La Liga Lowdown: Round Nineteen Preview & Round Eighteen Review

Savage gives us his thoughts on the best of the action from the pre-Christmas matches in Spain's Primera División and looks forward to two Madrid derbies to kick-off the New Year

Getafe (16) v Real Madrid (1)

Coliseum Alfonso Pérez, Sun 02 Jun 13:00 (Ireland/UK), 14:00 (Spain)

Getafe have managed to string together their best run in recent weeks and have lost just once in their last 8 fixtures (W3 D4 L1). Despite this they remain above the relegation places on goal difference alone. The home side’s problem is very definitely that they don’t score enough goals. In fact they have registered three less than any other side (12 in 18 games). The visit of the second best defence will provide little chance for the Azulones to improve that record. Their visitors bounced back from unexpectedly dropping 2 points against Cádiz to beat Bilbao for the second time in 3 weeks. Los Blancos appeared to have weathered their covid storm but just announced that both Courtois and Vinicius Jr have tested positive at the time of writing. Madrid have scored in every away fixture so far and this Getafe defence is unlikely to stop that trend continuing.

Atlético Madrid (5) v Rayo Vallecano (4)

Wanda Metropolitano, Sun 02 Jun 15:15 (Ireland/UK), 16:15 (Spain)

Atlético currently have the joint worst losing streak of four matches (tied with Sociedad). In most regular seasons Simeone’s side would be happy to sit just a point behind another team from Madrid at the halfway stage. Unfortunately for them, that Madrid team is actually 17 points ahead and it is their visitors from Vallecas sitting just above them. The saving grace for Atleti is that Rayo do not travel well (W1 D2 L6). In addition, Vallecano may be without 17 first team players who tested positive this week meaning a host of B team players being fielded. Los Franjirrojos would have relished the prospect of claiming a huge scalp at the Wanda but unfortunately it looks as though covid has put paid to that. Los Colchoneros need a statement victory to erase the recent losses and this looks like just the ticket for the home side.

Cádiz (19) v Sevilla (2)

Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla, Mon 03 Jun 20:15 (Ireland/UK), 21:15 (Spain)

Cádiz withstood an onslaught against Real last time out. The league leaders registered 36 shots against Los Piratas without breaking the deadlock. Fortunately for Los Nervionenses they are travelling to the Nuevo Mirandilla where their hosts have failed to win (D5 L4). Levante are the only other team without a home win which is why they are both rooted to the bottom of the table. After an excellent 2-1 win over Atlético, Sevilla were only able to manage a draw against Barcelona to leave them 8 points off top spot. Lopetegui’s team are not free scoring away from home but they should be emboldened by their host’s poor record. It is unlikely that Cádiz will be able to survive another barrage in this one as they have only kept two clean sheets at home. Sevilla have no option but to go for the win lest Madrid slip out of sight completely.

Round 18 Review

The lead up to the winter break was a particularly busy period for some teams. Matchday 18 was barely concluded before the next sequence of games took place. A host previously postponed fixtures (matchday’s 4 & 9) took place  midweek. The final game before Christmas saw Bilbao and Real Madrid face off in a matchday 21 fixture. That tie was brought forward due to those teams involvement in the Supercopa de Espana in January.

Game of the Week

Levante 3-4 Valencia

Another week and another crushing 3-4 loss for Levante. This time it was their nearest neighbours who inflicted the damage in the Valencia Derby. The hosts started incredibly brightly and were two goals to the good inside 25 minutes. The first coming from José Campana who saw his penalty attempt saved by Cillessen but had the composure to slot home the rebound. Three minutes later the captain Morales played an exquisite ball across the box to find Martí unmarked. The striker had plenty of time to pick his spot. The ominous signs began to materialise for the hosts when Guedes buried his first in spectacular fashion as the half drew to a close. A wonderful 1-2 with Duro allowed the Portuegese to find space on the edge of the box before thumping the ball into the far corner.

Second half misery for Levante

Carlos Soler levelled things up with his first of the night from 12 yards after Hugo Duro was clumsily brought down in the box. The Spaniard was on hand 20 minutes later to put his side in front for the first time. A defence-splitting through ball by Guedes set up Soler who smashed the ball into the roof of the net, beating Cardenas at his near post. A strong contender for goal of the week followed as Guedes got his brace. Marcos de Sousa took out the entire back line with his through ball. The Portuguese forward deftly pulled the ball back onto his left leaving both Clerc and Cardenas on the ground in the process. He then slotted the ball into the empty net. Levante pulled a consolation goal back in stoppage time as Enis Bardhi slotted home after a slick passing move from the home side.

Goal of the Week

Ivan Rakitic v Atletico Madrid

Some goals are special because of slick one-touch passing manoeuvres while others can be because of meandering individual solo runs.  But for pure simplicity there really is nothing quite like an absolute cracker into the top corner from distance. Karim Rekik teed this one up and Rakitic did the rest. 30 yards out from goal, the Croatian had enough time to take two touches before hitting an absolute pearler that no keeper in the world could have gotten a hand to. There was nothing any Madrid player could have done to prevent this one.

And the rest….

Valencia (8) v Espanyol (11), Fri 31 Dec 2021 15:15 (Ireland/UK), 16:15 (Spain)

Elche (17) v Granada (12), Sun 02 Jan 2022 15:15 (Ireland/UK), 16:15 (Spain)

Real Betis (3) v Celta Vigo (14), Sun 02 Jan 2022 17:30 (Ireland/UK), 18:30 (Spain)

Alavés (18) v Real Sociedad (6), Sun 02 Jan 2022 17:30 (Ireland/UK), 18:30 (Spain)

Mallorca (15) v Barcelona (7), Sun 02 Jan 2022 20:00 (Ireland/UK), 21:00 (Spain)

Villarreal (9) v Levante (20), Mon 03 Jan 2022 18:00 (Ireland/UK), 19:00 (Spain)

Osasuna (13) v Athletic Bilbao (10), Mon 03 Jan 2022 20:00 (Ireland/UK), 21:00 (Spain)

SRD Selections:

Getafe v Real Madrid – Real Madrid & Over 1.5 (11/10)

Atlético Madrid v Rayo Vallecano – Atletico Madrid & Over 2.5 (11/10)

Cádiz v Sevilla – Sevilla Win (20/23)

Above in a Treble (7/1)