LaLiga: Underfire Koeman sets sight on former club as Barcelona host Valencia 

LaLiga: Underfire Koeman sets sight on former club as Barcelona host Valencia 

LaLiga Santander is back following the international break this weekend with eight fixtures taking place over the course of Saturday, Sunday and Monday. One fixture jumps off the schedule: FC Barcelona hosting Valencia CF at the Camp Nou on Sunday night, a can’t-miss match for many, many reasons. 

Before that, though, the action starts with a fascinating fixture between two clubs who changed their coach during the international pause. Levante UD, who replaced Paco López with Javier Pereira, will face Getafe CF, who have welcomed back Quique Sánchez Flores to take over from Míchel. Logically, both of the new coaches will be hoping to start on the front foot and to lead their struggling clubs out of the relegation zone as soon as possible. This Saturday evening match should therefore be an engrossing affair. 

There is one other match on Saturday night, with Real Sociedad hosting RCD Mallorca with the chance for the Basque side to go top of the LaLiga Santander table. La Real are currently level on points at the top with Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid, neither of whom will play this weekend and whose matches were postponed due to the late return of some of their South American players, meaning that the Txuri Urdin have a unique opportunity in front of them. 

Four of the Matchday 9 fixtures will take place on Sunday, starting with lunchtime kick-off Rayo Vallecano vs Elche CF. For many analysts, these two clubs were among the favourites for relegation ahead of the season, but they have both proved the doubters wrong with excellent starts to the campaign. Rayo Vallecano, in particular, have started phenomenally and, led by star signing Radamel Falcao, have propelled themselves into the European positions. 

Two other teams with European qualification aspirations meet next, with RC Celta welcoming Sevilla FC to Spain’s north-western coast. The Andalusians suffered their first loss of the 2021/22 campaign just before the October international break, so will be looking to scratch that itch when they meet Iago Aspas and co. 

Villarreal CF host CA Osasuna on Sunday evening, with the visitors having started the season really well by taking 14 points from their first eight matches. Villarreal, meanwhile, are the only undefeated team left in LaLiga Santander, but they have only won two of their seven fixtures, drawing the other five. Having made a new signing during the October pause, acquiring free agent Serge Aurier, the Yellow Submarine will be hoping for a boost and another victory for the win column. 

On Sunday night, it’s blockbuster time: FC Barcelona vs Valencia CF at the Camp Nou. For under-pressure Blaugrana coach Ronald Koeman, this meeting with his former club is massive and he’ll hope for a better result than the 2-2 draw these two sides played out last season. Valencia have improved leaps and bounds since then and their new coach José Bordalás even beat Koeman’s Barça side last campaign, when in charge of Getafe, so this won’t be easy for the Catalan side. Over the past six meetings between these historic foes, there have been two wins each and two draws, throwing up an average of 4.5 goals per game, so anything could happen on Sunday night. 

On Monday, there are two more fixtures. The first pits together D. Alavés and Real Betis; home team remain inside the relegation zone but they did win their last match at Mendizorrotza against champions Atlético Madrid in impressive fashion. Against the Verdiblancos, they’ll be hoping for another big scalp.

Next up is a historic match. RCD Espanyol and Cádiz CF haven’t faced each other in league play since 2006, but will finally do so again on Monday night. Having always been in different divisions since then, this is far from a common fixture and it’ll be special when these two sides from opposite ends of Spain take to the same pitch to conclude this weekend’s action.  

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