus.

Several teams have already taken points off the Blaugrana this season and Levante will aim to be the next. They’ve certainly got the experience: coach Paco López has beaten Barça three times in the seven matches he has coached against them as Levante boss.

Matchday 13 is then rounded off on Monday night with RC Celta vs Cádiz CF. Both teams come into this game after big wins last round and it promises to be a fascinating tactical battle as new Celta coach Eduardo Coudet pits his attacking brand of football against Álvaro Cervera’s mightily effective counter attack.

These two clubs haven’t met in almost five years, so this will be a fresh fixture to bring Matchday 13 to a close.