La Liga

La Liga 12-13/02/2022: Real Madrid travel to Villarreal, Barcelona’s derby clash

It was another riveting week in La Liga. Real Madrid got back to winning ways against Granada, while Barcelona are moving along serenely. In this preview, we will look ahead to two crunch games in Spain’s top flight — Villarreal v Real Madrid on Saturday, and the derby between Espanyol and Barcelona on Sunday. Read our full preview below.

Real Madrid edge past plucky Granada

As is always the case in football, there are going to be games where you are not at your best, but you find a way to win. This was the case with Real Madrid last Sunday, as they edged past Granada 1-0. A late Marco Asensio goal — his eighth of the season — proved to be the difference between the two sides.

Los Blancos also had four players missing, including top scorer Karim Benzema, and Carlos Vinicius Jr, who was suspended. The result proved that Real have what it takes to wrest the title back from Atletico Madrid. As things stand, they are six points clear at the top of La Liga.

Karim Benzema picks up special prize for Real Madrid

Benzema is having an excellent season to date. And the way things are going, he could get his hands on the La Liga title once again. Currently, he is fourth on the club’s all-time goalscoring charts with 303 goals to his name. He also picked up a gong at the Madrid Sports Press Association annual gala for his on-field achievements for Real.

Villarreal still in the hunt for a Champions League spot

Real Madrid’s opponents, Villarreal, are firmly in the mix for a Champions League berth come the end of the season. They are in sixth, just three points behind fourth-placed Barcelona, and they’ve recorded back-to-back wins in La Liga. However, whether the Yellow Submarine, as they are known, have the nous to break down Real is another question.

Villarreal v Real Madrid: What happened when they last met

Villarreal’s match against Real Madrid could well be a tense affair. But the fans will be hoping for goals this time around. When they last faced each other at the Bernabeu back in September, both sides played out a drab goalless draw. Although perhaps that won’t bother Real if it happened again this weekend.

Barcelona feeling more comfortable under Xavi

While there may have been huge concerns about Barcelona at the start of the season, Xavi has been a calming influence, and they look a more organised outfit. Their last defeat was away to Real Betis back in December. Having now climbed into the top four, a Champions League spot is certainly obtainable.

Of course, Barca will want to close the gap on Real Madrid, as there is a 15-point buffer between the two sides as things stand. And they will be hoping for some derby joy when they travel to Espanyol on Sunday evening.

Meanwhile, new signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be hoping he has done enough to put himself in the frame for a starting spot against Espanyol. The Gabon striker started life at the Nou Camp with a 4-2 win against Atletico Madrid on his debut after coming off the bench. However, he won’t want reminding that he was sporting an Arsenal tattoo!

Espanyol v Barcelona: A look back on past encounters

While the Barcelona derby may not be as frenzied as el Clasico, there will still be plenty of talking points. It could make for an interesting watch. In their previous clash back in November, Barca emerged 1-0 winners thanks to a Memphis Depay penalty three minutes after the restart.

It could well be an edgy affair, and for Barca, they will want to consolidate a top-four spot. Espanyol, meanwhile, are in danger of seeing their season fizzle out. Barca will want to complete a league double over Espanyol, and the signs seem to point to a win for Xavi’s charges.

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