Preview: Cup hangovers to play their role in weekend La Liga matches

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, January 21, 2022
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MADRID, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- The 22nd round of matches in La Liga rounds off an intensive January for many clubs before the competition takes a break next weekend.

The round of matches kicks off on Friday night with Betis aiming to consolidate their third place in the table, traveling to play Espanyol, who are tough to beat in front of their home fans.

Betis have just been hit with a two-game stadium closure following the incident in last Saturday's Copa del Rey tie against Sevilla which saw Sevilla's Joan Jordan hit by a pole thrown from the stands.

Saturday's standout game sees Atletico Madrid try and leave their current crisis of both play and results as they entertain Valencia. Atletico have lost the competitive edge that traditionally makes them so hard to beat and if they will need to recover that against a rival that gives nothing away.

Sevilla have the chance to close the gap on Real Madrid at the top of the table to just one point when they entertain Celta Vigo.

Julen Lopetegui's side are hampered by a host of absences through injury and the African Cup of Nations, but showed in their 1-1 draw in Valencia on Wednesday that they are able to dig deep to grind out a result.

Saturday also sees Villarreal, who need to recover from last weekend's defeat away to Elche, take on a Mallorca side that is doing just enough to avoid being dragged into a relegation battle.

Levante and Cadiz are both very much in that dogfight and the bottom two sides in La Liga face an absolutely crucial match where Levante may just have the edge in moral after claiming their first win of the campaign a fortnight ago.

Real Madrid and Elche meet again just three days after their Copa del Rey last 16 tie which Real Madrid won controversially after time.

Karim Benzema, Vinicius Jr, Eder Militao and Luka Modric will all be back for Madrid after being rested on Thursday.

FC Barcelona have to recover from the physical and metal effects of their extra time Cup defeat against Athletic Club Bilbao on Thursday night, along with the loss of both Ansu Fati and Pedri to injury when they face struggling Alaves in the Camp Nou Stadium.

Alaves travel to the Camp Nou after a 4-0 thrashing away to Betis on Tuesday night and although Jose Luis Mendilibar's men should in theory have fresher legs, they will need to improve considerably to get anything from the trip.

Rayo Vallecano defend their unbeaten home record against Athletic Club, who they beat 1-0 in Bilbao earlier in the season and it should be an emotional game for Rayo coach Andoni Iraola, who made over 500 appearances as a player for the Basque side.

Athletic's moral is sky high after beating Barca, but they are without Unai Vencedor and Oihan Sancet through injury and the other players have little recovery time after Thursday's marathon cup tie.

Real Sociedad enjoyed a comfortable win at home to Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday and should be able to welcome striker Alexander Isak back for their match at home to a Getafe side that is much harder to beat with Quique Sanchez Flores in charge.

Finally, Granada play after both sides lost in midweek, with Granada shipping four goals in Getafe. Enditem

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