Madrid, Spain | XINHUA | The eighth round of matches in La Liga sees Real Madrid have a relatively straightforward looking home game while Barcelona travels to Vitoria to play Alaves, who has two wins all season. Here are some things to look out for this weekend in Spain
1 Which Real Madrid will show up against Huesca?
Real Madrid’s 3-1 win away to FC Barcelona last weekend looked as if it would see them turn a corner in terms of both confidence and results, but Zinedine Zidane’s side slipped back to old ways in the Champions League on Tuesday when they needed two late goals to scramble a draw away to Borussia Monchengladbach. Once again, they were wayward in defense and failed to create enough in attack until both central defenders were pushed forward in the closing minutes.
Huesca, who last week lost 4-1 away to Real Sociedad, should offer some relief, and Zidane now has Eden Hazard available after injury, but will his side finally show some consistency in the attack?
2 And what will Barca do?
Barca was poor in the Clasico against Real Madrid and then saw how club president Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned on the eve of their Champions League game away to Juventus. Oddly the resignation of an unpopular President seemed to give the team a lift as they produced arguably their best performance of the campaign with a 2-0 win away.
Saturday sees Barca travel to play Alaves, who has so far not impressed under coach Pablo Machin. However, Alaves did win away to Valladolid last week, and in Deyverson, Lucas Perez and Joselu they have three dangerous strikers.
Barca looked more aggressive with Miralem Pjanic replacing Sergio Busquets in midfield on Wednesday, and Ronald Koeman will have to decide if the time has come to ease down on Busquets’ first-team duties.
3 Difficult times at Valencia
Valencia coach Javi Gracia was only stopped from resigning in the last international break due to his anger over a lack of signings when he was told he would have to pay three million euros in compensation. Since then, midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia has also criticized club President, Peter Lim and Valencia have lost three consecutive games and seen central defender Mouchtar Diakhaby fall victim to a serious knee injury. Given Valencia’s current situation, nobody will want to play Getafe, who is smart in attack, well organized in defense, and willing to do anything to win a game.
Valencia still has some quality players in Carlos Soler, Daniel Wass Gaya, and Maxi Gomez, but this game will test their morale as much as anything.
4 Time running out for Garitano
Athletic Club Bilbao’s 1-0 defeat to Osasuna last weekend was painful. It came from the penalty spot in Osasuna’s only chance in the game and because it saw coach Gaizka Garitano once again pay the price for his conservative nature. As has happened in other defeats in this season and last season, Garitano seemed happy to settle for a draw rather than making a positive change to look for a win and, in the end, finished with nothing.
Sevilla will be a difficult rival for Saturday for Athletic and another defeat – especially if the same tactical errors accompany it could mean it is the former player’s last game in charge.