Analysis: Four things to look out for in Spain's Matchday 26-Xinhua

Analysis: Four things to look out for in Spain's Matchday 26

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-02-23 21:15:30

MADRID, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- Matchday 26 in La Liga sees an emotional return to the Santiago Bernabeu for a Real Madrid legend, while FC Barcelona have to show that their midweek display in Naples was no flash in the pan. Here are four things to look forward to:

1. Ramos' return to Bernabeu

Sergio Ramos can expect a hero's return when he goes back to the Santiago Bernabeu with Sevilla on Sunday.

The 37-year-old joined Real Madrid in 2005 and made 671 first team appearances before moving to PSG in 2021. He returned to Sevilla at the start of the season and although Ramos is showing his age, his experience is one reason why the team have started to recover under Quique Sanchez Flores.

Two wins and a draw from three games have lifted Sevilla clear of the bottom three and they will be optimistic against a rival still without Antonio Rudiger, Eder Militao, David Alaba and Jude Bellingham through injury and with Dani Carvajal and Eduardo Camavinga suspended.

Real Madrid disappointed last weekend away to Rayo Vallecano and Ramos will be thinking of a 'happy return.'

2. Can Barcelona consolidate on midweek display?

FC Barcelona produced one of their best displays in recent months in their 1-1 draw away to Napoli in the Champions League on Wednesday night, but the question is, Can Xavi Hernandez's side build on that performance when they entertain Getafe on Saturday afternoon?

The La Liga calendar has given Barca little recovery time and Xavi may have to rest players such as Inigo Martinez, Yamine Lamal (who is playing a lot of games for a 16-year-old) and perhaps, Pedri, who has suffered a lot of muscle problems in recent seasons.

Getafe will travel to Barcelona looking to make themselves tough to beat and in Borja Mayoral, they have a striker able to pounce on any defensive error from an error-prone Barca back line.

3. Chance for Athletic Bilbao to keep up the pressure

Athletic Bilbao finished last season with 51 points, just missing out on a place in Europe, but their impressive displays this campaign mean that after 25 matches, they have already amassed 49 points: the best total at this stage of the season since the club last won the league title in 1984.

The increased dominance of Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona means a title challenge is much harder these days, but the club are currently fifth, only two points outside of the top-four and have a Copa del Rey semifinal return leg next Thursday when they defend a 1-0 lead at home to Atletico Madrid.

Bilbao visit Betis on Sunday and coach Ernesto Valverde has to decide how strong a side to field against a rival that suffered a painful exit from Europe on Thursday and will be without 10 first team regulars, including Isco and Ayoze Perez through injury and suspension.

4. Chance for Cadiz

Incredible as it seems, Cadiz could move out of the bottom three of La Liga if they win their home game against Celta Vigo on Sunday lunchtime.

Although Cadiz haven't won since September 1 and are without a goal in their last five matches, victory against Celta would take them level on points with their rivals and give them a better head-to-head goal difference after a draw in Vigo earlier this season.

That may be easier said than done, given that they haven't scored since the arrival of Mauricio Pellegrino as first team coach four games ago, and have just 15 goals all season.

Defeat to Celta would leave Cadiz cut adrift in the relegation zone and give Celta a huge boost, but if Cadiz end their six-month wait for a win, it could be the end of Rafa Benitez at Celta.