LaLiga Matchday 12: Barca face Mestalla meeting with Valencia
Barcelona's Champions League campaign ended in failure — but they continue to impress in LaLiga.
The Blaugrana exited Europe's elite competition in midweek, after Inter Milan swatted Viktoria Plzen aside to secure knockout qualification.
However, they will be chasing a third consecutive league win at Valencia this weekend, following their 4-0 demolition of Athletic Bilbao on Matchday 11.
Elsewhere, leaders Real Madrid host Girona on Sunday, top-four hopefuls Real Sociedad and Real Betis go head-to-head and Atletico Madrid will hope to bounce back from their continental elimination by beating Cadiz.
Game of the week: Valencia vs Barcelona (Saturday, 8pm)
A trip to Valencia could be the perfect tonic for Barcelona's European woes.
The Catalan giants have only lost one of their previous 15 league visits to the Mestalla (won seven, drawn seven) and have picked up maximum points from their last three meetings with Los Che.
Xavi's men will certainly be confident about not conceding — they have kept nine clean sheets in their 11 LaLiga games this season, which is more than any other team in the competition's history at this stage of the campaign.
And Barca have also been in sublime form at the other end of the pitch, with Robert Lewandowski netting a remarkable 12 goals in 11 league fixtures.
Real Madrid vs Girona (Sunday, 3.15pm)
Real Madrid will be flying the flag for Spain in 2023 — they are the only LaLiga team to have reached the Champions League knockout rounds.
Los Blancos are also leading the way domestically too, though Carlo Ancelotti's side will need to watch out for a potential banana skin this weekend.
The table-toppers have lost two of their four league meetings with Girona, which is their highest losing percentage in the competition (50%).
However, the visitors are yet to record a win on the road in 2022-23 and the capital has not been a happy hunting ground for them in recent times — they have lost all of their last three visits to Madrid.
Real Sociedad vs Real Betis (Sunday, 8pm)
Both these sides suffered defeat on Matchday 11 — but Real Sociedad will fancy their chances against inconsistent Real Betis.
Los Verdiblancos have won just one of their last five LaLiga fixtures (drawn two, lost two), while the hosts' loss at Real Valladolid last Saturday snapped a run of eight consecutive victories in all competitions.
Betis are unbeaten in their last five encounters with Imanol Alguacil's men though, not conceding in any of their last three meetings.
But they will need to watch out for Sociedad's creator-in-chief Mikel Merino. He has conjured four assists in the competition this term, with only Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele (five) managing more.
Cadiz vs Atletico Madrid (Saturday, 3.15pm)
Atletico Madrid will be desperate to get back to winning ways on Saturday, after their continental hopes were crushed in dramatic fashion.
Yannick Carrasco missed a stoppage-time penalty in midweek, as a 2-2 draw with Bayer Leverkusen sent Atleti tumbling out of the Champions League.
However, they should have a good chance of bouncing back against Cadiz, who have failed to win any of their last seven home league games against the Colchoneros (drawn three, lost four).
And Diego Simeone's unit have been imperious on the road in LaLiga, collecting a sensational 16 points from the 18 available in 2022-23 (won five, drawn one).
Athletic Bilbao vs Villarreal (Sunday, 5.30pm)
It has been a tumultuous week for Villarreal, with manager Unai Emery leaving the Yellow Submarine to join Premier League outfit Aston Villa.
He has been replaced in the dugout by former Barcelona boss Quique Setien, who will be hoping to compound Athletic Bilbao's poor run of form.
The Basque club are without a win in four games but have a solid record against Sunday's visitors.
Los Leones have avoided defeat in their most recent seven meetings with Villarreal (won two, drawn five), while the Castellon club have struggled on the road this season — failing to win or score during their last five away LaLiga matches (drawn two, lost three).
The weekend's other games
Mallorca vs Espanyol (Friday, 8pm)
Almeria vs Celta Vigo (Saturday, 1pm)
Sevilla vs Rayo Vallecano (Saturday, 5.30pm)
Osasuna vs Real Valladolid (Sunday, 1pm)
Elche vs Getafe (Monday, 8pm)
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