Four things to look out for in Spain's matchday 14

Saturday, 2018-12-01 07:12:55
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Atletico are first to play at Girona but it won’t be an easy game. (Photo: Reuters)
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There is a new leader in La Liga for the 14th round of matches as Sevilla lead the title race. Whether they can cling on to top-spot for another week will be one of the big questions to be answered this weekend in Spain.

1. Can Sevilla stay on top?

Their 1-0 win over Real Valladolid last weekend, coupled with the 1-1 draw between Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona took Sevilla to the top of the table. It is the first time Sevilla have led the title race this late in the season since the 2006-2007 season.

Sunday sees Sevilla travel to play fourth placed Alaves in the Mendizorroza Stadium, with Alaves knowing a win would see them leapfrog Pablo Manchin's side.

A year ago when Abelardo Fernandez took over at Alaves they were rock bottom of the table with just 6 points from 12 games. His side looks happier as underdogs and will be content to see Sevilla carry the weight of the game in what promises to be a close affair.

2. Valencia to test Real Madrid?

Last weekend saw Real Madrid lose their first game since Santiago Solari took over as they capitulated 3-0 away to Eibar. They recovered to win 2-0 away to a disappointing Roma in midweek, but Valencia promise to be a tough test of Solari's managerial credentials.

Although they were unlucky to go out of the Champions League on Tuesday after a narrow 1-0 defeat away to Juventus, Valencia have won their last two La Liga matches to climb into mid-table. Strikers, Kevin Gameiro and Santi Mina finally got on the score sheet in their 3-0 win at home to Rayo Vallecano. Last season Valencia drew 2-2 in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and they promise to be just as tough to beat this time around.

3. Can Girona do it at home?

Last weekend's 3-1 win away to Espanyol lifted Girona into seventh place in the table and preserved their unbeaten record away from home. However, their form in the Montilivi Stadium is less impressive after defeats to Eibar, Real Betis and Real Madrid, while they could only draw at home to Leganes.

Atletico Madrid promise to provide another tough test for Eusebio Sacristan's side on Sunday and it will be interesting to see how Girona striker Cristhian Stuani, who is currently La Liga's top scorer, deals with Atletico's traditionally mean defence.

4. Villarreal's pace to threaten Barcelona?

Its three weeks since Betis beat Barcelona 4-3 in the Camp Nou Stadium with a mixture of courage and pace on the break. Betis beat Barcelona by playing a high attacking line and then stretching their defence with pace every time they won possession.

Sunday's visitors, Villarreal are having a difficult start to the season, but last weekend saw them beat Real Betis, while Thursday saw Villarreal claim a draw away to Glasgow Rangers in the Europa League.

In forwards Samuel Chukwueze and Karl Ekambi, Villarreal also have pace upfront and will look to pose similar problems for Barcelona. The question is: have Barcelona learned from what happened against Betis?

Xinhua