KAMPALA: Two of Liga Santander’s biggest protagonists seek a quick riposte to falling out of the Uefa Champions League when domestic action resumes this weekend. Already three points off title pace, FC Barcelona must negotiate a potential banana skin away to Valencia – nicknamed ‘The Black Breasts’ in Catalonia for their penchant for upsetting Blaugrana – as boss Xavi Hernandez tries to atone for their financially ruinous relegation to the Europa League following Wednesday’s 0-3 setback at the hands of Bayern Munich.
Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone is under equally immense pressure to put together a domestic challenge after the Wanda Metropolitano club fell out of Europe’s premier club competition as a result of a 2-2 draw with Xabi Alonso’s hitherto off colour Bayer Leverkusen. Atleti know they can’t afford any further slip ups at relegation threatened Cadiz as they plot to bridge an eight point deficit on leaders Real Madrid, who date Girona in a perfectly winnable home rubber.
Liga Santander action gets underway on Friday night with Real Mallorca at home to Espanyol. Saturday’s menu features Almeria hosting Celta Vigo, Cadiz versus Atletico Madrid and Barcelona travelling to the Mestalla, before new Sevilla manager Jorge Sampaoli tries to build on the Andalusians impressive 3-0 Champions League victory over FC Copenhagen when they host unpredictable Rayo Vallecano at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
Newly appointed Villarreal boss Quique Setien will meanwhile need to apply his best wits when the Yellow Submarine travel to Athletic Bilbao’s intimidating San Mames less than 72 hours after hosting Hapoel Beer Sheva in a Europa Conference League tie. Experience in adroit use of squad rotation will also come to the fore when Real Sociedad host Real Betis on Sunday. Both clubs were in European action on Thursday night. The match day closes with winless Elche at home to Getafe on Monday night.
Mallorca v Espanyol
Almeria v Celta Vigo, Cadiz v Atletico Madrid, Valencia v Barcelona, Sevilla v Rayo Vallecano
Osasuna v Real Valladolid, Real Madrid v Girona, Athletic Bilbao v Villarreal, Real Sociedad v Real Betis
Elche v Getafe