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Real Madrid’s growing threat in the title race is the major narrative as Spain’s La Liga heads in round 24 of the 2018/19 season this coming weekend.
Real, after looking to be struggling to even make the top four just a few weeks ago, have shot up to second spot on the log following their 3-1 away win over derby rivals Atletico Madrid this past weekend. Goals from Casemiro, Sergio Ramos and Gareth Bale secured a famous win for Los Blancos and manager Santiago Solari.
And they are just six points behind leaders Barcelona, who were unable to break down Athletic Bilbao at San Mames Barria on Sunday night and had to settle for a goalless draw.
Barca, though, will back themselves to return to winning form on Saturday night when they host real Real Valladolid, who have managed just one win in their last 10 matches across all competitions.
Real will be in action the following afternoon as they host Girona at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. The Blanquivermells have lost their last six matches on the bounce and are without a win in their last 13 outings across all competitions. Little wonder they have slipped toward the relegation zone – Los Blancos will feel confident they can extend Girona’s drought.
Atletico will also come up against a relegation-threatened side, as they head to Estadio de Vallecas to face Rayo Vallecano. Manager Diego Simeone will be urging his team to pick up their morale following the loss in the derby, and will look to the likes of Antoine Griezmann for inspiration.
The race for the final spot in the Champions League places appears to be between incumbents Sevilla and fifth-placed Getafe. The former play away to Villarreal (who have plummeted into the relegation zone following a run of 10 league games without a win), while the latter have a potentially tricky match at Eibar to open the round on Friday night.
Elsewhere, Celta de Vigo and Levante will both be looking to push themselves away from the danger zone when they meet at Abanca-Balaidos, Valencia will aim to extend their five-game unbeaten run with a match at home to Espanyol, and a battle for European competition next season sees Real Betis and Deportivo Alaves meet at Estadio Benito Villamarin on Sunday night.
Key match stats
Barcelona v Real Valladolid – Head-to-head stats, all competitions
Matches played 33
Barcelona wins 24
Valladolid wins 4
Real Madrid v Girona – Head-to-head stats, all competitions
Matches played 5
Real wins 4
Girona wins 1
Villarreal v Sevilla – Head-to-head stats, all competitions
Matches played 39
Villarreal wins 8
Sevilla wins 19
La Liga fixtures, 15-18 February
All times CAT
Friday 15 February
22:00: Eibar v Getafe – LIVE on SS7 & SelGo4
Saturday 16 February
14:00: Celta de Vigo v Levante – LIVE on SS7, Max2/Max360 & SelGo2/SelGo4
17:15: Rayo Vallecano v Atletico Madrid – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
19:30: Real Sociedad v Leganes – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
21:45: Barcelona v Real Valladolid – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
Sunday 17 February
13:00: Real Madrid v Girona – LIVE on SS7/SS10, Max2/Max360 & SelGo2/SelGo4
17:15: Valencia v Espanyol – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
19:30: Villarreal v Sevilla – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
21:45: Real Betis v Deportivo Alaves – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4
Monday 18 February
22:00: Huesca v Athletic Bilbao – LIVE on SS7, Max2 & SelGo4