Welcome to the preview for Week 12 of the 2015/16 La Liga Season which sees Sevilla head to Anoeta to take on La Real who are under a new coach, Las Palmas head to Mestalla, Atleti go to the Benito Villamarin to face Betis and if that's not enough for you we have the Galician Derby, the Madrid Derby oh and that El Clasico between Los Blancos and Barca, ready for this one are we?
THIS BLOG SUPPORTS THE 'VILLAR VETE YA' CAMPAIGN
LA LIGA NEWS
Sociedad sack Coach David Moyes who will receive a pay off between 3 and 4 million Euros
Sociedad appoint former Barca B trainer Eusebio Sacristan until the end of the season
Granada have made their worst ever start to a La Liga season
Simeone whistled by Atleti fans after subbing Carrasco in the 1-0 win over new boys Sporting Gijon at the Calderon
Juanfran and Ramos pull out of the La Roja squad to face England and Belgium with Bilbao right-back Oscar De Marcos and Real Madrid central defender Nacho called up as their replacements
Anti-Riot units and Guardia Civil brought in for La Roja's friendly against England in Alicante over fears of hooliganism with many local papers fearing trouble from visiting supporters with the tag 'Benidorm hooligans' being used
LA LIGA IN EUROPE
ZENIT V VALENCIA(TUESDAY)
BARCA V ROMA(TUESDAY)
MONCHENGLADBACH V SEVILLA(WEDNESDAY)
ATLETI V GALATASARAY(WEDNESDAY)
SHAKHTAR V REAL MADRID(WEDNESDAY)
AUGSBURG V BILBAO(THURSDAY)
VILLARREAL V RAPID WIEN(THURSDAY)
REAL SOCIEDAD V SEVILLA(SATURDAY 3PM UK TIME, 4PM SPANISH TIME)
La Real are in the relegation zone and just like last November have 9 points from eleven games played and just like last November now have a new coach after sacking David Moyes and appointing Eusebio as their new coach who's first home game is against Sevilla at Anoeta in the first game of Week 12.
As an Englishman who follows La Liga who loves Spanish football it hurts to see a British coach fail and be sacked by a La Liga club it really does and this for me has to be a wake up call for British football.
Fair play to Moyes for coming over and having a go in La Liga as a coach because not enough British coaches have the bottle to do so and very few British players have the bottle to come over as a player and play in La Liga either.
I've mentioned British football alot and why I fell out of love with it and now utterly utterly despise the club game in British football, I'll always love and support my national side England but the British football game at CLUB LEVEL is something I utterly despise.
It brainwashes people into thinking it's any good compared to other European leagues, it treats fans like customers in a shop who are buying a product, its pricing stinks and the overall hype around it is ridiculous.
British football is very poor at club level, its coaches are very poor and its players are very poor and when they are put on the big stage in Europe they're exposed and exposed visually and that's what happened for Moyes at La Real.
Moyes is a great bloke, I've nothing against him but his failure to learn enough Spanish to communicate to his players in Spanish over the year he spent in Spain is one of the main reasons to his downfall and his exit from La Real.
Moyes wasn't liked by man of the fans or the players who were fed up of his red faced finger pointing to them in training because that's the only way he could communicate with them as he didn't speak any Spanish or Basque and the players in end became fed up of those finger pointing actions in training sessions.
He lost the support of the players and many of those players had stopped playing for him and you could see that in the defeat to Las Palmas last time out and in other games this season too, many of the players also didn't believe in his ideas or his tactics.
Moyes tried to make La Real play like a side in the British leagues and to want to do that in La Liga which is the best league in the world, the most technical league in the world and years and years ahead of any league in British football it's a stupid idea.
His comments after the Basque Derby which ended in a 0-0 draw when he said 'It was like a British Derby' that didn't go down too well in the local press or with the La Real supporters either let me tell you.
Tactically Moyes was miles away from anything required at La Liga and was inept and well out of his depth tactically in La Liga, his subsitutions at times were too late and even when they weren't they remained baffling.
British Coaches with the exception of Phil Neville who's showing promise at Los Che since being made assistant to Nuno this summer are extremely poor and their methods are so outdated it's unbelievable and Moyes's failure in La Liga must be a wake up call for British football if it's to improve.
I do feel that Moyes's failings as coach of La Real will put a La Liga club off in future regarding appointing a British coach and it's understandable, Apirrebay the La Real president stayed supporting Moyes right until the very end but the board wanted him gone and the Las Palmas defeat suffocated Apirrebay so much so that in the end he knew he had to remove Moyes from his position.
Moyes will receive a pay off from the club that will see him receive between 3 and 4 Million Euros so it's a costly pay off for the club but it's one that has to be made unfortunately because this side is top seven material and shouldn't be in the relegation zone or anywhere near it for that matter to be honest.
Moyes knew his fate and his face at the EGC at full-time said it all and he knew what was coming, he boarded a flight the same night to Manchester and spent the weekend there to celebrate his daughter's birthday.
Moyes planned to travelled back to San Sebastian on Sunday but the flight to Bilbao was cancelled and Moyes received the news of his sacking on Sunday night, the flight was rescheduled for the Monday morning but Moyes wasn't on board and boarded a flight to Bilbao later that day.
Moyes met with Apperibay and the club board face to face and his assistant Billy Mckinlay and himself were no longer part of the club, it's devastating for Moyes and this will hurt him, I wish well for the future but it's the right decision from the club.
La Real's new coach will be former Barca B coach Eusebio Sacristan who will take over until the end of this season and has previously managed Barca B, Celta and Valladolid and as a player earnt 15 Caps with La Roja and played for a number of La Liga clubs including Barca, Celta and Atleti.
The 51 year-old is a coach who will make La Real better to watch and he believes in one-touch football and has a good reputation as a coach in Spain and he should take this Basque club closer to the top seven than they have been in the last two seasons but their bad start to this season under Moyes leaves them up against it.
Moyes's win percentage was 29% and he won just 12 of his 42 games in charge, losing 15 and drawing 15 with La Real scoring 48 and conceding 52, he picked up 46 points from his 38 games in La Liga which isn't a relegation tally but it's a tally nowhere near a side who have desires of a top seven finish.
A 29% win percentage is nowhere near good enough for a La Real coach and Eusebio will have to improve on that and he needs results and fast to avoid La Real being in the relegation battle come the New Year.
Eusebio has four tough fixtures to start with with Sevilla at home and Barca away before a Basque Derby at Anoeta and a trip to the Spanish Capital to take on Getafe at the Coliseum and La Real are without a home success this season.
Sevilla are like Bilbao were last season it's as simple as that, Bilbao last season were in a Champions League in which they were the second best team in it but they started the season in poor form and inconsistent.
When Bilbao played well in their Champions League campaign it was too late and only that saw them finish third and exit into the Europa and overall last season were poor and far from their best form, we'd see a few glimpses and a good run of form and performances here and there but that was it.
Whether Sevilla continue like they have so far this season all season remains to be seen but if they had actually turned up against City in their Champions League matchday 4 fixture at the Pizjuan they'd have comfortably beaten the English side who are an average European outfit who looked tourists at the Camp Nou last season.
