La Liga: Real Madrid face fascinating tussle with Sevilla, Barcelona eager to push on

There’s never a dull moment in La Liga! Last weekend, Barcelona kicked off the Xavi era with a win, while Sevilla dropped points at home to Alaves. We will give our thoughts on two games taking place this weekend — Villarreal v Barcelona on Saturday evening followed 24 hours later by Real Madrid v Sevilla. We will also check in on the latest match odds.

Xavi kicks off Barcelona reign with slender victory over Espanyol

After all the turbulence and gloom that has enveloped Barcelona over the past few months, a victory was firmly on the agenda. And for Xavi to get a win, albeit a slender one (1-0) against Espanyol at the Nou Camp, will have been a much-needed pick-me-up for his side.

Memphis Depay converted from the penalty spot three minutes after the restart to give Barcelona a priceless three points which puts them sixth in the table. At the time of writing, Barca were preparing for a midweek Champions League group game, which, if they win, will cement a place in the last 16.

Xavi luring the fans back to the Nou Camp

Xavi’s return to the Nou Camp has sparked a frenzy of excitement among the Barcelona faithful. Having averaged just over 40,000 fans at home in La Liga this campaign, over 74,000 fans witnessed Xavi’s managerial debut for the Catalan giants. Only El Clasico drew in a bigger crowd this season.

Villarreal facing critical week in their campaign

After a run of just one win in five La Liga games, Villarreal need to start climbing the table. They face a critical week in their campaign as they are in Champions League action against Manchester United where a win will all but secure a last-16 spot and then they will be hoping to burst the feel-good factor at Barca.

Villarreal contend with mini injury crisis ahead of Barcelona clash

Villarreal are still bereft of last season’s top scorer Gerard Moreno, who is set to miss out against Manchester United. Meanwhile, Arnaut Danjuma has been nursing an ankle injury, while Etienne Capoue, and Paco Alcacer are also on the sidelines. Although Unai Emery is trying to make Villarreal tough to beat, Barca may well breathe a sigh of relief when the team sheets are announced.

Real Madrid put Granada to the sword with devastating display

Real Madrid have been racking up the wins of late. A thumping 4-1 victory away to Granada was their fourth in a row in all competitions, and they haven’t tasted defeat since a 2-1 loss to Espanyol last month. Against Granada, Carlo Ancelotti’s men pinned the opposition in, and Vinicius Junior’s strike was a picture-perfect team goal.

After Karim Benzema drove into the area, he waited for Luka Modric to make a run. The Croatian maestro looked like he was about to shoot, but instead, he found Vinicius Junior with the outside of his boot, and the Brazilian tucked his effort away with aplomb. Real are in the groove, and they will take some stopping.

Meanwhile, Sevilla may have to fend off any approaches for Julen Lopetegui. The Sevilla boss has enjoyed a fine campaign to date, with his side third in the table, with 28 points to their name from 13 games. However, United, who sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last weekend, are desperate to make a permanent replacement, and Lopetegui is being considered.

Real Madrid v Sevilla: A look back on past encounters

Real Madrid v Sevilla is arguably the game of the weekend, and it sees two of the most in-form sides in Spain’s top-flight come together. And we could be in for a treat, judging by what happened in last season’s corresponding fixture at the Bernabeu. The two teams played out an entertaining 2-2 draw.

Ivan Rakitic looked to have guided his side to all three points when he slotted home from the penalty spot, but Eden Hazard rescued a point deep in stoppage time for Los Blancos. This match will be worth tuning in for, and perhaps Real may just sneak victory here.

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