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LaLiga Matchday 3: Real hope to maintain perfect start at Espanyol
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Tom Bodell
LiveScore
Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has a sensational goalscoring record against Sunday's opponents Espanyol
Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has a sensational goalscoring record against Sunday's opponents Espanyol

Only goal difference separates Real Madrid from top spot after two rounds — and the reigning LaLiga champions will look to reach the summit when they travel to Espanyol on Sunday.

Carlo Ancelotti's side have made an impressive start to their title defence but find themselves second behind early leaders Villarreal.

Elsewhere, Barcelona will look to build on last weekend's 4-1 win over Real Sociedad when they host strugglers Real Valladolid.

Atletico Madrid make the trip to Valencia looking to get their season up and running, while Villarreal head to Getafe with the aim of maintaining their perfect start.

Game of the week: Espanyol vs Real Madrid (Sunday, 9pm)

Games between Espanyol and Real Madrid only tend to go one way with Los Blancos winning 22 of the last 27 league encounters.

The Catalan outfit have only triumphed in two of those meetings. But if they are going to take anything from that record, both of those wins were at home — in February 2018 and October 2021.

With 105 wins in 174 total contests, Real Madrid have beaten Espanyol more times than any other side in LaLiga history.

There is little let up for Diego Martinez's side, who are currency enduring a nine-match winless run in LaLiga (four draws, five defeats) — their longest streak since they went 15 games without a victory between June 2020 and September 2021.

Real striker Karim Benzema has been involved in at least one goal in his last seven meetings with Los Periquitos (five goals, two assists).

Barcelona vs Real Valladolid (Sunday, 6.30pm)

Ansu Fati will be hoping to break into Xavi's starting line-up at Barcelona
Ansu Fati will be hoping to break into Xavi's starting line-up at Barcelona

The new-look Barcelona era is under way and the Blaugrana will be keen to extend a run of 14 wins in their last 15 games against Real Valladolid.

Not since March 2014 have the Catalan giants been beaten by Sunday's opponents, winning each of their last eight home matches against Valladolid.

In fact, during that run, Barca have averaged 3.4 goals per game. Since the start of the 2008-09 season, they have struck more times at home against Valladolid (40) than anyone else.

But Pacheta's side will take solace in the fact that Barcelona have now failed to find the back of the net in consecutive home league games. They have not drawn a blank in three consecutive top-flight fixtures at the Camp Nou since 1980.

Key to ensuring that run ends will be summer signing Robert Lewandowski. The 34-year-old became the oldest Barcelona player to score a brace in a LaLiga game this century last time out.

Valencia vs Atletico Madrid (Monday, 9pm)

No LaLiga player has registered more assists this season than Joao Felix's tally of three
No LaLiga player has registered more assists this season than Joao Felix's tally of three

Hosts Valencia are in the midst of their longest top-flight winless run against any opponent.

Los Che have failed to pick up three points in any of their last 15 encounters with Atleti (six draws, nine defeats) with their last triumph coming in October 2014.

Furthermore, Gennaro Gattuso's side have not won any of their previous seven league games against the men from Madrid at the Mestalla (four draws, three defeats).

But the better news for Valencia is that they have won their last two home LaLiga fixtures — recording clean sheets in both. Not since Albert Celades was in charge in February 2020 have they registered three straight shut-outs.

Atletico hitman Antoine Griezmann presents the biggest threat to that record. He has bagged 10 in 20 LaLiga meetings with Valencia, making them his favourite opponent.

Real Betis vs Osasuna (Friday, 9pm)

Borja Iglesias is currently top of the LaLiga goalscoring charts with three strikes from two games
Borja Iglesias is currently top of the LaLiga goalscoring charts with three strikes from two games

Third meets fourth as Real Betis and Osasuna put their unbeaten records on the line in Andalucia on Friday night.

Betis, in third, have the upper hand in recent tussles between these two and are unbeaten in their last eight LaLiga fixtures against Osasuna (seven wins, one draw).

Manuel Pellegrini's men will attempt to secure a sixth straight victory against the Pamplona-based side. They have only managed this three times previously — against Espanyol, Real Valladolid and Real Zaragoza.

If they can extend that winning streak, Betis will make it three wins to start a new LaLiga campaign for the first time since 2011-12 when they picked up 12 points from 12.

Meanwhile, Osasuna could win three in a row to open a LaLiga season for the first time.

Getafe vs Villarreal (Sunday, 4.30pm)

Leaders Villarreal will be confident of extending their unbeaten run in the capital — they have won each of their last six games against Getafe.

Unai Emery's side have not lost any of their last five LaLiga trips to the Madrid region and have won on each of the last three visits to the Coliseum Alfonso Perez.

Worryingly for the hosts, Getafe have spent more time behind this season (123 minutes) than anyone else, while their visitors are one of only six top-flight teams yet to trail in 2022-23.

However, Getafe boast one of the form players of 2022 in Enes Unal. The striker has scored 12 LaLiga goals this calendar year — a record bettered only by Karim Benzema (13).

Villarreal talisman Gerard Moreno has been involved in at least one goal on each of his last four trips to the Coliseum though (three goals, two assists).

The weekend's other games

Girona vs Celta Vigo (Friday, 7pm

Elche vs Real Sociedad (Saturday, 4.30pm

Rayo Vallecano vs Mallorca (Saturday, 6.30pm

Almeria vs Sevilla (Saturday, 9pm

Cadiz vs Athletic Bilbao (Monday, 7pm

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

LaLigaReal MadridEspanyolBarcelonaReal ValladolidValenciaAtletico MadridReal BetisOsasunaGetafeVillarreal
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