But Sevilla are inconsistent this season so far and against Los Blancos just days after being knocked out of the Champions League by a side who they are better than they show us glimpses by producing a superb performance to end Los Blancos's unbeaten record this season by recording a 3-1 home success.
It's so frustrating to see them produce a performance just days after losing to a side in the Champions League a competition they worked so hard to get into last season who they are more than capable of beating easily.
Sevilla's motivation now must be to again challenge Los Che for that fourth spot to return to the Champions League next season and to have another way into the competition by like they did last season and that's winning the Europa League and to win it for a third successive season would be special, it's the ultimate motivation perhaps.
Immobile finally showed why he was purchased in the summer against Los Blancos but again we need to see more of it, Konoplyanka is the new signing that's proving his worth the most so far and he drove Sevilla on to success against Los Blancos.
Konoplyanka is an excellent player and he took the game by the scruff of the neck for Sevilla against Los Blancos and won it for them he was by far their best player on the night but when Sevilla don't turn up he doesn't either.
It took Sevilla almost 30 minutes to turn up against Los Blancos though and they should have been out of the game but they weren't, as Emery said in his pre-match press conference ahead of the game 'We've still not seen a good Sevilla for 90 minutes' he's right and even after that success over Los Blancos we're still yet to see a good Sevilla play for the full 90 minutes yet.
Sevilla now must use that victory over Los Blancos as a springboard because they have to get some consistency now to enter the New Year in a good position in the table, they must beat the lesser sides and more importantly put a good run of results together and with Los Che coming up in one of their games soon plus the Seville Derby against Betis next month it has to be the time they put that good run of results together it really has to be.
Sevilla are six points off the top four and three points behind Los Che so despite a poor start this season they aren't too far behind now and that shows you how massive and how important the win over Los Blancos was.
Sevilla last season away from home were naive and struggled to keep a clean sheet, they'd always give their opponents a chance defensively and this season they've failed to win away from home in any competition including La Liga of course.
They've played five away games in La Liga this season and those have seen them play away to Malaga, Levante, Las Palmas, Eibar and Villarreal and they've only scored in four of their five away games this season and only managed to find the net three times on their travels this season and that's poor for Sevilla's standard and the quality they have in their side going forward.
This fixture was one of the games of last season and one I really did enjoy with La Real eventually winning a goal crazy and incredible game 4-3 and they made that early Sunday kick-off exciting and full of goals for once too!
It's a long old trip up North from the South of Spain for Sevilla for this one and they haven't enjoyed their trips to Anoeta with them failing to win on any of their last four visits with three defeats and one draw.
Sevilla last won in San Sebastian against La Real back in January 2011 in a 3-2 away success and their other two wins in San Sebastian against La Real came in April 2006 and September 2006 so they have history of success here even if you have go back nine years.
This is going to be a cracker of a match and a fascinating one too because what response and improvement will we now see from this under-performing La Real side under a new coach now and will Sevilla days before that Champions League away game in Germany against Borussia Monchengladbach actually put another good performance in or show more inconsistency?
REAL MADRID V BARCA(SATURDAY 5.15PM UK TIME, 6.15PM SPANISH TIME)
It's Week 12 and it's the first El Clasico of the season and just like last season it's at Santiago Bernabeu in the Spanish Capital and off the field tensions are rising between Spain and Catalonia making this the most tense El Clasico politically in some time, this one could boil over.
As I mentioned after the 1-0 home success over PSG in the Champions League which sealed Los Blancos's progression to the last 16 of the competition by winning the group I do feel that the club is about to explode into a major full blown scale crisis soon.
Los Blancos could win 10-0 and you'd still see negatives in the papers the morning after the game just as I saw and read the morning after the PSG game so Benitez can never win because he'll always be criticised.
Benitez has very very few if any people in the Madrid press willing to stand up for him, there's too many Madrid based journalists that want to label this Madrid side as a defensive one but the damning fact is that this side is certainly not a defensive one.
What concerns me is that Los Blancos are ninth in La Liga in terms of the amount of chances they've allowed the opposition to create against them and that's a very worrying statistic and without Navas in goal they're exposed in the most devastating way.
Kiko Casilla received criticism after their 3-2 defeat away to Sevilla at the Sanchez Pizjuan last time out but for me he's a good second choice keeper for Los Blancos and at the end of the day who do you want as second choice?
No-one who is world class is going to be happy or accept being on the bench at a club like Real Madrid and even Keylor Navas was leaving the club if De Gea was signed this summer and he is in my opinion world class.
Navas is the best goalkeeper in the world in my opinion and has saved Los Blancos so many times this season and in effect papered over those cracks but they were exposed in the most devastating way in the Andalusian Capital last time out.
Casilla is made the scapegoat but whilst some will say he's not a good enough keeper for Los Blancos keeper I think you must look at it and say that he isn't a bad keeper, he is a good keeper and then also say to yourself, is there anyone better than him who will be happy to be second choice and stay at the club? I say no.
Something right now is wrong with this Los Blancos side and we saw it in Seville as soon as they conceded the equaliser, Bale frustrates me as he did last season because when he reaches the box he isn't got the quality to finish off a chance I would expect from a Los Blancos player in a big game.
Isco was excellent and so was James who came on for Isco in the second half and immediately opened up Sevilla and created a number of chances but you can't play both, Casemiro disappointed on the night and he's been excellent this season.
Defensively against Sevilla you can't blame it all on Casilla because although losing Ramos to injury had a big effect on the side and the loss of Marcelo through injury too the defending was quite simply awful.
Cristiano as he has shown with his free-kicks last season and this season has proved that he is declining and in games this season with the chances he's missed he's shown further proof of decline and he showed it in the second half in Seville in the worst light yet.
Cristiano missed at least four guilt edge chances in Seville and it didn't stop at four and to be honest if he puts two of them then Los Blancos win the game and their best player saves them and wins the game.
Right now though is he their best player, I'm not sure you know and at this moment in time I would have to give a resounding and alarming no, he's been poor by his high standards this season and his body language is alarming.
Cristiano has a film and book about his life and career at the moment and is promoting it but he just doesn't seem bothered when he steps onto the pitch in that Los Blancos strip and his actions in Seville should bring further alarm to the Madridistas.
Cristiano in one incident had two team-mates in great positions inside the area but decided to fire a long-range effort over the bar and as those two team-mates showed their disgust and frustration towards him Cristiano showed no reaction and turned away.
Cristiano as I've said for a month or so now won't be in La Liga next season and will be playing in Ligue 1 which is the French top division and he will be playing for PSG so he'll be at the Bernabeu next season if the clubs meet but we won't see him in La Liga.
Listen though for me Cristiano is still a fantastic player and is the second best player I've ever seen but his influence on this side isn't there anymore, he'll score a goal or two against a lesser side and score a penalty now and again but in the big games when Los Blancos need him he hasn't turned up this season.
PSG is going to be a new challenge for him and maybe he'll flourish in Paris and the new challenge will drive him on and he'll have motivation of breaking new records over there too and winning the Champions League for PSG would be very high motivation for him before he most likely retires in the MLS.
