Matchday 14 of LaLiga Santander is here and it could be one of the most interesting rounds yet, with squad depth set to be tested following a midweek in which all 20 teams were either in Copa del Rey or LaLiga action. With a midweek Matchday 15 coming up too, coaches may have to start rotating even more and that can often produce some outlier results.
The round’s action begins on Friday night as Athletic Club welcome SD Huesca to San Mamés. The Basques’ coach Gaizka Garitano has been under pressure in the local media in recent weeks, but he has very fond memories of this fixture as his first match in charge of the side from Bilbao was against Huesca, a 4-0 victory in the Copa del Rey just over two years ago. A similar result would be most welcome for Garitano this time, but the visitors did just secure their first league win of the season last weekend.
On Saturday, it’s a very Valencian day of football as all four of LaLiga Santander’s Valencian Community clubs feature across the first four fixtures. First off, it’s Elche CF’s trip to the capital to face an Atlético de Madrid side looking to bounce back from last weekend’s Madrid Derby defeat, their first domestic loss of the season. The match has a particularly Latin, and specifically Argentine, flavour, as both coaches – Atleti’s Diego Simeone and Elche’s Jorge Almiron – hail from the South American country.
Saturday’s second fixture sees FC Barcelona host Valencia CF, a classic fixture of Spanish football and one that has produced a lot of goals in recent times. There have been 23 goals across the past five league meetings between these two sides at the Camp Nou, with three wins for Barça, one for Los Che and one draw. Making this year’s edition extra intriguing is the fact that Ronald Koeman will be going up against the only other club he has managed in Spanish football, a club where he won a Copa del Rey but struggled in the league back in 2008.
At 6.30pm CET on Saturday evening, there are two fixtures at the same time and both also include a Valencian side. Levante UD host Real Sociedad at the Ciutat de València for a duel between two teams who have made a habit of drawing games in recent weeks. Simultaneously, bottom-placed CA Osasuna host Villarreal CF and will be determined to take some points off Unai Emery’s injury-plagued squad.
The Saturday night fixture then sees Sevilla FC take on Real Valladolid at home, a potential banana skin fixture for the Andalusian club with the visitors in resurgent form. It’s four wins from the past six for the club led by Ronaldo Nazario, meaning they’re in their best form of the season so far. They’ve also just seen record signing Shon Weissman open his scoring account and thrashed lower league side Cantolagua 5-0 in the Copa del Rey in midweek. Valladolid are feeling confident right now and will head to the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan confident they can spring a surprise.
Sunday’s opening match brings another opportunity to enjoy Eduardo Coudet’s high-flying RC Celta side. They’ve been excellent since the Argentine took over as coach, winning three on the bounce and most recently thrashing Cádiz CF at home, and now they have another home game as they welcome D. Alavés to Galicia.
An Andalusian derby follows, with Granada CF taking on Real Betis in a regional rivalry that is all the more important this year with both sides challenging for a European qualification spot. The Matchday 14 action then stays in Andalusia for the Sunday evening fixture between Cádiz CF and Getafe CF. With the visitors having failed to win any of their past seven LaLiga Santander fixtures, this is a huge game for José Bordalás’ side as they take on the team that overcame FC Barcelona in their last home match. With both outfits playing a similar style of football too, this could be a fascinating tactical battle.
The weekend’s action is then rounded off on Sunday night with SD Eibar vs Real Madrid. Fans in Eibar still have fond memories of their 3-0 victory over Los Blancos two seasons ago, while the 4-0 home loss to Zinedine Zidane’s men from last season isn’t quite so fun for the locals to recall. It’s difficult to know which version of Real Madrid will turn up for this one, but there could be goals if the capital city side manage to take advantage of SD Eibar’s many absences in defence. And, if Real Madrid do win, they might even finish Matchday 14 top of the table.