LaLiga Matchday 10: El Clasico takes centre stage
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El Clasico headlines Matchday 10 in LaLiga as arch-rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid clash in one of the biggest games of the season.
Elsewhere, Real Sociedad bid to hold on to top spot at champions Atletico Madrid and surprise package Rayo Vallecano will look to keep their impressive start going away to Real Betis.
Game of the week: Barcelona vs Real Madrid (Sunday, 3.15pm)
Where else to begin but with one of the greatest rivalries in world football? Camp Nou plays host to the first El Clasico of the season on Sunday afternoon.
For all the talk of Barcelona being in crisis — and it is true the Blaugrana have made an underwhelming start to the season, winning only four of their first eight games — victory will see them leapfrog Real, with just two points separating second and eighth in the table ahead of Matchday 10.
Los Blancos have won the last three LaLiga encounters — their longest such winning streak since 1978 — while Barca have not gone more than their current four without a win since a five-game stretch between 2006 and 2008.
Should he find the net here, LaLiga top scorer Karim Benzema will move into double figures.
In contrast, Barca have only scored 14 goals in total, four of which came as they beat Real Sociedad 4-2 in their opening game of the campaign.
Read on as we run the rule over the other big games to keep an eye on.
Atletico Madrid vs Real Sociedad (Sunday, 8pm)
Surprise leaders Sociedad will look to make it nine matches unbeaten against Atletico in Sunday’s late kick-off.
The visitors have not lost in the league since their opening-weekend defeat at Barcelona — they have taken 20 points from the last 24 available in LaLiga, keeping six clean sheets in nine games in the competition.
Atletico have made a solid start to the defence of their title, winning five, drawing two and losing one of their first eight games, and Diego Simeone’s outfit have only lost one of their last 34 LaLiga home fixtures.
The Rojiblancos are unbeaten in eight home meetings with Sociedad — they have won seven of those encounters, with the most recent a 2-1 victory in May.
Sevilla vs Levante (Sunday, 1pm)
Sevilla will go level on points at the top if they win and Sociedad lose — and Julen Lopetegui’s team are bound to fancy their chances against third-bottom Levante, who are without a win and have failed to score in their last four games.
In fact, the visitors are on a miserable run of 17 matches without a win, stretching back to April.
Only Granada (60) have mustered fewer shots than Levante’s 67 so far, so it is little wonder they have managed just six goals in nine games — fewer than any other side in the division bar bottom two Alaves and Getafe.
Sevilla may have found the net just 11 times themselves — of teams in the top half, only Athletic Bilbao have a lower goals return (seven) — but their watertight defence has restricted opponents to a league-low three goals and 4.5 expected goals against.
Real Betis vs Rayo Vallecano (Sunday, 5.30pm)
Both of these sides could break into the top four with the right set of results this weekend.
And both are in decent shape, having lost one of their last six and seven games respectively.
Newcomers Rayo have been LaLiga’s surprise package, taking 16 points from a possible 27, although they have lost three of their five away fixtures and failed to score on each occasion.
No team in the division has registered more attempts this term than Los Verdiblancos’ 146 but only Real Madrid (22) have scored more than Rayo this term (15).
This weekend’s other games
Osasuna vs Granada (Friday, 8pm)
Valencia vs Real Mallorca (Saturday, 1pm)
Cadiz vs Alaves (Saturday, 3.15pm)
Elche vs Espanyol (Saturday, 5.30pm)
Athletic Bilbao vs Villarreal (Saturday, 8pm)
Getafe vs Celta Vigo (Monday, 8pm)