Last season, Girona snatched a surprise victory against the Los Blancos.
La Liga is the home of the two biggest clubs in Europe – add to that Europa League winner Atletico Madrid, you have a league with profound quality and entertainment. As always this year promises to be an enthralling affair with all teams ready to defy expectations and entertain the crowd while they are at it. There are always a few encounters that stand out from the rest because of the sheer presence of fiercely competitive teams.
Here are the top ten La Liga fixtures to look out for this season:
10. Levante vs Barcelona – 16th December 2018
The fixture against Levante on 14th May 2018 was a dagger to every Cules’ heart. The only loss in their title-winning campaign. Levante outclassed Barcelona, preventing them from having an undefeated league campaign and Barca ended the season on a low. For Levante on the other hand, victory pushed them safely above the relegation zone.
On 16th December, the Catalan outfit will be looking for revenge and it will be entertaining to see how the minnows fare against the mighty Barcelona this time.
9. Villarreal vs Atletico Madrid – 21st October 2018
Watch: Villarreal 2-1 Atletico Madrid
In the past three seasons, Atletico Madrid has not managed to win even once against Villarreal. Villarreal has always been a tough nut to crack for Atleti and this year they will be looking to go back to their winning ways against the Yellow Submarines.
It’s a taboo Simeone’s men have to break if they are to seriously pose a threat for the title. Villarreal will take any tough-earned points that come their way as they aim to make it back to the Champions League after missing out narrowly last season. This is a must-watch fixture in all aspects.
8. Espanyol vs Barcelona – 9th December 2018
The Catalan Derby always proves to be a tough assignment for the Blaugrana and this year they will look to silence their neighbours into submission. Last season, they faced Espanyol twice away from home and ended up with one draw and one loss.
This year, they would be looking to set the record straight, especially since the result of this fixture has the potential to pave way for an easy league campaign.
7. Girona vs Real Madrid – 26th August 2018
Watch: Girona 2-1 Real Madrid
Last campaign, Girona pulled off one of the major upsets of the season when they managed to beat Real Madrid at home. It was a David vs Goliath moment as they outclassed their more flashy opponents. The ‘supposed’ relegation favourites also managed to finish a respectable 10th in the league and they managed this with a relatively very small transfer budget.
Real Madrid will be aiming to start the season on a proper note when they travel to Girona this season for their first away game. They will be looking to avoid any slip-ups like last year. Girona are still favourites to lose against the mightier Los Blancos, but football is full of surprises.
6. Celta Vigo vs Barcelona – 5th May 2019
Watch: Celta Vigo 2-2 Barcelona
If there is one fixture that Barcelona have had difficulty navigating through over the seasons, it is their away match against Celta Vigo. Over the course of three seasons, they have faced Celta away from home to great peril. They have lost twice and drew once in the three matches, a record that belittles the Blaugrana’s status as one of the best teams in Europe.
Last year, Celta managed to gain a point from the Camp Nou fixture. The fixture always proves to be entertaining with 16 goals scored in only three matches over the last three seasons.
5. Valencia vs Atletico Madrid – 20th August 2018
Atletico Madrid open their league campaign with a tough test against Valencia. Valencia finished fourth last season, qualifying for the Champions League in the process.
They look stronger with new reinforcements in the form of Michy Batshuayi, Denis Cheryshev and Daniel Wass. Kevin Gameiro will also be facing his former club where he won the Europa League title last year. The fixture promises to be a stellar clash with both teams looking to improve on performances from last season.
4. Real Madrid vs Real Betis – 19th May 2019
The last match of the season for the Los Blancos is a very stern assignment at the Bernabeu against Real Betis. Last season, Real Betis defied all odds by snatching all three points against Real Madrid thanks to an injury time winner from Sanabria.
Betis come into the season after an impressive sixth-place finish in the 2017-18 campaign, and this time they are even stronger on paper with the arrival of Takashi Inui and Portuguese midfielder William Carvalho. Real Madrid cannot afford any slip-ups in the tie this time around as it is their last match of the season and could potentially decide the title.
3. Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona – 25th November 2018
One of the three high voltage encounters amongst the La Liga super trio, Atletico against Barcelona has always been an entertaining spectacle. Last season saw both teams end with a share of spoils in the Wanda Metropolitano stadium.
Los Blancos fans will have their eyes fixed on this contest as it could see one of the two teams slip up depending on the result. This year the encounter is even spicier because of the involvement of Antoine Griezmann. The French forward was linked heavily with the Catalans before he snubbed them to renew his contract with Atletico. This match has all the signs of being a cracker.
2. Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid – 29th September 2018
Pre-2011, this fixture was a blow-off contest with Real Madrid expected to win all three points. But since the arrival of Diego Simeone, Los Rojiblancos have grown noisier and noisier, even winning the league in 2014.
The fixture is set-up during a crucial part of the league campaign. A win for either team early into the season could see a momentum shift, and Real Madrid will be looking to prove a point after Los Rojiblancos beat them in a thrilling encounter to win the UEFA Super Cup. For the Los Blancos, the Madrid derby is a symbol of power and victory in it could see a huge boost in confidence and morale.
1. Real Madrid vs Barcelona – 3rd March 2019
Watch: Real Madrid 0-3 Barcelona
The crème de la crème of La Liga fixtures. The battle, the whole world breathtakingly waits for every season. This is a fixture whose history can be depicted in one huge book. The second leg of the El Clasico promises to be a thrilling encounter. Coming towards the end of the season, this fixture has the capability to determine the league title.
It also features thrilling individual match-ups, with the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez taking on Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane. The game also sees two of the best sets of midfielders in the world lock horns with each other. Real Madrid had an embarrassing loss last season in their own stadium and will be looking to make amends this time around, and it’s more crucial for both teams as the fixture comes in the second half of the league campaign. Ronaldo or not, the El Clasico never loses its shine.