La Liga: Barca Look to Neymar, Atleti Hope to Close Gap


Welcome to La Liga Talking Points, a weekly column running throughout the season in which we take a look at the key stories and talking points from Spanish football’s top flight. With an inevitable focus on the biggest teams, such as Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Barcelona, there will also be a worthwhile nod toward the rest, we take a look at how the league is shaping up each week and what to look out for going forward.

Barcelona vs. Eibar

Barcelona will host the Basque minnows Eibar at the Camp Nou on Sunday evening as they hope to build upon last weekend’s exciting win at home to Rayo Vallecano.

Barcelona will hope to – at least – remain joint top of La Liga by being Eibar on Sunday. Barca’s results have been erratic of late, in light of the absence of Lionel Messi especially.

However, last weekend’s 5-2 victory at home to Rayo Vallecano saw the Brazilian Neymar come to the fore, with him bagging four goals against the attacking-minded Rayo.

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Barca are now joint top alongside Real Madrid and – surprisingly – Celta Vigo. Barca have accrued 18 points from eight games so far this La Liga campaign.

In terms of injury news Sergi Roberto joins Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi on the treatment table for Luis Enrique’s side.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Mathieu should partner Gerard Pique in the back four, with Claudio Bravo coming back in between the sticks.

Eibar meanwhile sit 7th in the table, continuing to defy expectations amidst their minuscule budget comparative to their rivals around them in the table.

However, the Basque’s form of late has been solid at best, having only won one game in six, accruing just seven point from a possible 18 available.

Mauro Dos Santos and Aleksandar Pantic are set to continue in the visiting defence, due to Ivan Ramis’ injury.

Dani Garcia should start too, yet notably is merely one booking away from a suspension in La Liga. Borja Baston meanwhile will look to maintain his early season form up top, with Keko expected to be deployed on the right.

Barcelona vs. Eibar Match Prediction

Eibar have been a bastion of hard-work since their promotion last season, and have often came close to some big scalps against the league’s elite.

However, with Barcelona flying thanks principally to the form of Neymar, a win for the home side is inevitable.


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Atletico Madrid vs. Valencia

Atletico Madrid welcome Valencia to the Vicente Calderon on Sunday, as Diego Simeone’s men hope to close the gap on the trio of league leaders ahead of them in La Liga.

Atletico Madrid have endured a slightly less than satisfactory start of the season so far, which has seen them lose ground on Barcelona, Real Madrid and subsequently Celta Vigo.

However, despite sitting in 4th place after eight games, El Atleti are only trailing the aforementioned trio by two points and are handily placed to at the minimum draw par with them soon.

Nevertheless, on Sunday Valencia stand in their way and Simeone will know Atleti cannot afford to let their guard down.

In terms of team news Luciano Vietto misses out again due to injury, with Jackson Martinez set to partner Antoine Griezmann up top, while Koke and Angel Correa are expected to be the wide options for the hosts.

Valencia meanwhile currently lie 8th in La Liga, on just 12 points. Nuno Santo’s men have been in good form of late however, accruing 10 points from a possible 18 available.

Valencia were victorious on Tuesday night as they beat Gent 2-1 in the Champions League, keeping hopes of qualification to the knockout stages alive.

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  • In their last domestic game Valencia also ended the game in a winning position, dispatching with Malaga, winning 3-0 at the Mastalla.

    Key player Aymen Abdennour meanwhile, is a doubt, but could be rushed back for a big clash.

    Notably, Paco Alcacer should continue up top, with Pablo Piatti and Sofiane Feghouli preferred out wide.

    Atletico Madrid vs. Valencia Match Prediction

    Sunday poses a tough test for Atletico Madrid, but is often such tough tests in which Simeone’s men show their best.

    However, Valencia are in better form of late and will not be put to the sword lightly. A slender victory for Atelti or perhaps even a draw are the likely result here in a tough to call match.