La Liga is back, and if not for the lack of spectators and dodgy broadcast-purpose synthetic crowd noise, you’d be forgiven for thinking it had never been gone.
We’ve had seven games so far, and already we’ve seen a fiery Seville derby, seen Espanyol pick up a key win to drag Deportivo Alaves back into the mire, and we’ve seen Lionel Messi at his majestic best.
Quick bit of housekeeping before we nosedive into the best of what is to come – bare in mind that the fluctuating broadcasting schedule means than anything beyond 25 June is liable to change dramatically.
Still with us? Okay, here are the key dates to mark in your calendar.
Sevilla’s title challenge looks dead and buried – but they’ll know that if they can knock Barcelona off their stride with an upset victory, then anything could happen.
For that reason, the Catalan giants will need to be on their game for their trip to Seville. They’ll be buoyed by an impressive recent record against Los Nervionenses, having scored 14 goals over their last three meetings, but Julen Lopetegui’s team will be in no mood to roll over and give Barça another helping hand towards the title.
It’s a similar story for Madrid, who two days later, will go looking for revenge against a Real Sociedad team who sent them packing from the Copa del Rey in February.
Sociedad are chasing a return to the Champions League and know how to beat Zinedine Zidane’s side. Remarkably, they’ve won three of their four meetings since January 2019 – though the inability to field the electric Martin Odegaard will be a blow as they look to make it four out of five.
This promises to be a weekend which could be decisive at both ends of the table. In the title race, both sides of El Clasico face tough away trips – Real to Athletic Club and Barça to Villarreal – in what could be a week of fixtures more likely than any other to provide a slip.
At the other end of the table, Espanyol and Leganes – the league’s bottom two teams – will face off, well aware that defeat could spell the end of their La Liga tenure.
And then we’ve got the Derbi Barceloní, where Barcelona will look to keep their foot on the gas at the expense of their city rivals.
According to reports, this could be the fixture that sees Barca debut their home kit for 2020/21.
The tight margins up and down the table mean it’s impossible, at this stage, to determine when things will be decided. The penultimate round of fixtures, however, brings many possibilities.
Both Barça and Real face banana-skin home ties, and if the state of play remains constant, then it will be a case of who blinks first.
Meanwhile, Sevilla will take on Real Sociedad while Getafe host Atletico – as the four teams currently occupying third to sixth embark on a self-contained Royal Rumble – with Champions League qualification on the line.
Madrid will finish their season with a South Madrid derby against Leganes – with the possibility rife that they could clinch a first league title in 2017 just a stone’s throw away from the Bernabeu.
Barcelona will be hoping to prevent that with a victory of their own against Deportivo Alaves, while fellow Catalans Espanyol take on Celta Vigo in what could be a final-day relegation six-pointer.
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