Messi in spotlight in La Liga weekend

Messi in spotlight in La Liga weekend

By: || Updated: 16 Oct 2014 01:50 PM
Madrid: Spanish football powerhouses Real Madrid and FC Barcelona will be back in action Saturday as the eighth round of matches in La Liga promises a weekend of contrasts.

Real Madrid travel to Valencia to face struggling Levante and should be favourites to defeat a side that has struggled at the start of the season, reports Xinhua.

Coach Jose Luis Mendilibar has tried to change Levante's traditional rock-solid defence and midfield and introduce a more passing style of football which could leave them vulnerable to the rapid counter-attacks launched by Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.

Goalkeeper Keylor Navas will return to his former club but will have to be content with a place on the bench as Iker Casillas continues to be the first-choice Madrid goalkeeper.

There is an even greater contrast in the Camp Nou Stadium as newly promoted Eibar, who have the lowest budget in La Liga, play hosts Barcelona.

The game sees the side with the biggest capacity ground (98,800) host the team with the smallest ground in the Spanish first division (Eibar's Ipurua 5,200), but despite limitations Eibar can be expected to put up a tough fight.

Eibar, coached Gaizka Garitano, have shown they are well-organised and are capable of playing on the break, although that may not be enough to stop Lionel Messi and Neymar for 90 minutes, it should mean the game is far from a walkover.

Messi, will however be looking to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his first team debut with goals.

Saturday also sees Athletic Club Bilbao look to kick-start their season at home against an in-form Celta Vigo. Athletic are in the relegation zone after a dreadful start to the campaign and coach Ernesto Valverde will hope that the international break has allowed his players recover some much-needed fitness.

Also, Cordoba will look for their first win of the campaign against a Malaga side which has yet to hit form.

Sunday kicks off with Atletico Madrid at home to an Espanyol side which has performed better than many expected at the start of the season. Atletico's last game saw them crash 1-3 in Valencia and coach Diego Simeone needs more defensive cohesion from a side which made too many uncharacteristic errors a fortnight ago.

Sunday's remaining matches see second place Valencia, with their attack spearheaded by Spain internationals Paco Alcacer and Rodrigo, look to take all three points from a Deportivo la Coruna side struggling for both form and points.

Elche also look weak and Sevilla are favourites to take full points to confirm their positive start to the campaign. Carlos Bacca will be the main threat for the visitors as they look to maintain their good start to the campaign.

The last two games of the weekend see Villarreal at home to Almeria while Real Sociedad host Getafe with both sides struggling for points.

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