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La Liga Preview: La Liga returns to action

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Real Madrid players celebrating a goal in a past match in La Liga this season. | PHOTO: The Analyst |
  • La Liga will be back this week after the 2022 FIFA World Cup break
  • The Spain’s top-flight returns to action this Thursday with enticing clashes set to take place
  • SportsLeo takes a look at what to expect in La Liga matchweek 15 this week

This week marks La Liga’s 15th round of matches. Spanish top-flight football is back after a lengthy break for the World Cup and the Christmas holidays, with three games on Thursday, four on Friday, and three more on Saturday to wrap up 2022, SportsLeo takes a look at what to expect.

Atletico Madrid seeking a return to top four

Six teams will compete on Thursday, and Atlético Madrid will be one of them. Losing would allow the Rojiblancos to finish the year inside the top four. The team led by Diego Simeone is now tied for fifth place with Real Betis and Athletic Club on points (sixth). On Thursday, they host Elche, and it will be expected that they win against a group that has only amassed four points in La Liga thus far.

Diego Simeone

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone will be hoping his side will get back to the top four of La Liga in matchweek 15. | PHOTO: Football Espana |

Joo Félix, a Portuguese winger who has been heavily linked to loan moves in January, will play against Elche. Simeone declared, “He will be incredibly essential for us if he communicates what we saw in the World Cup. After Matheus Cunha joined Wolves, Atlético are looking to add a striker, and Borja Iglesias of Betis is one of their primary targets.

On Thursday, Real Betis and Athletic Club, the other two teams with 24 points, square off at the Benito Villamarn. The other game of the day pits Rayo Vallecano (seventh) against Girona (thirteenth).

Karim Benzema is back for Real Madrid

Los Blancos lost their La Liga lead after losing 3-2 to nearby Rayo Vallecano on November 7th, and the defending champions entered the World Cup break two points behind rivals Barcelona. Karim Benzema’s return from injury will give Carlo Ancelotti’s team a boost when they travel to Real Valladolid on Friday to begin their new season. The French attacker, who was reportedly passed over for the knockout stages after regaining fitness, had nothing to do with Les Bleus’ journey to the World Cup final after he was ruled out before to the competition. However, he will be out to make a statement. The 35-year-old is anticipated to make his Jose Zorrilla debut.

Karim Benzema

Karim Benzema will be back for Real Madrid in La Liga match week 15 after a stint on the sidelines due to an injury. | PHOTO: CNN |

After taking part in the World Cup’s closing phases, midfielders Eduardo Camavinga, Aurélien Tchouaméni, and Luka Modric will all be back with the team on Thursday, but they won’t likely play against Valladolid.

Struggling Sevilla will attempt to leave the relegation zone on Friday as well. The Andalusians haven’t been able to improve their situation since Julen Lopetegui was fired and Jorge Sampaoli took over in early October, and they currently occupy 18th place before travelling to Celta Vigo (in 17th).

Barcelona take on Espanyol in the Catalan derby

The most anticipated matchup on Saturday is La Liga leaders Barcelona hosting local rivals Espanyol. This La Liga season, Barça has won 12 of their 14 games while only losing once. In comparison, Espanyol has had considerably more of a difficult time, just recording two victories in 2022–23. Before this game, which will be officiated by contentious Spanish World Cup referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz, the Pericos are down in 16th place. He may come to mind because of the Argentina-Netherlands encounter in Qatar.

“Winning the derby is key for us to get into a good dynamic,” Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen said this week. And Espanyol coach Diego Martínez told Marca: “It would be amazing to win it.”

Barça boss Xavi has welcomed back Jules Koundé to training following his World Cup exploits with France, but striker Robert Lewandowski sits out the first game of a three-match ban after he was sent off against Osasuna prior to the break. Forward Memphis Depay is expected to be made available for transfer in January and could be playing in his last game for Barcelona on Saturday.

Third-placed Real Sociedad are at home to Osasuna (seventh and just three points back) in an all-northern affair later in the day, with another regional derby bringing the matchday – and the year – to a close as Villarreal (ninth) welcome Valencia (10th) on Saturday evening.

 

Nathan Sialah is a journalist by profession with interest in politics, sports, cryptocurrency and human interests with 5 years experience in Radio and Digital Journalism. This has helped Sialah develop a responsible approach to any task he undertakes or any situation that he is presented with.

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