With the spotlight on Barcelona, a new-look and struggling Real Madrid, an Atletico Madrid side with much more depth, as well as the surprise package in Alaves, Sevilla’s start to the season went by largely unnoticed. That is, until they made their way to the top of the league right before the international break.
Pablo Machin’s 3-5-2 formation is currently reaping great rewards, particularly up front, with the Rojilblancos having registered 16 goals in their past five matches. The forward combination of Wissam Ben Yedder and Andre Silva continues to thrive, while the deployment of a back-three gives wing-backs much more license to bomb forward, especially Jesus Navas.
But any whispers of Sevilla having title aspirations or credentials are on hold for now, despite the Andalusians having put Real Madrid to the sword. That was deemed a slapdash Real side (not without reason), whom they almost always seem to beat at the Sanchez Pizjuan, and so the premise is that Machin and his team haven’t quite faced a genuine test so far.
Which makes this weekend’s trip to champions Barcelona all the more anticipated. Barcelona are far from convincing this season, particularly on the domestic front, having gone four games without victory in the league, and as a result lost their grip on top spot. Los Cules face a recovery job just nine days before the Clasico, and so a win here would go a long way to signalling their return to form. For Sevilla meanwhile, get a result here, and the rest of the league would really begin to take notice.
Just like Barcelona, rivals Real Madrid are in no good form either, over six hours without scoring, culminating in a four-game winless run, has seen the pressure on Julen Lopetegui rise and talk of his sacking is already in the air. Los Blancos host Levante this weekend, the definition of a must win; but first they have to work on scoring.
Elsewhere, sixth-placed Alaves travel to the Balaidos to face Celta, bottom-placed new boys Huesca host surprise fifth-placed side Espanyol, while Valencia hope for successive league wins as they host Leganes.
Atletico Madrid could end the weekend in top spot, Diego Simeone’s side visiting Villarreal on Saturday, Rayo Vallecano host city rivals Getafe in a capital derby, and Bilbao aim to kick-start their season with a trip to Eibar.
Villarreal v Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid v Levante
Valencia v Leganes
Celta Vigo v Alaves
Real Betis v Valladolid
Eibar v Bilbao
Rayo Vallecano v Getafe
Real Sociedad v Girona
Barcelona v Sevilla
Huesca v Espanyol