LaLiga Matchday 9: Surprise package Sociedad target top spot
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Postponements elsewhere put Real Sociedad in pole position to go top of LaLiga on Matchday 9 — they host Mallorca on Saturday night.
Capital duo Real and Atletico Madrid have had their scheduled games called off due to a number of players being involved in this week's South American World Cup qualifiers.
Barcelona are in action though and could move into the top four with victory over Valencia in Sunday’s late kick-off.
Levante vs Getafe (Saturday, 5.30pm)
LaLiga’s two winless sides go head-to-head on Saturday evening, with the hosts potentially able to climb out of the bottom three with a victory.
Getafe only picked up their first point of the season last time out — but it was an impressive one as they drew 1-1 against high-flying Sociedad.
That result was not enough to save head coach Michel’s job, however, and Quique Sanchez Flores will take charge of the Azulones for the first time at the Estadi Ciutat de Valencia, where Levante have only won two of their 15 league games this calendar year.
The hosts have lost their last three matches without scoring, although they have missed two penalties in the process.
Real Sociedad vs Mallorca (Saturday, 8pm)
Sociedad can take advantage of the top two not playing and go top with a victory or draw against Mallorca, who won for the first time in five games last time out.
Imanol Alguacil’s side have not lost since a 4-2 defeat at Barcelona on the opening weekend of the season — they are unbeaten in five home matches in all competitions, winning three of those.
Three of the visitors’ seven goals so far this term — their last three, in fact — have come from set-pieces, all corners. Only Athletic Bilbao have scored more times from dead-ball situations (four).
Mallorca have created 40% (3.3) of their total expected goals (8.2) from set-pieces, which is the highest proportion in the division.
Celta Vigo vs Sevilla (Sunday, 3.15pm)
Should Sociedad suffer defeat, Sevilla can go level on points with them, Real and Atleti at the top of the table if they beat Celta Vigo.
The Rojiblancos’ last match before the international break brought their first defeat of the season in any competition, as they went down 1-0 at home to Granada, but they still boast LaLiga’s joint-best defensive record after conceding just three goals in seven games.
Celta have spent a league-low 59 minutes in front at home, however, losing four of their last five matches at Balaidos.
Eduardo Coudet’s men will be hoping that Iago Aspas continues his fine record against Sevilla, who he has scored nine goals in 13 LaLiga appearances against. But he has only bagged one non-penalty goal so far in 2021-22.
Villarreal vs Osasuna (Sunday, 5.30pm)
Osasuna could continue their fine start to the season by going level on points with the top three, if they win and Sociedad lose.
Only once in their history have the Pamplona-based outfit had more points after eight games of a top-flight campaign — they currently sit on 14, and they could make it 12 away points from a possible 12 with victory at the Estadio de la Ceramica.
After a run of four straight draws to begin the campaign, Unai Emery’s hosts have won two of their last three LaLiga outings, beating Elche 4-1 and Real Betis 2-0 — as well as drawing 0-0 with Real Madrid to remain the only unbeaten team in the division.
Remarkably, the Yellow Submarine have also yet to trail for a single minute in LaLiga so far. They rank alongside Sevilla for the fewest goals conceded (three, one of which was an own-goal) and have kept the joint-most clean sheets along with Sociedad and Athletic Club (five).
Barcelona vs Valencia (Sunday, 8pm)
Ninth plays eighth at Camp Nou, with Barcelona needing to produce a big performance and result to relieve the pressure on head coach Ronald Koeman.
Barca have failed to score in three of their previous four games in all competitions, losing their last two 3-0 to Benfica in the Champions League and 2-0 to Atletico Madrid in LaLiga — the latter was their first league defeat of the season, though, despite the Catalan club’s struggles of late.
Valencia have dropped off after a promising start to the campaign, which saw them win three of their opening four fixtures.
September did see Jose Bordalas’ side win on the road in LaLiga for the first time since January, however, as they thumped Osasuna 4-1 on Matchday 4.
The hosts may fancy their chances with shots from range in this one — Valencia have conceded a joint-high three goals from outside the box so far, having also let in the most long-distance efforts last season (12).
Sunday’s other game
Rayo Vallecano vs Elche (Sunday, 1pm)
Alaves vs Real Betis (Monday, 6pm)
Espanyol vs Cadiz (Monday, 8pm)