Preview: Atletico play Levante again as Barca face Cadiz


MADRID, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) — It will be ‘Groundhog Day’ for Atletico Madrid and Levante in the 24th round of matches in La Liga played this weekend, while Real Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla look to keep their title chances alive.

The weekend gets under way on Friday night as Betis look to continue the form that has taken them to the verge of a place in Europe at home to Getafe, whose coach Jose Bordalas is suspended after being sent off last weekend and who could lose his job if Getafe lose again.

Elche fans will hope the return of Fran Escriba as coach will inspire them to their first win since October against fourth from bottom Eibar in a vital battle to avoid relegation.

Atletico Madrid saw their lead at the top extend to six points, but they dropped two as they were held to a 1-1 draw away to Levante on Wednesday night in a game held over from the second round of games of the season. Now the two teams go head-to-head again barely three days later in the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.

Levante showed on Wednesday that they are a disciplined and talented side and Atletico will have to show more guile in attack if they are to avoid dropping any more points. Coach Diego Simeone will hope the return of Joao Felix after COVID-19 will provide more firepower up front.

Real Madrid will be hoping Levante can do them a favor ahead of their game away to third from bottom Valladolid. Real Madrid are still without Sergio Ramos, Eden Hazard and Dani Carvajal and coach Zinedine Zidane will have to think about some squad rotations ahead of their return to Europe next week.

Saturday also sees Valencia entertain Celta Vigo with the home side needing points to lift themselves clear of danger against a rival that has the triple attacking threat of Iago Aspas, Santi Mina (who spent time at Valencia) and Brais Mendez.

Barcelona are first into action on Sunday when they host Cadiz, who lost 4-0 at home to Athletic Club on Monday and seems to have gone into freefall conceding 15 goals in four games after a positive start to the season which saw them win at home to Barca.

Barca are still reeling after their Champions League humiliation 4-1 at home to Paris Saint Germain on Tuesday night and Sunday will be as much as test of their personality as their talent in an empty Camp Nou.

Real Sociedad have returned to form with consecutive wins, but may feel the efforts of Thursday’s Europa League tie against Manchester United when they entertain relegation threatened Alaves in a Basque derby.

Bottom of the table Huesca are at home to Granada and will hope to take advantage of tired legs after their visitors face Napoli on Thursday.

Villarreal also play in the Europa League and have little recovery time ahead of their visit to face a confident Athletic Club, who are led by former Villarreal boss Marcelino Garcia Toral.

Villarreal have slipped to sixth after failing to win any of their last six games, while coach Unai Emery is suspended after being sent off at the end of last weekend’s defeat to Betis.

The round of matches ends on Monday when Sevilla look to maintain their title options with a difficult visit to an improving Osasuna. Enditem


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