MADRID, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) — The La Liga returns after the international break with both FC Barcelona and Real Madrid visiting the Basque region. Here are some things to look out for in Matchday 4 in the League:
1. New Anoeta, same story for Barca?
FC Barcelona are the first visitors to Real Sociedad’s (partially) renovated Anoeta Stadium and hopes are high in San Sebastian that Real Sociedad can maintain their recent good performances against the league champions. Last season’s 4-2 win for Barca was their first league triumph in Anoeta in 10 years and even then they had to come back from 2-0 down before assuring the points.
The home side have several players out through injury, but although Barca have kicked off the season with three wins, they have at times looked vulnerable in defense and with an incredible atmosphere in the new-look ground, this will be another test of their credentials.
2. Real Madrid to explain Berizzo’s system in San Mames
Real Madrid’s trip to face Athletic Club Bilbao is another classic La Liga encounter and comes as Madrid are finding their feet under Julen Lopetegui who has imposed a more possession based game on his side.
Athletic are still adapting to new coach Eduardo Berizzo and have not played for 19 days after the postponement of their trip to play Rayo Vallecano.
The former Sevilla and Celta boss has used a system with just one holding midfield (Dani Garcia) and although Athletic remain unbeaten they were badly exposed on the break against Levante and Huesca, which means unless they have tightened things up in the past three weeks, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio could enjoy themselves in San Mames on Saturday night.
3. Will the real Atletico Madrid stand up?
So far it has been a disappointing start to the new campaign from Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid. After beating Real Madrid in the European Supercup many expect them as serious title contenders, but so far they have just four points (their worst ever start under the Argentinean coach).
Perhaps more worrying is not just the lack of points, but the way they have played: Atletico have looked uncharacteristically sloppy in defense and failed to fire in attack, perhaps as a result of Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa’s involvement in the World Cup.
Eibar returned to form at home to Real Sociedad a fortnight ago and are always tough to beat, but this is a game where Atletico need to find their old virtues otherwise Barca and Real Madrid will soon be out of sight.
4. Time to start collecting points for Leganes and Villarreal
Saturday’s game in Leganes’ Butarque Stadium is a key match for both the home side and rivals Villarreal as both sit in the relegation zone with just one point from their first three matches of the campaign.
Given the huge turnover of players at Leganes it is not surprising they have had a slow start under new coach Manuel Pellegrino and despite the results they have looked reasonably solid, but Villarreal will have been expecting better.
The club from north of Valencia are missing midfielder Rodri, who joined Atletico Madrid, but with the Europa League about to kick off and the problems of playing two games a week, they need to get some points on the board sooner rather than later.