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Friday, March 31, 2023

LaLiga: A Weekend of Direct Duels as Sevilla Host Real Madrid

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Matchday 32 takes place this weekend and several direct duels are coming up that could have a significant impact on the final standings of the 2021/22 LaLiga Santander season.

The first of these clashes between teams that are close to each other in the table comes on Friday with sixth-placed Real Sociedad hosting fifth-placed Real Betis, while there is also a battle at the top between Sevilla and Real Madrid as well as two relegation six-pointers.

Read Also: Ancelotti applauds Bernabeu fans in Real Madrid’s Champions League comeback

The game between Real Sociedad and Real Betis on Friday night is so important because whoever wins it will place themselves in an excellent position to compete for Champions League qualification, while the losing team will be left behind. A draw would hamper both of these teams’ top-four hopes, so we should expect both outfits to play ambitious football, something they have become known for in any case under Imanol Alguacil and Manuel Pellegrini.

Saturday’s slate of fixtures begins with Elche vs RCD Mallorca, which is a huge game for the relegation battle. Both these sides are currently hovering just above the relegation zone, so neither is safe from the threat of the drop, making the points on offer here so valuable. Bottom-placed Deportivo Alavés then host Rayo Vallecano in another game with major implications for the relegation fight, as the Basque side seek their first win under new coach Julio Velázquez.

Valencia and Osasuna meet on Saturday evening in what should be an even game, given that they’re currently on 42 and 41 points respectively. Yet another competitive game should then follow when Getafe host Villarreal on Saturday night. Although this is a clash between the teams that are currently seventh-top and seventh-bottom, Getafe will be confident of achieving a positive result since they haven’t lost any of their past 10 at home, winning seven and drawing three of those games.

Another relegation six-pointer kicks off Sunday’s action, with 16th-placed Granada hosting 19th-placed Levante. Led by José Luis Morales, the away side just put in an excellent performance as they lost to Barcelona last weekend, but there were positive signs for the Granotas and they will look to carry that on this weekend.

Atlético Madrid are back in action on Sunday afternoon when Espanyol visit the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, and Diego Simeone’s side know they need the three points after slipping up last weekend against Mallorca. They currently sit fourth but have the likes of Real Sociedad and Real Betis breathing down their necks in pursuit of that final Champions League spot.

The LaLiga Santander action then moves to Bilbao, where Athletic Club will face off against Celta. The team from Galicia won this fixture last year with goals from club legends Hugo Mallo and Iago Aspas and will aim to do so again to end a run of three consecutive away defeats.

Then, at 21:00 CEST on Sunday, there is a huge game at the top of the LaLiga Santander table with leaders Real Madrid visiting Sevilla.

With the Andalusian side currently 12 points behind the team from the capital, they will be targeting a win that can cut the gap and put pressure on Carlo Ancelotti’s unit. Given that Sevilla are the only team in the division yet to lose a home league game this campaign, there is the confidence that this might become a night to remember for the home crowd at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán.

The final game of the matchday takes place at Camp Nou, where Barcelona will host Cádiz on Monday night. Xavi’s side have now won seven LaLiga Santander matches in a row and will look to put on a show for their fanbase. With Pedri, Ousmane Dembélé and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all in top form right now, Cádiz will have to be at their best to try to stop this all-conquering Barça attack.

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