Fresh starts for Setien at Barcelona as LaLiga second half begins
The second half of the 2019/20 LaLiga Santander kicks off this weekend with hopes of new beginnings and fresh starts at the top and bottom of the table.
Barcelona reached the half-way point just ahead of Real Madrid on goal difference – but nevertheless the blaugrana outfit have changed coach with Quique Setien replacing Ernesto Valverde on the bench. Setien’s first game in charge sees Granada visiting the Camp Nou – where the Andalusians have lost on their last five visits without scoring even once, although Diego Martinez’s side did shock Barça 2-0 in the reverse fixture back in September.
Real Madrid host Sevilla at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday afternoon in what should be an emotional occasion with Blancos skipper Sergio Ramos and Hispalenses coach Julen Lopetegui facing their former clubs. This fixture has gone well for Ramos and company in recent years – Madrid have won the last 10, with 33 goals scored and just eight against.
The weekend begins with Friday’s South Madrid derby – as Leganes welcome suburban neighbours Getafe to Butarque, with their long-simmering local rivalry having gone global. Currently seventh placed Getafe won 2-0 in October’s reverse fixture – but that defeat sparked Leganes into life and have taken eight points from their last four games to climb towards safety.
Saturday’s action starts with Levante hosting Alaves – the visitors have won four of the last five LaLiga meetings between these teams, including a 1-0 victory on opening day last August.
Later on Saturday afternoon sees Valladolid visiting Osasuna’s El Sadar – both teams drew more games [nine] than anyone else over the first half of the campaign, including a 1-1 in the reverse fixture at the Estadio Jose Zorrilla back in September.
Saturday’s final game is Eibar hosting Atletico Madrid – the Basques have never beaten Atletico in LaLiga Santander, but came very close during the dramatic 3-2 at the Wanda Metropolitano in the early autumn.
Sunday switches over to the Balearic Islands, with RCD Mallorca hosting Valencia in the early game. The hosts will be hoping for a change in fortune having taken just one point from their last six LaLiga games, while 11 points over the same stretch has Los Che up to sixth and eyeing Champions League qualification.
Real Sociedad at the Benito Villamarin to face Real Betis has the potential to be a thriller – Los Verdiblancos have scored at least three times in their last five LaLiga games, while the Txuri-urdin’s three most recent outings have produced 12 goals in total.
Villarreal’s win at Real Sociedad last week saw the Yellow Submarine finish the first half of the season as one of the most in-form team in LaLiga, winning all their games during the last month. On Sunday they host an Espanyol side buoyed by a dramatic 2-2 derbi draw at home to Barca last time out, in new coach Abelardo Fernandez’s first game in charge.
Athletic Bilbao will be favourites in Sunday afternoon’s clash with Celta Vigo – Los Leones only conceded three goals in total in nine games at their Estadio San Mames over the first half of the campaign, while Celta have just won once on the road so far in 2019/20.