It's the right time to sell Cristiano and 100 million Euros would be good business and his departure will see players like James, Isco and co flourish even more so like Neymar and Suarez are this season.
The third goal Los Blancos conceded in Seville was the worst of the lot and one that won't just anger Benitez it'll alarm him because the cross was allowed to come in unchallenged and the Los Blancos defence just stood like statues as Llorente jumped unchallenged to head home past Kiko Casilla who just stood there as if to say 'What can I do?'
The response from Los Blancos in Seville was literally non existent too it just felt flat and it highlights there is something wrong at the club right now but we will see in the Clasico if that was just one bad performance which gives them a wake-up call.
The media reaction to Los Blancos's defeat in Seville was scathing and the Catalan press didn't hold back either with Mundo Deportivo describing the defeat as a 'Catastrophe' whilst SPORT had the headline 'Madrid shipwrecked without Keylor'
In Madrid MARCA had the headline 'Total ruin' slamming the lack of pride in the performance aswell whilst Benitez's post match press conference in Seville saw him with comments such as 'El Clasico will be different, I hope we respond well'
Under Benitez I do see a more balanced Madrid side than I've seen under Ancelotti because although they were probably better to watch going forward under Ancelotti they're more organised and balanced under Benitez.
The defensive record is brilliant and the stats show that but the chances they have allowed their opponents this season is far too high but even under Ancelotti we didn't see a good Los Blancos defensively.
Under Ancelotti it was completely based on attacking which meant it was a disjointed way with the defence more open that it is this season whereas under Benitez there's still the idea to attack and score goals but in a more balanced way so that the defence isn't as open.
When Madrid's opponents reach the final third though they are able to create chances easily which is alarming and some of the defending remains poor just as it has in recent seasons but the problem Los Blancos have is that the front three including Cristiano don't do enough of the defensive work to help the side.
The defeat in Seville was the first big test Benitez has failed so far as coach of Real Madrid and has passed tests in other big games by drawing the Madrid Derby at the Calderon and winning away at San Mames and Balaidos and a superb 6-0 away success at Espanyol too which was their one of their best performances this season even if Espanyol were utterly dreadful defensively and made it far too easy for them on the day.
Los Blancos have kept six clean sheets in La Liga this season and scored a total of 26 goals in their eleven games so far this season and conceded just seven despite the fact they've conceded in each of their last three La Liga games.
Three of those seven goals conceded in La Liga this season came away in Seville last time out and one of them came in their last La Liga home game which saw them record a 3-1 home success over new boys Las Palmas.
Los Blancos have won four of their five home games this season in La Liga scoring a total of 12 goals and conceding just once which came against Las Palmas as I've mentioned but 12 goals from five home games is a little lower than what many Madridistas would probably like.
They slipped up at home against Malaga this season in a 0-0 draw but were unlucky in that game creating a high number of chances but in my opinion could have done more with their intensity in the final third to have won that game.
Los Blancos won't face a top side in La Liga at Santiago Bernabeu after the Clasico until the end of February so they have some great home games coming up where there will be little margin for error and their next two home games after the Clasico are both Madrid Derbies.
Los Blancos despite wins at Balaidos, Cornella and San Mames plus the 1-1 draw at the Calderon in the Madrid Derby a place where they lost 4-0 in last season's Madrid Derby in La Liga will enter this Clasico three points behind leaders Barca and if Benitez loses this then the white handkerchiefs will be on full display in the stands at Santiago Bernabeu.
THE MADRIDISTAS ARE READY, LOS BLANCOS ARE READY AND THE SANTIAGO BERNABEU IS READY
The Blaugrana fly into the Spanish Capital for this one as league leaders and in their best form of this season so far and after having finally managed to gain some momentum defensively but let's not forget how poorly they started this season.
They started the season with two 1-0 victories and many thought that their brilliant defensive record which was the best in La Liga last season had carried into this season but they were to be wrong and they found that out from Week 3 onwards.
The side fell a goal down at the Calderon against Atleti but thanks to a sensational free-kick from Neymar and a late winner from Messi they came through a very important and difficult away fixture against a title rival despite conceding.
The week after that they played bottom of the table Levante a side who struggle for goals as it is and even they managed to score past this Barca side despite losing 4-1 and just days after that Barca's poor defensive start to the season was finally punished.
It was Week 5 on a midweek night when Barca found themselves in Galicia in the City of Vigo to face a difficult away game against a brilliant Celta side who had started the season on fire and full of confidence.
At Balaidos they missed chances infront of goal but defensively they were exposed and a terrific Celta side punished them in devastating fashion and in the end recorded a 4-1 home success over the Catalans and it could have been more than that in the end.
They looked to bounce back days later infront of their own fans at Camp Nou against new boys Las Palmas which gave them a great opportunity to bounce back but to also keep a clean sheet but it wasn't to be the case.
Las Palmas scored past them and at the end Barca were hanging on and could have easily drawn that game against the weakest side in La Liga and the ability to improve defensively saw them punished a week later.
Week 7 saw them head to the Andalusian Capital for a Saturday afternoon clash with Seville where they drew 2-2 last season after they failed to hold on to the 2-0 lead they had established and at the Pizjuan their poor defensive start to the season continued.
Sevilla were excellent against Barca in that game but Barca despite having more than enough chances to come away from the Pizjuan with the three points defensively they were punished and lost a game for the second time this season after just seven games played.
Their two games after that came at Camp Nou against Eibar and Rayo and in both games they struggled and conceded two against Rayo and one against Eibar and had to in the end win ugly against Eibar.
The turning point was in their last away game in La Liga which came in the Spanish Capital as they won 2-0 away to Getafe and managed to put in an excellent performance without Messi and keep a clean sheet by being solid defensively, their 3-0 win at Camp Nou against the Yellow Submarine and the two clean sheets against BATE in the Champions League further add to the fact that Barca have finally gained momentum defensively.
However I must point out that none of last season's top four have played them since this new resurgence and regained momentum defensively so we can't praise them too much other than to say it's been an improvement which could be game changing for this side as they seek history by retaining the Champions League this season which no side has ever done.
Bravo's return to the side has been one of the reasons for their regained momentum defensively but his recent form has been another key reason too and he is in the form he was last season if not better to be honest with you.
Pique came out after the Villarreal game and said that they aim to depart Barajas after the game as leaders of La Liga and it's clear that the strategy for this one is 'take-off as leaders and land back in the Catalan capital as leaders'
Pique knows what is coming his way in this one from minute one to minute 90, he got it at the Coliseum away to Getafe and he gets it in most grounds in Spain and he'll certainly get it at the Santiago Bernabeu for this one and that's constant whistling when he is on the ball.
Barca's front three were sincilating last season and sizzling hot in form scoring a record number of goals for an attacking trio in La Liga and will go down in Barca history and the history of football as for me the best ever attacking trio to play the game.
The relationship the front three have on the field and the understanding and ability they have is key to it but what almost certainly helps and adds to the success of that front three is their relationship off th field which is fantastic.
A prime example of that is the pictures we've seen online of Suarez driving Messi around the city during his recovery and the pictures they post online of themselves hanging out together in public and their off field relationship certainly adds something to this front three, they will fight for each other and none of them are in the slightest selfish.
