The Spanish first division is back after a short winter break.
In the LaLiga gameweek 19, leaders FC Barcelona are two points ahead of second-placed Real Madrid going into the final round of games before LaLiga Santander 2019/20 reaches its midway point and crowns its [unofficial] winter champions.
Upcoming evening sees Ernesto Valverde’s side visit city neighbours RCD Espanyol -whose new coach Abelardo will be making his debut after Pablo Machin was sacked-, as the new year begins with another ‘derbi barcelonés’. Recent history is with the blaugrana, whose last defeat in this fixture came in 2007, when Valverde was Espanyol boss. Barça captain Lionel Messi usually enjoys meeting the neighbors, having 22 goals in his 25 LaLiga city derbies – including three long-range free kicks last season.
Real Madrid travel to the Spanish capital’s southern suburbs earlier to face neighbors Getafe CF. Los Blancos finished 2019 having dropped just behind Barça after three straight draws, while Getafe sat sixth through the winter break having won six of their last seven LaLiga games. This game finished 0-0 last season and recent form suggests another tight affair.
2020’s first LaLiga game takes place as Real Valladolid welcome CD Leganes – the hosts spent the break just above the drop zone having drawn three of their last four LaLiga games, while Javier Aguirre’s Lega climbed off the bottom with seven points from the last nine available.
Later on is one of LaLiga’s historic fixtures as Sevilla FC host Athletic Club – both these teams had excellent ends to last year and are chasing European qualification spots. The Andalusians have the upper hand in this fixture recently with wins in each of the last four seasons, while the Basques have won just one of their nine away games so far in 2019/20.
The fixtures start at Mestalla where Valencia CF welcome SD Eibar, with Los Che still unbeaten in front of their own fans so far this term as they hunt a top four spot, while Los Armeros enjoyed their break due to a badly needed three points against Granada just before heading off.
Later that afternoon, Atletico de Madrid are at home to Levante UD in a clash of two teams who went on holidays having won both their two final LaLiga games of 2019, with frontmen Alvaro Morata and Roger Marti having hit goalscoring form.
The upcoming schedule begins in Granada CF where RCD Mallorca are the visitors – promoted together last summer from LaLiga SmartBank both teams will have happily spent the holidays outside the relegation places but will know things do not get any easier from here.
Real Sociedad against Villarreal CF brings together two of LaLiga’s most entertaining teams over the last 12 months – both teams also finished 2019 with two wins and a draw in their final three games, so will be looking forward to continuing that form into the new year.
By contrast D. Alaves and Real Betis had two weeks to think over defeats in their final games of the calendar year – meaning both will be eager to start afresh when they meet at Mendizorrotza, where Betis have won three times in their last six visits.
The final game is RC Celta at home to CA Osasuna at Abanca Balaidos. Celta spent the winter break in 18th spot and in need of a boost, while Osasuna will have enjoyed the break in 12th position having impressed on their return to LaLiga Santander this season.