LaLiga Santander Matchday 8 preview: Atlético de Madrid vs FC Barcelona headlines a huge weekend of action

The first LaLiga Santander fixtures of October are coming up this weekend, with several eye-catching games well worth tuning in to. But none more so than the headline fixture, the battle between Atlético de Madrid and FC Barcelona on Saturday night.

This huge weekend kicks off with a Basque derby on Friday with Athletic Club welcoming D. Alavés to Bilbao. With fans back in the stands this season, derby matches feel extra special once again and that’ll be the case at San Mamés under the floodlights. Fan favourite and hometown boy Iñaki Williams is also in line to play his 203rd consecutive game in LaLiga Santander, a number which would see him break the record for consecutive top tier appearances in Spanish history.

On Saturday afternoon, Radamel Falcao will be looking to make it four goals from the first four matches of his Rayo Vallecano career. The newly promoted side are in excellent form, with three victories in a row and a goal from their new Colombian superstar in each of them. It won’t be easy when they visit CA Osasuna, a notoriously tough away day, but Rayo Vallecano are brimming with confidence right now.

A couple of mid-table clashes follow: RCD Mallorca hosting Levante UD and Cádiz CF vs Valencia CF at the Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla. None of these four teams have been able to secure a win in the past couple of rounds, so motivation to take all three points this weekend will be sky high.

Up next on Saturday night is the blockbuster Atlético de Madrid vs FC Barcelona clash at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano (9pm CEST). Atleti’s 1-0 win in this fixture last season thanks to a very special strike from Yannick Carrasco certified their status as serious title challengers, the three points acting as a springboard to push on from and win LaLiga Santander. Diego Simeone’s men will be hoping for a similar boost this weekend and Antoine Griezmann might even be the man to deliver it against his parent club, especially after netting his first Atleti goal since his summer return in the Champions League in midweek. Barça will feel quietly confident too, though, as Ansu Fati is back and he has picked up where he left off by already finding the back of the net. This really could be an epic battle and one that could well prove crucial in this season’s title race.

Five more fixtures follow on Sunday, starting with Elche CF vs RC Celta as current Franjiverdes coach Fran Escribá takes on his former club. This could be a fascinating tactical tussle, with both these sides playing quite unique formations to start off this season.

Later, at 4.15pm CEST on Sunday, LaLiga Santander leaders Real Madrid are back in action as they visit RCD Espanyol. Having won 15 of their past 16 meetings with the Catalan club, this could be a good opportunity for Los Blancos to bounce back from some midweek European disappointment. Another storyline to look out for on Sunday afternoon: Espanyol star striker Raul De Tomas going up against his boyhood club.

Two matches kick off simultaneously at 6.30pm CEST on Sunday evening, with Getafe CF vs Real Sociedad and Villarreal CF vs Real Betis. Getafe, known as Los Azulones will be hoping to finally put a point on the board after losing each of their first seven matches of this season. They face a La Real side going through an injury crisis themselves, but still in top form. Over on Spain’s east coast, the Yellow Submarine face the Verdiblancos after their respective midweek European trips. This could be a game where squad depth proves key, and one which will see Villarreal’s Algeria international Aïssa Mandi facing the side he left just this summer.

Just like the first fixture of this matchday, the final one is a regional derby. Sunday night throws up an all-Andalusian affair: Granada CF hosting Sevilla FC. Granada are still chasing their first victory of the Robert Moreno era, so will be hoping to repeat what they achieved last year when they won this fixture 1-0.

Watch LaLiga Santander live this weekend on BeINSports.

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