Without Messi we needed to see Neymar and Suarez step up to the plate because Barca haven't planned very well so far for the time when Messi starts to decline and when he does eventually retire which in my opinion will be at Barca.
Messi will retire at Barca and Ronaldo won't retire at Los Blancos but whilst Ronaldo is declining Messi is still at the very top of his game and I can see him coaching some of the kids at La Masia after his footballing career ends I really can, whether he does or not time will tell.
When I've visited the Camp Nou Neymar is the club's new poster boy and without Messi he's really stepped up to the plate and he's playing better now than he was last season and he was absolutely brilliant last season.
He won't admit it himself but I believe Neymar is enjoying the chance and opportunity to play without Messi because although he loves playing with Messi, when Messi isn't there Neymar is the star and he's loving stepping into the spotlight and shining.
Suarez has stepped up to the plate too but he's playing the same way and in the same brilliant form he does and has when Messi has played so nothing's changed with him but Neymar won't leave Barca despite the rumours.
The rumours are coming out as Neymar's contract talks are going to continue and be long drawn but eventually he'll commit to the club for a very long time and he'll get the best deal possible financially thanks to these rumours too, bargaining tools as you were.
You just don't leave this front three or this club to play anywhere else it's as simple as that and Neymar will know that when Messi declines and finally does retire he'll be the main star in this team and he'll relish it.
Barca have won more games than any other side in La Liga this season with 9 wins from their eleven games, no draws and two defeats which have come away to Celta and Sevilla, two fixtures they took four points from last season.
On their travels this season they've won three and lost two and drawn none of their five away games so far this season and scored seven goals on their travels in total this season and conceded seven goals too.
Barca have conceded in three of their last four away games but kept two clean sheets in their five
away games this season and won one of the three away games in which they've conceded in and that's a worrying statistic.
Barca's next away game after this will see them on the East Coast for another very very difficult away fixture as they head to Valencia and to the Mestalla to take on Nuno's men in a fixture that needed a last minute winner from a corner to get three points from last season.
They'll then face Gijon, Espanyol and Malaga in the three away games after the trip to Mestalla and in terms of really difficult away games for them they only have two remaining and that's trips to Anoeta in April and to El Madrigal in March meaning Barca's run-in on their travels after the trip to Mestalla in Week 14 doesn't look all that bad.
Infact after the trip to Mestalla Barca won't face a top side until the visit of Simeone's men at the end of January meaning that despite their trip to Japan in December Barca could still be looking rosy in the table come the New Year.
I've always said Messi won't make the Clasico and I still stand by it and I also said that even if he does make the squad he won't be 100% fit whether he's on the bench or in the eleven and it's a risk Barca shouldn't take.
Messi should NOT be involved in the Clasico and to name him in the squad for it would be a risk that's not needed and Luis Enrique and the staff at Barca must show they've learnt lessons from the past and not rush him back.
I love Messi he's the best player to ever play the game and I love watching him and as everyone I'd love to see him back in the Clasico but I'd rather see him miss it and see a Messi not rushed back and a Messi ready and 100% fit heading into the second half of the season.
There's also the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan in December that Messi will want to be ready for and the games in the second half of the season and plus the trip to Mestalla in the club's next away game and that's why Messi shouldn't be risked for the Clasico and I do feel he won't make this as Barca in my opinion have learnt from past mistakes in rushing players back including Messi.
Losing Rakitic through injury for this one is a big blow to the Barca midfield but in Sergi Roberto they have a good replacement and although he's not as good as Rakitic he's still shown in the games he's played this season that he can do a job in that midfield and with Busquets and Iniesta in there with him he has experienced heads next to him and world-class quality too.
Busquets is the best holding midfielder in the world and one of the best midfielders in the World there's no doubt it and for me he deserves so much more credit than he is getting because he doesn't get anywhere near enough credit.
Busquets protects the Barca defence so well, his vision and passing is quite incredible but because of Xavi and Iniesta's brilliance in the past for Barca he's been overlooked and hidden away and even now with Rakitic and Iniesta he's still overlooked.
Holding midfielders are only seen when the team is defending you rarely see them when the team are going forward and this is why they don't get the credit they deserve for me and they're only mentioned when their side concedes a goal and it's wrong.
THE BLAUGRANA ARE COMING TO TOWN FOR THE BIGGEST GAME IN THE WORLD, IT'S OF COURSE THE CLASICO, LOS BLANCOS ALLOCATED THE CATALAN SIDE THEIR USUAL SMALL ALLOCATION WHICH WAS SNAPPED UP STRAIGHT AWAY SO THERE'LL BE 500 LOS CULES INSIDE THE AWAY SECTION OF THE SANTIAGO BERNABEU FOR THE CLASICO AND BELIEVE ME THEY'RE READY, MORE THAN READY.
Tactically this will be interesting to see how Benitez approaches it because will he go with the three holding midfielders idea that worked so well at San Mames and gave them a 2-1 away success or will he go with the side I and many others expect.
The Los Blancos eleven I believe Benitez will select for the Clasico is this:
The one he should go with is to replace Bale with James and to play Isco instead of Casemiro and be more positive but it's highly unlikely and it's a game where we need to see players like Bale and Cristiano produce because this season they've fell well below par.
For the Blaugrana it's going to be the side I think many expect and is easy to predict given the fact that Rakitic is out with injury and Vidal and Turan can't be registered until January meaning they can't play until then, anyway here's the Blaugrana eleven I believe Enrique will select for the Clasico:
Enrique though could surprise us by ditching the 4-3-3 and going with a 4-4-2 with Busquets and Mascherano in a holding role with Sergi Roberto and Iniesta in the forward area of the midfield and taking up a more attacking role with Mathieu replacing Mascherano as part of the Blaugrana back four but it's unlikely in my opinion.
The Clasico has been played several times in La Liga and in the Copa and the Super Cup in Spain but it's also been played in the UEFA Champions League back in 2011 as the Blaugrana edged out Los Blancos over the two legs to reach the final in which they were successful in as they won the UEFA Champions League and it tasted even sweeter by reaching the final after knocking out Los Blancos.
In the Clasicos that have been played in the Copa Los Blancos have dominated them and in La Liga it's been mixed between the two with both sides enjoying more or less the same success rate in terms of Clasico victories in La Liga.
The Blaugrana have gained an edge though in the recent Clasicos in La Liga with them winning three of the last five Clasicos against Los Blancos but before those three wins their last El Clasico victory against Los Blancos in La Liga came back in 2011 in a 3-1 away success.
Los Blancos may have lost in Seville and been poor but let's not forget that they have a better defensive record than the Blaugrana this season and that they have only lost one game this season and a win here will see them go back to the top of La Liga.
As James Rodriguez said after the Sevilla game We're Real' and that's absolutely spot on, this Clasico is never clearcut and its outcome is incredibly tough to predict so don't be brainwashed into thinking this Clasico is clearcut in term of its outcome because it never is and this one is no different.
