Whilst there’s still a lot of La Liga football to played out in the first half of the 2015-16 season, we’re going to take a little glance ahead to the second half. Following on from the annual winter break after Christmas the season will get back under way in earnest on the weekend of 10th January 2016 with much to play for as the matches begin to heat up heading into spring and the grand finale. Who’ll be crowned champions? Who’ll be facing the drop? Who’ll be trying to force their way into the Champions League?
Who knows? But these 5 La Liga fixtures may well help provide some of the answers and will surely whet the appetite of all Spanish football fans in the coming months.
La Liga Finest: Las Palmas vs Malaga – weekend of 10th January 2016
We’ll start with a little look at the ‘wrong’ end of the league with this intriguing clash between the two tourist hotspots of Las Palmas (Gran Canaria) and Malaga in the Canaries capital. It’s a perennial struggle for the islanders as they try to cling onto the top flight status they gained at the end of the 14-15 season and their clash with Malaga might be crucial to their overall fate. As for Malaga, their position is precarious just above the drop zone, a far cry from the heady nights of Champions League football (and their memorable battle with Borussia Dortmund in particular) of just a few seasons ago.
Barcelona v Atletico Madrid – weekend of 31st January 2016
Another of the traditional La Liga great clashes at the top of the league this is a major hurdle for Barca to try to overcome in their quest to retain the title. For Atletico’s part this match represents a chance to get one over their Catalan counterparts and further cement their place in the prized top four spots. And, with just a few points separating the top sides at present, depending on how results pan out in the coming weeks, this could yet prove to be decisive in Atleti’s own aspirations of returning to the top of Spanish football.
Valencia v Atletico Madrid -weekend of 6th March 2016
Always an intriguing and passionate affair, this is a match sure to have an impact on who claims a Champions League spot at the end of the season. Atletico have been the model of consistency at the top end of the league for a number of years now (not least their 2014 title win) while Valencia continue to vie for the top 4. A clash of some hot-shot young stikers in Alcacer (Valencia) and Griezman (Atletico) this should be a hotly contested, high-quality affair in the great cauldron of the Mestalla.
Barcelona v Real Madrid – weekend of 3rd April 2016
The second El Classico of the season and the big match of any season in La Liga, with the final destination of the league always potentially up for grabs. It’s the usual tale: Messi v Ronaldo, with a glittering array of supporting players – Bale, Benzema and James, Suarez, Neymar and Iniesta. The biggest two in the league are already dominating the top spots in the title race and by the time this match comes around we may be looking at the ultimate showdown for championship glory. Never a match to miss.
Real Madrid v Valencia – weekend of 8th May 2016
This has the makings of a classic La Liga encounter. Valencia will hope to still be in the running for top four as we enter the penultimate round of matches while Real will most definitely be aspiring for title success. A potential banana skin whichever way we look at it, it’s a fixture that has seen some classic and important moments in the destination of past championships and this year’s encounter will have the added spice of Real boss Rafa Benitez facing off against his former employers, having guided Valencia to league glory back in 2002 and 2004.
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