LaLiga Matchday 26: Barca host Athletic in key top-four clash

Tom Hancock
LiveScore
25/02/202211:30
Adama Traore could be key to Barcelona's hopes of cementing a spot in the top four
Adama Traore could be key to Barcelona's hopes of cementing a spot in the top four

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It is a weekend of derbies in LaLiga and Real Madrid will be looking to take another step towards their 35th Spanish title.

The game of the week comes from Catalonia though, with Barcelona aiming to hold on to fourth spot against an Athletic Bilbao side forcing their way into the race for Europe.

Real make the short trip to Rayo Vallecano, while Sevilla host Real Betis in the Seville derby.

Game of the week: Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao (Sunday, 8pm)

Barcelona extended their unbeaten league run to nine games with a 4-1 win at Valencia — but Athletic head to the Camp Nou in good shape having won four of their last six top-flight matches.

The Blaugrana have found the net in every LaLiga fixture since early December and have shared the goals around their squad. 

After Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s hat-trick against Valencia, no team in Europe’s top five leagues has had more different scorers this season than Xavi’s men (19).

The visitors have looked sharp in attack lately too, scoring two or more goals in each of their previous three league outings and thumping Real Sociedad 4-0 in last weekend’s Basque derby. They have not struck twice in four consecutive games since December 2019.

This will be the third meeting between these sides this term. The reverse league fixture finished 1-1, while Athletic ran out 3-2 winners after extra-time in their Copa del Rey clash.

Barcelona have been more effective going forward than Athletic Bilbao but have also conceded more goals
Barcelona have been more effective going forward than Athletic Bilbao but have also conceded more goals

Here are the other big games to watch this weekend…

Rayo Vallecano vs Real Madrid (Saturday, 5.30pm)

Rayo will look to spring a surprise against table-topping neighbours Real, who have won 19 of the last 21 encounters between the two teams.

However, Los Blancos lost their previous Madrid derby 1-0 at Getafe last month and Carlo Ancelotti’s side have not strung together back-to-back LaLiga victories in 2022. 

They will be trying to avoid going three away league games without a win for the first time since May 2019.

Madridistas should not be overly concerned ahead of this one as they face a Rayo team on a four-match losing streak. The hosts have conceded two or more goals in three of those games and have slipped to 11th in the table.

Real won this season’s reverse fixture, with Toni Kroos and Karim Benzema on target in a 2-1 triumph at the Bernabeu.

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema is LaLiga's top scorer with 18 goals from 22 appearances
Real Madrid's Karim Benzema is LaLiga's top scorer with 18 goals from 22 appearances

Sevilla vs Real Betis (Sunday, 3.15pm)

The Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan is the venue for Sunday's Seville derby where victory for Betis will take them to within two points of their great rivals in second.

But Sevilla could make a bit of history this weekend — neither team has ever won three consecutive top-flight Gran Derbi contests without conceding. 

The hosts are also looking to make it four straight home wins over Betis for the first time since the mid-80s.

Should Betis triumph however, they will record back-to-back wins over Sevilla for the first time this century. 

Los Verdiblancos won 2-1 at the Estadio Benito Villamarin last month to knock Julen Lopetegui’s team out of the Copa del Rey in a controversial last-16 tie.

The match was originally suspended in the 40th minute when Sevilla defender Joan Jordan was struck by an object thrown from the crowd, with the game resuming the following day behind closed doors.

These fierce foes last met in the league in November, with Sevilla winning 2-0 through Marcos Acuna's strike and a Hector Bellerin own goal.

Atletico Madrid vs Celta Vigo (Saturday, 8pm)

Both Atletico Madrid and Celta Vigo ended their last encounter with 10 men after a feisty clash
Both Atletico Madrid and Celta Vigo ended their last encounter with 10 men after a feisty clash

Atletico Madrid will want to put an end to an inconsistent league run when Celta Vigo visit the Wanda Metropolitano. 

But Celta head to the capital on their longest LaLiga unbeaten run this season, having avoided defeat in their last five outings.

Champions in 2021, Atletico have endured a torrid campaign by their recent standards. However, Diego Simeone’s men are unbeaten in nine home league meetings with Celta — although the corresponding fixture last term finished all square at 2-2.

Celta have fared well in general on recent league trips to Madrid, avoiding defeat in eight of their last 11 such games having lost their previous nine away matches against sides from the region. 

These two last met on the opening weekend when Atleti ran out 2-1 winners in an ill-tempered clash, which saw both sides have a man sent off following a stoppage-time brawl.

The weekend's other games

Levante vs Elche (Friday, 8pm)

Mallorca vs Valencia (Saturday, 1pm)

Getafe vs Alaves (Saturday, 3.15pm)

Villarreal vs Espanyol (Sunday, 1pm)

Real Sociedad vs Osasuna (Sunday, 5.30pm)

Granada vs Cadiz (Monday, 8pm)

Follow each game with our unbeatable live scores service. Simply tap the Scores tab on the web or download the LiveScore app from the App Store for iOS devices or Google Play for Android.

Tags

LaLigaBarcelonaAthletic BilbaoRayo VallecanoReal MadridSevillaReal BetisAtletico MadridCelta Vigo
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