LaLiga preview: A midweek round to reach the halfway point of the season

·4-min read
Getafe's Japanese winger Takefusa Kubo. (PHOTO: LaLiga
Getafe's Japanese winger Takefusa Kubo. (PHOTO: LaLiga

Matchday 19 has already started, but the majority of this round’s matches will take place this coming midweek on Tuesday (19 January), Wednesday and Thursday.

The four Spanish Super Cup sides – Real Madrid, Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad – already played among each other in December to commence Matchday 19, but there are eight more enticing fixtures waiting to be played.

After this round, most LaLiga Santander sides will have played 19 fixtures, meaning they’ll be at the halfway stage of their 2020/21 campaigns.

INFOGRAPHIC: LaLiga
INFOGRAPHIC: LaLiga

There are two fixtures to kick off Tuesday of this midweek round and one of them could be huge in the relegation battle. Real Valladolid currently occupy the spot just above the relegation zone and they’ll host Elche, the team currently rounding out the bottom three.

Real Valladolid know just how difficult it is to survive after coming up as the winner of the LaLiga SmartBank playoffs, something they just managed to pull off two years ago and something Elche are aiming to do this year. After a bright start, the newly promoted side’s form has dropped off and they’re hoping to end a run of 11 league games without a win.

At the same time as that match, Cadiz will host Levante. These are two teams whose objective at the start of the season was simply to avoid relegation, but they could even finish 2020/21 in the top half of the standings. This round’s match will go a long way to determining if a top half finish is possible.

Also taking place on the Tuesday of this midweek round is Alaves vs Sevilla. This will be the first match for Abelardo since returning to Alaves, which he coached between 2017 and 2019. He’ll start this new stint in the Mendizorrotza dugout by going up against his former Barcelona and Spanish national team teammate Julen Lopetegui, the Sevilla coach who has recently penned a new contract with the Andalusian club.

Wednesday’s action starts with Getafe vs Huesca, and the latter will also have a new coach for this round as they’ve hired Jose Rojo Martín, better known as Pacheta.

After earning promotion for Elche last season but seeing his contract expire, Pacheta will now be able to coach in the top division again, and he’ll do so for the first time since briefly coaching Numancia in 2009. At Getafe, they also have some exciting new faces after bringing in Take Kubo and Carles Alena. Both players impressed on their debuts last time out and will look to lead the Azulones to another victory.

Later on Wednesday night comes Real Betis vs Celta Vigo, two teams in the top half of the rankings for goals scored and two teams in the bottom three for goals conceded. Goals should be expected, then, as these two attack-minded outfits go head to head.

The other Wednesday night match will see Villarreal face Granada, and there could also be a lot of goals in this one. That’s what happened last season, as this game finished 4-4 in the opening round of that 2019/20 campaign. These two teams have evolved a lot since then, but they remain just as intriguing and both qualified for the Europa League last season, while they’re both targeting European qualification again this year.

There are two further fixtures on the Thursday of this midweek round and the first is between Valencia and Osasuna. With the latter having gone 12 LaLiga Santander games without a win, not earning a three-point haul since October, they really need the points at Mestalla and will hope that their attacking leader Ruben García can lead them to victory as he returns to his hometown and as he takes on a club whose academy he spent time in.

The league leaders then round off this Matchday 19, as Atletico Madrid pay a visit to Eibar. Diego Simeone will be reminding his players of what happened at Ipurua last time they visited, when they lost 2-0 last January.

In fact, Eibar have taken points off Atletico in three of their past five meetings, so this won’t be an easy game for the team sitting top of the table. They’ll even be without their suspended captain Koke, so this is a huge test for the title aspirants. On Thursday night, we’ll see if they’re up to the task.

Anyway, no matter this result, Atletico assured finishing the first half of the season as the leaders, so they’ll be the winter champions, as it’s called in Spain.

INFOGRAPHIC: LaLiga
INFOGRAPHIC: LaLiga

Watch LaLiga Santander live this midweek on your local broadcasters.