Benitez for me is a fantastic coach tactically and despite the failure in Seville last time he's passed big tests this season away at San Mames, Balaidos and the Vicente Calderon as he yet again proves that tactically in the big games he's more than up to the job.
Los Blancos need their best players to perform to their highest level and finally have to get Ronaldo and Bale producing because they so far haven't this season and Ronaldo's body language must be improved for this one and considering it's the Clasico I'm certain it will be and he'll be fully fully motivated believe me.
For the Blaugrana just like Los Blancos they need their best players to perform to their highest level and need Neymar and Suarez to continue stepping up to the plate as they have done in recent games showing excellent form and they'll also need the young and inexperienced Munir and Sergi Roberto to play without fear and perform in this game, the key heads and experience in Iniesta and Busquets in particular will be key for Munir and Sergi Roberto in this Clasico.
There's been many great moments in the Clasico and I have many favourites but for me my favourite moment in the Clasico is Messi's solo goal in that first leg back in 2011 at Santiago Bernabeu which made sure Barca had one foot in the final ahead of the second leg, it was just pure genius and is my favourite Clasico moment.
Here's the goal-
Spain's general election is coming next month and with the Catalonia parliament now formally approving the independence process tensions are increasingly high, Catalonia wants to break away from Spain as I've discussed in length before and the Government in Madrid always have and always will reject any attempts.
This fixture will as it always is be declared high risk by the Policia and Guardia Civil and after this year's political events and with the general election just weeks away it's possibly the most tense Clasico in the last decade politically.
MADRID IS WAITING AND READY
Tweet @AdamLaLiga and @TheSportMatrix with your favourite Clasico moment using the hashtag #TSMClasicoMoment
Tweet @AdamLaLiga and @TheSportMatrix with your prediction for the Clasico using the hashtag #TSMClasico
Tweet@AdamLaLiga and @TheSportMatrix with the team you'll be supporting in the Clasico using the hashtag #TSMClasicoTeam
Tweet@AdamLaLiga and @TheSportMatrix with your Clasico eleven with players from both Los Blancos and the Blaugrana using the hashtag #TSMClasicoEleven
Enjoy the Clasico!
ESPANYOL V MALAGA(SATURDAY 7.30PM UK TIME, 8.30PM SPANISH TIME)
A relegation six-pointer takes place in the Catalan Capital as Espanyol who are now under new ownership who have exciting and big plans for the club host a Malaga side who have now realised they are in a relegation battle.
Espanyol come into this one after a 2-1 defeat away to Bilbao but shouldn't be too down-hearted despite the defeat because they did play well against a Bilbao side who are in red hot form and after equalising they were looking like they could snatch a result but Bilbao's quality saw them regain the lead and win the game in the end.
Espanyol have now lost two away games in a row and their home games against relegation rivals in Gijon and Granada this season have only returned one point from a possible six and a game against another relegation rival in Malaga here is one they must see ultimate return and that's three points.
Espanyol have to start winning at home again because they're now without a win in their last three La Liga games and have failed to win any of their last two home games and when you've Malaga at home you must feel confident and must come out on top.
Let's be honest though Espanyol are weaker than last season, they can't defend very well and are really struggling for goals but a miracle will end up saving them and it's a special word called erm, oh yeah, INVESTMENT BABY!
Espanyol have been taken over by a Chinese company called Rastar Group who have huge plans for the club, they plan to significantly spend next summer on improving the side and aim to be challenging for the top four as they plan to get the club into the Champions League.
Everything the new owners have said has excited many Espanyol supporters and is very promising for the club, it's fantastic news it really is and in their first home game under the new owners they have to show success by beating this pretty dreadful Malaga side.
Anger was building in pre-season at Malaga and it's rising and rising game by game, not only were the side whistled off after losing the Andalusian Derby to Betis but the realisation that the club are now in a relegation battle finally hit home.
I said Malaga would struggle this season and are a outside bet to drop into the Segunda, many doubted me, I even had Malaga fans laughing at me by saying we'll be top ten again we'll be fine, they're now extremely worried.
When I say a side is going to struggle I mean it and I'm very rarely wrong, Malaga are the lowest scorers in La Liga with five goals scored from eleven games and they remain beyond poor and beyond awful on their travels.
It's going to be devastating if Malaga go down and to be honest their run-in now could well see them in the bottom three on Christmas Day and New Year's day, Malaga shouldn't sack their coach because he's excellent, it's their moron of an owner that's the problem.
Asset stripping will eventually hit you hard and it's not going to be a total shock if Malaga go down this season, look at Villarreal and Betis in recent seasons before you even come up to me and say Malaga going down would be a shock.
Against Betis it was pretty much the same as against Deportivo really where neither side were really on top and creating too many chances but Malaga didn't get the luck they got against Deportivo and a mistake in possession saw Ruben Castro punish them and win the game for Betis.
I don't think I need to mention Malaga's away record again do I? It's awful and it's best to leave at that really, Espanyol's home record this season isn't great either so neither side have success on their side statistically heading into this crunch clash.
Malaga fans reading this probably want to stop reading right now, Malaga haven't beaten Espanyol since March 2012 in a 2-1 away success, Espanyol have won three of their last five meetings against Malaga and are unbeaten against Malaga in those last five meetings.
In the Catalan Capital Espanyol haven't enjoyed recent meetings with Malaga, this meeting 2-2 last season and 0-0 in the previous season, Malaga are unbeaten on their last four visits to the Catalan Capital to take on Espanyol and their last win there came in March 2012, Espanyol last beat Malaga at home in the Catalan Capital back in November 2010 in a 1-0 home success.
It's a game that is likely to go either way, the loser of this one if there is one is likely to find themselves in big big trouble as we start to head towards December, both sides worry you and both sides remain in trouble and that's why this one is a huge game for both.
VALENCIA V LAS PALMAS(SATURDAY 9PM UK TIME, 10PM SPANISH TIME)
Nuno still needs to go and many Valencia fans agree with me but the 5-1 win away to Celta may just see Nuno receive some time and time at that and he'll also know he's another good chance of gaining more time as his side face Las Palmas at Mestalla.
Los Che won away at Balaidos and that's a superb achievement in itself but to win there 5-1 is simply stunning but they again were far from brilliant and the 5-1 scoreline doesn't tell the story of the game, it tells nowhere near it infact.
Los Che took the lead on the counter-attack which Alcacer finished off superbly but their next two goals came from a free-kick after a needless foul was committed by Celta and the third was basically gifted to them after a poor defensive error from Celta.
Los Che were clinical against Celta but they weren't fantastic by any means and the scoreline flattered them extremely but it's a big away win which sees them sitting just three points outside the top four.
Los Che know that Matchday 6 in the Champions League is a must-win game against French side Lyon if they're to progress to the knockout stages of the Competition, it's at Mestalla and Los Che must win or Nuno will be under the spotlight very much yet again.
The win at Balaidos was Los Che's second success of the season and it must be a springboard used now to see their away form continue because they face Sevilla soon in a huge clash and they'll want to end 2015 in the top four make no mistake about it.
Los Che fans still want Nuno out and I'm in that category as you would right now because I do feel a change is needed, the performance away at Gent in the Champions League was the final straw, it was just awful.
