LaLiga Matchday 29: Spanish giants go head-to-head in El Clasico
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Real Madrid can take a significant step towards their 35th LaLiga title with victory over rivals Barcelona in Sunday’s El Clasico.
Away from that grudge match, Sevilla host Real Sociedad looking to consolidate second place while Atletico Madrid could go third with victory at Rayo Vallecano.
At the other end of the table, Alaves face Granada in a key match-up in the relegation tussle, while 18th-placed Cadiz host a Villarreal side fresh from a famous Champions League win at Juventus.
Game of the week: Real Madrid vs Barcelona (Sunday, 8pm)
Real come into Sunday's game looking to record their 101st victory against old foes Barca.
However, the visitors are unbeaten in 12 league games and have not suffered a LaLiga defeat on the road since October.
The Catalan club have enjoyed their trips to the Bernabeu this century, picking up more wins (10) and scoring more goals (41) than their hosts.
Los Blancos have won the last five meetings between the two though, most recently in January's Supercopa de Espana semi-final.
In addition, Carlo Ancelotti's men have suffered just six league defeats since the beginning of last season — the joint-fewest in Europe’s top five leagues alongside Inter Milan.
Here are the other big games to watch this weekend…
Sevilla vs Real Sociedad (Sunday, 5.30pm)
With their title dream all but over, Sevilla’s attention turns to securing second. Real Sociedad, meanwhile, will try to become the first visiting LaLiga team to win at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan this term.
Julen Lopetegui’s side have dropped only six points at home all season and boast the best points per game record at home in the division (2.53).
If the task facing the visitors was not difficult enough, the omens are hardly with them either. They have not won at Sevilla for six years and have not kept a clean sheet there since 2007.
On the subject of clean sheets, Imanol Alguacil’s side have shut the opposition out on a league-high 16 occasions this season — although Sevilla rank second in that respect with 14.
The overriding factor in Sevilla’s faltering title challenge has been that they draw too many games, with their 11 stalemates this season the second-most in the league behind Cadiz (12).
One of those came in September’s reverse fixture in San Sebastian which finished goalless.
Alaves vs Granada (Saturday, 1pm)
Victory for second-bottom side Alaves will put them level on points with 17th-placed Granada, who head to Mendizorrotza winless in 10 games — of which they have lost seven.
The hosts are not in much better nick, winning only one of their last 16 and losing nine.
Granada have found the net just twice in their last seven outings — from the penalty spot and via an own goal.
But no team in LaLiga has managed fewer goals this term than Alaves (21), who have drawn a blank in 13 of their 28 matches.
Hoping to end his goal drought will be Granada’s Jorge Molina. The veteran striker, 39, has not registered in his last 10 games, having bagged eight times in his previous seven appearances.
These sides last faced each other in December when Santiago Arias’ 86th-minute winner clinched three points for Granada.
Rayo Vallecano vs Atletico Madrid (Saturday, 8pm)
Rayo arrested a run of six straight losses by holding Sevilla to a 1-1 draw last time out but they enter this all-Madrid affair having lost six league games in a row against Atletico.
The hosts have not even scored in their last five encounters with Atleti — and they have drawn a blank in six out of nine top-flight matches in 2022.
This will be Atleti’s seventh LaLiga visit to Rayo and they have lost only one of the previous six, picking up four wins.
Despite dropping like a stone to 13th, Rayo boast one of the league’s best home defensive records, with their 10 goals conceded the third-fewest behind Real Madrid (nine) and Sociedad (six).
Atleti forward Antoine Griezmann enjoys playing against Rayo. The Frenchman has scored six times in his last five LaLiga encounters with them but has never scored in six successive games against the same team.
These sides met in their first game of the year with Diego Simeone’s men winning 2-0 thanks to an Angel Correa brace.
Cadiz vs Villarreal (Sunday, 3.15pm)
A draw could be enough for Cadiz to climb out of the bottom three as they welcome Villarreal to Nuevo Mirandilla — but the visitors have won three of their last four games on the road.
The Yellow Submarine's impressive away form continued on Wednesday night when they secure a memorable 3-0 victory at Juve.
With 48 league goals, Unai Emery's men are the division’s fifth-highest scorers. A patient side, six of those goals have come from build-ups of 10 or more passes. Only Real (10) and Barca (nine) have scored more such goals.
The hosts, on the other hand, have found the net fewer times (24) than any other team with the exception of Alaves (21).
At the 14th time of asking, Cadiz finally picked up their first home win of the campaign on Matchday 27. They have only recorded back-to-back home wins once since returning to LaLiga in 2020.
Emery will be looking to maintain a 100% record against Cadiz boss Sergio Gonzalez, who he has beaten four times — his best win rate against any LaLiga manager.
The weekend's other fixtures
Athletic Bilbao vs Getafe (Friday, 8pm)
Elche vs Valencia (Saturday, 3.15pm)
Osasuna vs Levante (Saturday, 5.30pm)
Espanyol vs Mallorca (Sunday, 1pm)
Celta Vigo vs Real Betis (Sunday, 3.15pm)