La Liga: Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid eye wins ahead of the international break

It was a dramatic week in La Liga, especially at Barcelona, where Ronald Koeman was relieved of his duties after a dispiriting start to the campaign. In this week’s preview, we will focus on two games before the international break — Real Madrid v Rayo Vallecano, and Valencia v Atletico Madrid. We will also check in on the latest match odds.

Real Madrid claim narrow win at Elche

Sometimes in football, you have to learn how to grind out wins. After a two-and-a-half day turnaround, Real Madrid eked out a 2-1 win away to Elche to leave themselves just a point behind table-toppers Real Sociedad. A Vinicius Junior double sealed the points for Los Blancos, who were bereft of their top scorer Karim Benzema due to injury.

At times, Real rode their luck, but they dominated possession and fashioned more attempts. Carlo Ancelotti was particularly impressed with Junior’s display, but refused to take credit for his performance. After the game, he said: “I’m not a magician, I try to do my best, and place the utmost confidence in all players.”

Mariano set for spell on sidelines after breaking his nose against Elche

Mariano may have been a surprise name on the team sheet against Elche, but Ancelotti reshuffled his attack after they drew against Osasuna in midweek. However, Mariano, who was given his first run-out since May, was sent flying in the closing stages against Elche, and he broke his nose. He will now undergo surgery, but he is expected to be out for a few games.

Rayo Vallecano in good shape ahead of Bernabeu trip

Before they take on Real Madrid on Saturday evening, Rayo Vallecano host Celta Vigo. And after a 1-0 win away to Barcelona last week, Rayo Vallecano are in fine fettle, and Radamel Falcao is enjoying a renaissance. Four goals in five La Liga appearances shows the Colombian hitman is starting to reproduce the form of old.

Atletico Madrid end winless streak with emphatic win over Real Betis

Atletico Madrid refused to pass up the opportunity to produce a statement of intent against Real Betis. An emphatic 3-0 victory at home was the perfect way to warm up ahead of a Champions League trip away to Liverpool in midweek. Despite the lashing rain, Atletico were in control from the first whistle. Yannick Carrasco scored, and supplied an assist, as Atletico sauntered to victory.

Atletico Madrid gunning for revenge against Liverpool

For Diego Simeone’s men, they will want to set the record straight in the Champions League. On Matchday 2, Atletico lost 3-2 in a pulsating fixture against Liverpool, and they will be looking to exploit the Reds’ shortcomings at the back. At the weekend, Liverpool let slip a 2-0 lead.

Atletico, have fine-tuned a new attacking style under Simeone, and they can hurt the opposition from any area of the pitch. This of course is another defining week for Atletico, but they began it in the best way possible.

Valencia, meanwhile, are ensconced in mid-table, and they bounced back from their 4-1 thrashing to Real Betis by seeing off Villarreal 2-0 last weekend. A trip to Mestalla can often be laden with problems, but Valencia have been formidable at home this season. They have lost just once, and that was against Real Madrid last month.

Hugo Guillamon revels in special moment for Valencia against Villarreal

While the victory over Villarreal marked the return of Carlos Soler from injury, it also saw Hugo Guillamon net his first goal at the Mestalla. And Guillamon — who isn’t renowned for scoring — admits the strike will live long in the memory. He said: “My first goal at the Mestalla was really nice. It’s one that I’m going to remember.”

Valencia, meanwhile, will be glad they tightened things up at the back after shipping nine goals in their previous three La Liga outings. Last season, Atletico Madrid did the double over Valencia as they won home and away. Los Che will therefore have to show more gumption, and attacking flair if they are going to get anything out of Sunday’s clash.

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