Los Che offered literally nothing in that game and were outplayed by a good Belgian side on the night but it's a Belgian side that they are more than capable of beating and their Champions League chances remain in the balance.
As for Las Palmas the win against La Real was a huge one and one that despite creating very few chances they did probably just about deserve but only because La Real on the night in Gran Canaria were extremely poor.
Las Palmas have shown at the Camp Nou this season that they can get a result away from home against one of the big boys because at the Camp Nou they nearly got a draw and were unlucky to lose and they are the only side to have scored at the Santiago Bernabeu this season in the whole of Europe so Los Che can't think this is a given at all.
Los Che lost just once at home last season and their only defeat came against Barca and this season they've won three times at Mestalla and drawn twice, losing none and they've only conceded once at Mestalla this season in La Liga and that came against Deportivo in Week 2.
Las Palmas have won just one of their last six La Liga games and are without a win away from home this season but have scored at the Camp Nou and at Santiago Bernabeu and have also scored in three of their five away games this season.
These sides have never EVER met before in Spanish football or any other competition, Los Che will want to win this one to go into the game away to Zenit in the Champions League in Midweek but Las Palmas have shown this season that they can upset the big boys, pressure's on Nuno again.
DEPORTIVO V CELTA(SATURDAY 9.05PM UK TIME, 10.05PM SPANISH TIME)
It's the final game of Saturday's action as we head to Galicia and to the city of Coruna as 9th placed Deportivo host 4th placed Celta in the Galician Derby at Riazor which promises to be truly riveting stuff indeed.
Deportivo after a fantastic start to this season which sees them in 9th place and six points clear of the relegation zone have hit a poor run of form with no wins in any of their last five La Liga games despite them scoring in four of those five games.
Deportivo have drawn four of their last five La Liga games with three of them ending in a 1-1 scoreline and the defeat came away to Malaga in a 2-0 away success and Victor Sanchez although he will be happy with the fantastic start to the season he'll be concerned by his side's recent form.
For me Depor seem to have hit a brick wall and okay the 1-1 draw at home against Atleti where they were 1-0 down at half-time is a superb result and shows their start to the season is not a fluke by any means but no wins in their last five La Liga games is a worry.
They drew 1-1 away to Levante last time out and after Lucas Perez continued his brilliant goalscoring form to give Depor the lead you felt that Depor after growing into the game and then taking the lead would go on to win the game.
Depor came out sluggish and poor in the second half and soon a free-kick was given away and Camarasa's free kick went through the wall and past Lux to give Levante the equaliser, Depor had chances to win it but in the end luck went against them and had to settle for a point in the end.
Depor have won just once at home this season but only Gijon have defeated them in Riazor which came in Week 4 in what can only be described as a crazy game to be honest so despite just one home win from their five home games this season Depor's home record isn't the worst.
Depor have scored and conceded in their last four home games and with home games after this against Sevilla, Villarreal, Eibar and Valencia they'll know that their home form is going to be tested and it's going to be interesting to see how they come out of their next four home games after this one to be quite honest because they'll be tested make no mistake about it.
Celta come into this one after losing 5-1 at home to Valencia but they'll know that they weren't at their best in that one and that they weren't as clinical as Valencia were on the day and that was the deciding factor in the game.
Celta are the only side in La Liga who are unbeaten away from home this season and they have scored and conceded in all of their five away games this season and with four away wins this season and the fact that they've won their last two away games against Villarreal and Sociedad they'll hardly head to the Riazor for this Derby in fear.
Celta have won away this season to Sevilla, Villarreal and Sociedad and that's just excellent and they've every reason to head into this Derby high on belief, high on confidence and high on adrenaline.
Celta have some winnable games coming up especially away from home and they remain in the top four so they will be looking to remove the defeat against Valencia from their minds and focus on reaching new heights in La Liga by ending 2015 in the top four.
Depor may have won both Galician Derbies against Celta in the Segunda in the 2011/12 season but in La Liga they've only won two of the eight Galician Derbies against Celta with Celta winning five of them of them and one ending in a draw.
Celta won both Galician Derbies last season and have won three of their last four Galician Derbies at Riazor and they'll head into this one looking to repeat last season's Derby which ended in a 2-0 away success for them.
This is a tough one to call and both sides have every reason to head into this one with the confidence and belief that they can indeed record Derby success and it's going to be a fascinating watch indeed it really is.
GIJON V LEVANTE(SUNDAY 11AM UK TIME, 12PM SPANISH TIME)
A relegation six-pointer takes place in the early Sunday kick-off as Levante head North to Asturias as they take on new boys Gijon at El Molinon in a very important game for both sides and both sides will be up for this one.
Gijon may have lost last time out to Atleti at the Vicente Calderon 1-0 but they can be so proud of their performance because it really must give them the belief and confidence to let themselves know that they can survive relegation this season.
Gijon were well organised and overall quite superb at the Calderon against Atleti and were so unlucky to lose the game in the end, it was cruel on them but it's a performance that for me must now see them get the plaudits they deserve.
Gijon are banned from signing players but have a fantastic coach and are a brave side who have excellent ability in the attacking areas and are a very promising and exciting side with many young talented players in it.
Gijon are three points clear of the relegation zone and if you had offered them at the start of the season they'd have 100% taken it and after beating Malaga in their last home game they'll be looking to punish another one of their relegation rivals in Levante here.
Levante were the worst side defensively in La Liga last season and now in November they are the joint worst side defensively in La Liga this season with Espanyol and under their new coach Rubi whilst they've shown signs defensively they still look in major trouble.
Levante equalised against Deportivo but not once did you feel that they would take the lead in the game because they lack real quality in the final third and defensively they remain extremely poor and the space Lucas Perez was allowed before firing Depor's opened proved that really.
Rubi has made Levante better to watch and more positive in their style of play which does seem them create more chances going forward and sees them playing more positively but they do remain very poor defensively and it's a worry because they look doomed.
Gijon have been poor at home this season though against their relegation rivals with Granada getting a point here in a game which Granada should have won and Granada have won here so there's hope for Levante here there really is.
Levante this season have failed to win away from home and have failed to score in four of their five away games this season conceding thirteen goals in total and their last away success in La Liga came in late April last season in a 1-0 win away to Getafe.
Gijon have won just one of their five home games this season but have played Los Blancos and Los Che in two of those five home games and their last home game which saw success against Malaga will give them the belief and confidence they need because this is a must-win for both sides.
These sides have met six times before with four meetings in La Liga and the other two coming in the Segunda, Levante won 2-0 away to Gijon and drew 0-0 at home against them in the two meetings they had in the Segunda.
In La Liga there's been two draws and a win each for either side with Gijon winning the last meeting between the two sides which came at El Molinon in April 2012 as Gijon recorded a 3-2 home success which means Levante have failed to win on their last two visits for El Molinon.
This should be a great game with Levante now better to watch under Rubi and playing more positively whilst Gijon will attack and be their brave selves in this one and look to record another home success here over another one of their relegation rivals.
