You know the season is starting to reach full pelt when the midweek fixtures are not just Champions League or Championship games.
Soon, goals start to get established, the surprise packages start to either get taken seriously or drop down the table, and of course, managers start getting dismissed. So, with the first midweek fixtures of the 2018/19 La Liga season on its way, some questions are about to be asked ahead of it:
Will Atletico continue forward momentum?
After a summer that brought optimism, the UEFA Super Cup victory that fuelled it, and the tame start to the league season that quelled it, a sense of positivity has returned again for Atletico Madrid. Consecutive wins has Los Colcheronos looking upward again, the latest result a comfortable 2-0 win at city rivals Getafe. That win, combined with Barcelona dropping points at the weekend, means the gap at the top of the table is now five points. So, the question is will Atletico continue their momentum this midweek? There’s no question that many see them as having a fair shot at the title this term, and with newly-promoted Huesca coming to the Metropolitano on Tuesday, these are the sort of games potential champions are expected to win, especially in a division where things at the top depend on very fine margins.
Will Alaves keep on producing the goods?
Alaves seemed dead and buried last season, even in the early stages, Luis Zubeldia was sacked after a dismal start to the campaign, and replacement Gianni de Blasi barely fared any better. So, former Sporting Gijon manager Abelardo was handed the reins, many saw it as a procession to and preparation for life in ‘Liga 123’. But how wrong they’ve been proved to be. Alaves’ survival turned out to be more comfortable than even they would have expected themselves, and they have begun this new season with 10 points from a possible 15; in fact, only Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico have garnered more points in 2018 than the Basque side. And after a sprightly 5-1 win at Rayo Vallecano, Alaves host Getafe with the possibility of finishing Matchweek six in top spot. Will Abelardo’s side continue their good form, or will Getafe bring them back down to earth?
When will Valencia break win duck?
Five league games, one European game, no wins in any. Valencia are still on their quest for a first victory of 2018/19, Marcelino’s side haven’t even scored a goal since the international break. Their last encounter was at Villarreal last weekend was a goalless draw, just as their home game with Betis the weekend before. Those may be seen with glass-half-full eyes as avoiding defeat, but the fact that they lost tamely at home in the Champions League to ten-man Juventus in-between those stalemates mean Los Che have been evidently toothless so far this term. They host Celta Vigo this midweek, and with Celta in fourth place at the moment, their task is unlikely to get any easier. Will Valencia finally rise to the challenge, or will their quest for a win continue?
Can Leganes exploit Barcelona chink exposed by Girona?
There’s always the feeling that Barcelona can be got at defensively. And on Saturday, Girona exploited those defensive frailties- albeit against ten men- at the Nou Camp, leaving with a point as well. So is that an area of weakness for opponents Leganes to expose? Mauricio Pellegrino’s side have been languishing at the bottom of the table since the Argentine was appointed in the summer, having only one point from five games. Leganes have looked a bit hapless so far, but can they get at Barcelona at the Butarque and exploit the chinks in their armour?
Will Real rise to challenge of Sevilla test?
Real Madrid are still in adaptation mode under Julen Lopetegui. The style of play has had its bright moments- the Champions League win over Roma-, as well as moments when it showed that the system would take some getting used to. One of those latter moments is the laboured win over Espanyol at the weekend, which was anything but convincing. They travel to Sevilla on Wednesday, hoping to continue their bright start to the season. But Sevilla are likely to be Real’s biggest test so far, with Pablo Machin’s side having scored six at Levante on Sunday, as well as the fact that Real have only won once at the Sanchez Pizjuan in seven games. With Real also facing Atletico after this trip, this is a week to determine how much progress they’ve made under Lopetegui so far. Will they falter, or flourish?
Espanyol v Eibar
Atletico Madrid v Huesca
Real Sociedad v Rayo Vallecano
Bilbao v Villarreal
Leganes v Barcelona
Sevilla v Real Madrid
Valencia v Celta Vigo
Alaves v Getafe
Girona v Real Betis