LaLiga Santander enters week 28 with leaders, Barcelona, facing a tricky trip to Real Betis while three Nigerians are also set to be involved in a weekend packed with new beginnings at both ends of the table.
With 11 games to go, Barcelona hold a seven-point advantage at the top of the table but are aware that second placed Atletico Madrid and their fiercest rivals, Real Madrid, are waiting to pounce on any possible slip ups.
It won’t be an easy game for Lionel Messi and Barcelona this Sunday at the Benito Villamarin against a Betis side, managed by Quique Setien, who are the last side to defeat the Blaugrana following a thrilling 4-3 victory at Camp Nou last November.
However, before the game at Villamarin, week 28 in the La Liga kicks off on Friday evening at San Sebastien, home of Real Sociedad, eho welcome Levante and their Nigerian star, Moses Simon, in a game involving two mid-table teams hoping to bounce back from their recent defeats and maintain the gap between them are those in the relegation zone.
Simon’s Levante have lost their last three LaLiga matches while their hosts are on a two match losing streak.
On Saturday, it is an early kickoff as Huesca welcome Alaves to the Estadio El Alcoraz. The hosts may still be bottom of the LaLiga Santander standings but recent performances have given them a real chance of survival. The Aragonese side will be tested Saturday lunchtime at El Alcoraz though, as visitors Alaves are themselves unbeaten in five LaLiga games and still in the hunt for an unlikely Champions League qualification.
Thereafter, Real Madrid begin life for the second time under Zinedine Zidane against struggling RC Celta Vigo. The arrival of Zidane, who won the LaLiga back in the 2017/2018 season, has lifted everyone at the Bernabeu. For their visitors, Celta, things are not going smoothly as they continue to battle for points and survival.
Despite having a new manager, Fran Escriba, who debuted last weekend with a defeat to Betis, the away side will need something of a miracle to avoid defeat a the Bernabeu.
Saturday evening, second-placed Atletico may have cut the gap at the top before then, with Antoine Griezmann and his team visiting Athletic Club’s San Mames on Saturday afternoon. Although Atletico and Athletic were ‘sibling clubs’ through the first decades of their history, the Bilbao side are aiming for Europa League qualification next term and have not lost at home in LaLiga since October.
The day ends with Leganes, who have Super Eagles’s defender, Kenneth Omeruo, in their books taking on Girona at home.
Omeruo has been a constant feature for Leganes and will be expected to start in the late kickoff on Saturday against Girona.
While both sides have opened enough gap between them and the danger zone, their managers, Mauricio Pellegrino and Eusebio Sacristan, will know it is not yet time for their men to rest on their oars.
Sunday’s schedule starts at Ipurua, with in-form Eibar aiming for a fourth home win in five LaLiga home games against a Real Valladolid team who need to improve on the road having lost each of their last four away matches.
Sevilla’s away record is also a problem with zero points from their last five road trips, but the sixth placed Andalusians will be aiming to change that on Sunday afternoon when they visit an Espanyol team who have picked up seven points from their last three at the RCDE Stadium.
Then comes a real relegation battle at the Estadio de la Ceramica, where the third Nigerian, Samuel Chukwueze, would be hoping to help his 17th placed Villarreal side, who are on the up after the Europa League heroic and last week’s crucial derbi win at Levante, when they host a Rayo Vallecano side really in need of something to change after six consecutive LaLiga defeats have left them deep into the relegation rat race.
Then, there is also a lot on the line at Mestalla later on Sunday afternoon, with seventh placed Valencia aiming to close in on fourth placed Getafe, with a sure to be closely fought game also bringing together two of LaLiga’s most inform strikers in Rodrigo Moreno and Jaime Mata.