VILLARREAL V EIBAR(SUNDAY 3PM UK TIME, 4PM SPANISH TIME)
The Yellow Submarine sit just outside the top four after their 3-0 away defeat to Champions Barca last time out at Camp Nou and they'll look to return to winning ways in this one by beating 6th placed Eibar who continue their excellent form this season.
The Yellow Submarine kept Barca at bay for an hour and were unlucky not to score or take their lead themselves but Barca's class mainly thanks to Suarez and Neymar's superb link up play saw the Yellow Submarine punished and dealt with in the end.
The Yellow Submarine lost at the Camp Nou last season too so it's nothing to really be too disappointed about and having to go there days after a Europa League game which saw a long trip to face Dinamo Minsk was always going to make things more difficult than normal.
The Yellow Submarine have 20 points from their first eleven games which is an excellent start by them but last season in the second half of the season their form nosedived in a negative way and injuries hampered them badly.
You do hope that doesn't happen this season and that the Yellow Submarine can stay in nice waters because if they can do so then there's no reason why they can't finish in the top four this season, after all they were in the top four race last season until the second half of the season.
Only Celta have won at El Madrigal this season with The Yellow Submarine winning all their other home games so far this season with them defeating Espanyol, Bilbao, Atleti and Sevilla and their home record so far despite one defeat is quite impressive and is very good indeed.
Eibar come into this one after another victory over Getafe which saw them sweep the Madrid side away as they recorded a 3-1 home success which saw them win back to back home games and they now have three home successes this season and are well on their way to recording more home successes than they managed to record last season.
Eibar took the lead against Getafe early on but early on they were a little too open defensively so it was no surprise to see Getafe equalise and for me it was too easy for Victor Rodriguez to get his shot away on the edge of the area and fire home.
Eibar responded fantastically though and the lead six minutes later and once they had regained the lead they showed much improvement defensively and in the second half they came out fast and smelling blood.
On the hour mark Eibar added a third thanks to a penalty scored by Berjon and it could have been more than 3-1 in the end because Eibar were excellent on the night and their fantastic start to the season continues.
We saw this last season with Eibar as I've mentioned so many times this season now so it's best to judge them in the second half of the season but the signs are good and Eibar could pull off some achievement come May.
Eibar face tough away games now and it'll be interesting to see if they can record some more home successes before 2015 is out because their points tally on New Year's day will be put up against their tally at that time last season and deeply analysed believe me.
These sides met for the first time ever last season with Eibar holding the Yellow Submarine to a 1-1 draw at Ipurua with the Yellow Submarine victorious in the meeting at El Madrigal by edging out the Basque side in a 1-0 home success.
GRANADA V BILBAO(SUNDAY 5.15PM UK TIME, 6.15PM SPANISH TIME)
Granada come into this one after losing 2-1 away to Rayo last time out and look increasingly doomed but they don't look like that every season anyway? They host Bilbao in this one and face a side who are in red hot form right now.
Granada losing at Vallecas is damaging because although Vallecas is a tough place to get a result we've now played eleven games and Granada have no home wins this season and have won just once this season.
That's from good and far from pleasant reading for Granada and despite Sandoval coming in last season and guiding the side to incredible form and a great run which saw them pull off the great escape you wonder if he will be in the job for much longer.
Despite many new players being signed this summer Granada still struggle for goals and are severely lacking in ideas in the final third and that's extremely worrying and defensively they look weaker than last season at times.
Sandoval's job is on the line and he knows it, his attack on his players for wasting chances away to Espanyol showed his frustration and the pressure he's under because Granada were 1-0 up and in control and had many chances to finish Espanyol off but couldn't convert and Espanyol levelled in stoppage time.
Granada lost just five times at home last season and have already lost three times at home this season and last season they conceded just seventeen goals at home and this season at home they've already eleven goals.
Granada haven't won at home this season and it's run that can't go on much longer because not only is it likely to cost Sandoval his job but it'll push Granada closer to the Segunda, my worries for them now increase on a weekly basis.
As for Bilbao they're in red hot form, they won last time out against Espanyol as they recorded a 2-1 home success over the Catalan side and they have now won their last three La Liga games and their last defeat in La Liga came back in Week 5 in a 2-1 home defeat to Los Blancos.
Bilbao despite their red hot form have been shaky on their travels this season because their only away success this season came last time out in the Andalusian Capital as they recorded a 3-1 away success in the Andalusian Capital against Betis.
Bilbao have lost away to Eibar in the Basque Derby this season, lost away to the Yellow Submarine, drawn away to La Real 0-0 in the Basque Derby and drawn 2-2 away to Depor after being 2-0 up with ten minutes remaining.
Bilbao's last two away games of 2015 see them head to the Calderon and Balaidos and they'll start their away campaign in 2016 back in the Andalusian Capital at the Sanchez Pizjuan so they know that tests on their travels are coming their way pretty soon.
Granada drew half of their home games last season and the 1-1 scoreline became a popular trend last season so don't be surprised when I tell you that they've drawn their last two home games 1-1, I did say don't be surprised!!
The fortunes of both sides in the meetings between these two are mixed with Granada winning three and Bilbao winning three of the eight meetings between the two sides with the other two ending in draws which ended in 0-0 and 2-2 so no 1-1's.
The meeting in Andalusia ended 0-0 last season and Granada won at San Mames in a 1-0 away success last season which sees them unbeaten against the Basque side in the last two meetings but the last four meetings in Andalusia have seen two draws and a win for either side, Bilbao's last win at Nuevo Los Carmenes came in November 2012 in a 2-1 away success.
REAL BETIS V ATLETI(SUNDAY 7.30PM UK TIME, 8.30PM SPANISH TIME)
Real Betis who so far this season have enjoyed flights out of Seville very much rather than a home game at the Benito Villamarin now return to Seville for a home game against Atleti who beat new boys Gijon 1-0 last time out but only just.
Betis come into this one after recording another away success this season which is now their third of the season and only Los Blancos have beaten them on their travels and it highlights what a great start to the season it's been for Pepe Mel's men away from the Benito Villamarin.
At home it's been a poor start with just one home win all season coming against La Real in Week 4 and their last three home games have all ended in defeat against Bilbao, Deportivo and Espanyol and it's disappointing to say the least.
The Benito Villamarin has been a fortress for Betis historically and this season it's been far from that and their home record must improve because your away form alone whether good or bad will not keep you up.
Eibar learned that the hard way last season but Betis's next four home games after this will see them face Celta, Eibar, Los Blancos and the Seville Derby against Sevilla so there's opportunities there and big games.
Away to Malaga last time out it was a superb away success against a side who are a relegation rival and it was also a huge success for them to go into the international break on the back of a win which sees them now six points clear of the relegation zone and just outside the top ten.
Ruben Castro continues to be reliable in goalscoring terms of the side and goalkeeper Adan (which is my name in Spanish) has been absolutely fantastic this season but when you've the same name as me in Spanish, it's not really a surprise is it? :)
But in all seriousness without Adan and Castro Betis would have less points than the 15 they have right now but the whole team is playing well but Adan and Castro are the two stand-out performers so far, Van Der Vaart is fit again and should start in this one and he's a quality player giving Betis added quality in the midfield.
