There is a three-way tie at the top of LaLiga ahead of this weekend’s 14th round of the competition.
Atletico Madrid lost their unbeaten record last weekend with defeat away to city rivals Real Madrid in the derby, but Diego Simeone’s side remain in first place with just 11 games played.
Real Sociedad lie second with the same points total, but the Basques have played 14 matches already and lost 2-1 at Barcelona in midweek.
Also on 26 points in third, Real Madrid have won eight games and Zinedine Zidane’s side moved level with the leaders thanks to a 3-1 win at home to Athletic Club on Tuesday night.
Madrid and Villarreal (in fourth with 22 points) have played 13 fixtures. Barcelona, up to fifth after beating Real Sociedad, have 20 points from their 12 games so far. Sevilla lie sixth with 19 from 11.
LaLiga Game of the Weekend: Barcelona vs Valencia
Barcelona have lost four fixtures so far in LaLiga this term, but only one of those came at Camp Nou.
Ronald Koeman’s side have won their last four league matches at home, since losing the Clasico to Real Madrid in October, and will be favourites to beat an inconsistent Valencia on Saturday.
Valencia are without a win in LaLiga since surprisingly thrashing Real Madrid 4-1 in early November and the Mestalla outfit needed extra time to overcome fourth-tier Terrassa in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday night.
Despite their poor recent record, Valencia often raise their game for fixtures against Barcelona and will be looking to improve on last season’s 5-2 loss at Camp Nou.
Javi Gracia’s side are currently down in 12th place, six points behind Barca, having played one more match.
Rest of the Round
The 14th round of LaLiga kicks off on Friday night as 13th-placed Athletic Club host second-to-bottom Huesca, with just three points separating the two teams ahead of the match at San Mames.
Atletico Madrid will look to return to winning ways at home to Elche (14th) in Saturday’s early game, with Diego Simeone’s side well beaten by fierce rivals Real Madrid in a 2-0 loss at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano last weekend.
And after Barcelona’s game against Valencia in the afternoon, third-placed Real Sociedad will aim to bounce back from defeat at Camp Nou on Wednesday with a win at Levante (in 18th).
Levante also lost narrowly at Barcelona in their last league game, but thrashed Tercera Division side Racing Murcia 5-0 in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.
Bottom-of-the-table Osasuna are at home to Villarreal at the same time, with the Pamplona-based side seeking to end a dismal streak which has brought just one point in their last six league games. Both teams had emphatic 6-0 wins away to lower-league sides in the Copa del Rey in midweek.
Saturday concludes with Sevilla (sixth, with four wins in their last five in LaLiga) at home to struggling Real Valladolid (just above the drop zone in 17th).
Celta Vigo (ninth) host Deportivo Alaves on Sunday, with just two points separating the northern sides. Later, seventh-placed Granada meet Real Betis (10th) in an Andalusian derby with just two points between those two as well.
Cadiz, so impressive on their return to LaLiga and currently in eighth, are at home to misfiring Getafe (in 16th), with Real Madrid in action at Eibar in Sunday’s late game.
Eden Hazard could feature in that match after missing Madrid’s last three league games through injury. In the Belgian’s absence, Zidane’s side have won all three of their fixtures in LaLiga.
LaLiga Player to Watch: Frenkie de Jong – Barcelona – £0.77
It is fair to say that Frenkie de Jong has not lived up to the high expectations so far at Barcelona following his move from Ajax last year, but the Dutch midfielder may be starting to benefit from working with a coach who knows him well.
Koeman said in the summer that De Jong had not been used correctly by Barca and the former Netherlands boss appears to be getting more from his compatriot following a slow start this term.
De Jong was excellent in Barca’s 2-1 win at home to Real Sociedad on Wednesday night and scored the winning goal in that match.
It was a result that looks to have kick-started Barca’s hopes in LaLiga and De Jong’s revival could be just what the Catalans need to challenge consistently following an indifferent few weeks for the club at home and in Europe.