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LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid look to maintain perfect record

7:05 AM EDT 9/12/19
Thomas Partey
Can the league leaders keep ahead of the chasing pack during matchday four of the Spanish top flight season?

LaLiga Santander returns this weekend with leaders Atletico Madrid looking to stay ahead of the chasing pack in a programme full of opportunities for all 20 teams to build on or recover from their starts to 2019/20.

Atletico spent the international break atop the LaLiga table, but things have yet to settle down at this early stage of the season, and more ups and downs in the standings are guaranteed over the next round of games.

Thanks to Ghana international Thomas Partey’s late winner against Eibar last time out, Diego Simeone’s new look Atletico have begun the new campaign with three victories from three outings.

However, they will be tested on Saturday afternoon at Anoeta, where home side Real Sociedad are out to repay fans following a painful Basque derby defeat at Athletic Bilbao before the international break.

Athletic begin this weekend’s LaLiga programme on Friday night at Real Mallorca, with the Basque side knowing a victory will see them spend the night top of the LaLiga standings, while the Balearic Islanders are always strong at their Son Moix home.

Saturday’s programme starts at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu at 1PM local time, where Real Madrid’s newest galactico Eden Hazard appears set for a much awaited LaLiga debut, while opponents Levante will be confident having picked up a win and draw on their last two visits.

The action then shifts to the south of the Spanish capital, where current bottom team Leganes will be aiming for a badly needed three points when hosting a Villarreal side themselves still looking for a first victory of the new campaign.

Saturday evening sees Valencia visiting Barcelona’s Camp Nou in a repeat of last season’s Copa del Rey final. 

Los Che of course shocked Barca 2-1 to win that trophy, while Albert Celades’ team also got deserved draws in both LaLiga clashes last season. Blaugrana fans and pundits are hopeful that attacking stars Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez will be fit to start given how fitfully their side’s campaign has begun.

Sunday’s action begins at Eibar’s Ipurua, where Espanyol are the visitors in a clash of two more teams aiming to kickstart their campaigns with a first three points.

Elsewhere in the Basque Country comes a clash between new coaches unbeaten since arriving in the summer, with Deportivo Alaves’ Asier Garitano welcoming Sevilla’s Julen Lopetegui to Mendizorroza.

Both Celta Vigo and Granada have identical records after three games - one win, one draw and one loss - so the evidence so far suggests their meeting on Sunday afternoon at Balaidos will be an entertaining affair.

Real Valladolid and Osasuna will also be happy with their starts to the season - having already drawn with Madrid and Barca respectively - and their meeting at the Estadio Municipal Jose Zorrilla offers a chance to keep getting up valuable points on the board.

LaLiga’s weekend finishes at the Estadio Benito Villamarin on Sunday evening, where hosts Real Betis will be looking for a second consecutive home win, in what will be visitors’ Getafe last outing before they return to Europa League action next week.