Atleti beat new boys Gijon 1-0 at the Calderon last time out but were far from their best and struggled to beat in the end a well organised side who are one of the three newly promoted sides this season and Jackson Martinez again disappointed.
Jackson Martinez is a quality player and he will come good for this side there's no doubt about that but at the moment he is still taking time to adapt to Simeone's ways and lacks confidence despite the fact he has scored this season.
The Jackson Martinez and Griezmann partnership doesn't seem to be working either which is a worry but don't forget there's still Vietto to come into this side too who is another one trying to adapt to Simeone's ways especially in training.
I've said many times this season already that Atleti's best form will come next year in the second half of the season when the new signings like Martinez, Vietto, Carrasco etc hit their best form and when they are settled into the side more and have adapted to Simeone's ways.
Carrasco has been excellent so far and he will get even better but you can't write off Martinez yet because he's a quality player and to call him a flop at this stage would be utter nonsense and make you look a little silly to be honest, they need time as Griezmann did and look at him now.
Atleti this season have failed to kill sides off and been too content to see out a 1-0 and 2-0 lead and although they beat Los Che in the end they nearly dropped points in that game and a week later in Coruna they were punished by Deportivo who held them to a 1-1 draw.
In Khazakstan in the Champions League against Astana it was a poor performance where Atleti struggled to create many chances in the final third and against Gijon it was pretty much the same but they got out of jail big time against Gijon as Griezmann produced magic and headed in a late winner.
If Los Blancos defeat Barca in the El Clasico and Atleti win this one they'll be a point off the pace in the title race again and that'll give Simeone much joy believe me because after a tough set of fixtures to start the season with and those two dropped points in Coruna to still be one point off the pace in the title race in mid November would be excellent for Atleti.
Atleti have lost just once from their five away games this season with that defeat coming away to the Yellow Submarine but this season they've drawn away to Deportivo and recorded away successes at the Pizjuan against Sevilla and away to Eibar and La Real in the Basque Country.
Atleti won't face an away game against any of last season's top six until the end of January and with their brilliant home form at the Vicente Calderon they'll now believe that if they can put some form together they'll be league leaders come the New Year.
Atleti have enjoyed their recent meetings against Betis with them winning the last four meetings and the last four meetings between the two sides at the Benito Villamarin have all seen away successes for Atleti.
Betis have scored in nine of their eleven games this season and Atleti aren't finishing sides off so this could be a slip-up for Atleti after the international break but it's one they must win, it's a huge game for Atleti and they'll have to be at their best if they're to win this, it'll be tough.
GETAFE V RAYO(MONDAY 7.30PM UK TIME, 8.30PM SPANISH TIME)
Forget the El Clasico, it's all about Monday night at the Coliseum and for the real Madrid Derby as Escriba's Getafe host Paco Jemez's Rayo and as you can expect there'll be a large following from Vallecas for this one and maybe another protest too, Rayo fans don't like those Monday night games Mr.Tebas!
Let's get this out of the way then before I speak about this one, who's got an Android phone? If you have and you ever find yourself at the Coliseum you'll be downloading 'Getafinder' which has been launched by the club.
It is a dating app where Getafe fans at the match can link up, get in a relationship and make babies which in turn will create new Getafe supporters and increase the attendances at the Coliseum, another idea of improving the attendances by this club who are strange at times but we love them for it!
The Zombie Porn was their last idea of improving attendances and advertised with a video well yeah you probably get it..... if you wish to watch that just type in Getafe zombie porn on YouTube and you'll soon find it.
Getafe for me need to look at their poor pricing structure though because if it was anything like Rayo's then the attendances at the Coliseum would improve dramatically and that's a fact Mr.Torres, are you listening???
Mr.Torres is planning to move the club out of Madrid and to another Spanish City due to rows with the local council but it's propaganda and won't happen, La Liga president Javier Tebas will reject it, it's a threat from Mr.Torres to get his own way with the council and the idea is stupid and shows how crazy Mr.Torres is at the moment, look at your pricing structure!
Back to the football and Getafe will be disappointed with their 3-1 away defeat at Eibar last time out after equalising and playing well but defensively they were poor and the second goal was very poor defending indeed.
Getafe are recent good home form despite the defeat to Barca now sit close to the relegation zone again and are just one point above it which makes this Madrid Derby against a Rayo side who are three points clear of them a big one.
Getafe have lost their last three games but have played Sevilla and Eibar away and Barca at home so it's probably best not to read too much into and instead look at their five home games so far this season.
Two defeats and three wins from their five home games this season with defeats against Granada and Barca but wins against Malaga, Levante and Las Palmas and those three home wins all saw clean sheets too and Getafe have won three of their last four home games at the Coliseum.
Getafe will face another Madrid Derby in early December as they head to Santiago Bernabeu to face Los Blancos but there are winnable home and away games coming up for them and Fran Escriba will hope to have Getafe in mid-table around Christmas and New Year time.
Rayo come into this one after being comical at times as they sometimes are but brilliant which they always are and never is a Rayo game boring but despite being comical last time out they overcome Granada at Vallecas to record a 2-1 home success against a relegation rival in what is an important win for them.
Rayo are four points clear of the relegation zone two points off the top ten and Paco Jemez can be very very pleased with his side's season so far and if Rayo can record two or three more successes before 2015 is out then it'll top off a pretty good first half of the season for Rayo.
Rayo were comical against Granada via Ze Castro who is one of their centre-backs because to get sent off in the first 20 minutes of any game is madness but to be sent off for two bookable offences in six minutes is just madness and is stupid.
In a game this season something like that will end up costing Rayo but fortunately it came against a Granada side who struggle to score goals and very rarely score more than one goal in a game if they score one at all.
Rayo will end 2015 with a Madrid Derby at Vallecas against Simeone's Atleti and will hope to be outside the relegation zone heading into that one because like I say if Rayo are outside the relegation zone at the end of year they'll be pleased.
Rayo have won three of their last five games but those three wins have all come at home at Vallecas and on their travels they've lost three of their five away games this season with them losing their last three away games.
Rayo's only away success this season has come in Gran Canaria when I was there in Week 4 as they beat Las Palmas 1-0, they've failed to score in two of their five away games this season but as they proved at Las Palmas they are pretty good against the bottom half sides on their travels.
Last season Rayo won the high majority of their away games against the sides in the bottom half and despite losing to Eibar this season their win in Gran Canaria shows it could be the same again and they must be confident heading to the Coliseum on the back of a home success over a relegation rival in Granada.
Rayo have had the better of this Madrid Derby overall and in the last five Madrid Derbies they've won four of them with them losing one to Getafe at Vallecas in a 2-1 home defeat in May 2014, Rayo did the double over Getafe last season.
The Coliseum has seen four Madrid Derbies and Rayo have won all of them but that counts for nothing against this Getafe side because under Fran Escriba they're more positive for me in their attacking play and more competitive.
This will be a thrilling Madrid Derby, forget your El Clasico this is where your eyes should be this weekend for the Real Madrid Derby and with Rayo involved it's quite likely to be a cracker, infact it's a given and could see either side reign supreme in the Spanish Capital!
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