The 2019-20 Spanish La Liga season restarts on Thursday with the Seville derby as Sevilla play host to Real Betis at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium with no fans in attendance.
Leaders Barcelona are in action on Saturday night, away to struggling RCD Mallorca. The hosts are in the relegation zone, one point from safety ahead of the final 11 games.
Real Madrid aren’t back in action until Sunday when we host Eibar. The minnows themselves could be a in relegation scrap between now and the end of the campaign as they are only two points above the drop zone having scored just 27 goals in their 27 games.
For those wanting a comprehensive look at the opening round of fixtures taking place this week and weekend, OLBG’s La Liga betting tips here is a good place to start.
Zinedine Zidane and his coaching staff will hopefully have his squad in shape for games taking place every 3-4 days. This should really play in our favour compared to the smaller teams simply because of the strength in depth that we have in comparison.
There will be a lot of squad rotation though one of our toughest remaining fixtures comes against Valencia in a week’s time when both sides will likely be short of match fitness as it will only be our second game following the three-month lay-off.
The title race is between us and Barcelona with the Catalan club having a two-point advantage over us. They will have benefited more than any La Liga club for the league’s suspension as it has allowed Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele to recover from the injuries in time for the restart of La Liga, that had been due to keep them out until the end of the campaign. For now, we must focus on winning each of our remaining games.
Here’s a look at Sunday’s opponents, Eibar:
With football coming back, it will be a treat to watch live football, whether it’s via a La Liga live stream or catching the game on TV, and even if there are no fans in attendance, we will finally see the title decided on the pitch and get the chance to win it.
Jose Luis Mendilibar’s side had lost four of their last five before the disruption, which included a 5-0 drubbing away to Barcelona and two straight losses at home.
34-year-old Fabian Orellana is the club’s top scorer this season with seven goals. The Chilean’s six assists also leads the club. 36-year-old Brazilian striker Charles has five goals, and Kike Garcia is the only other player with more than two – he has three.
Eibar’s ageing squad may not favour them in the long run but that doesn’t give us any advantage on Sunday.
We hammered them at their Ipurua stadium back in early November, with Karim Benzema scoring twice and Sergio Ramos netting a penalty giving us a 3-0 lead inside half hour, with Federico Valverde scoring the only other goal of the game.
In only one game this season have they lost when scoring more than once. They don’t tend to score many goals so a comfortable home win should be on the cards in this one, though the quick turnaround from the long break could throw a spanner in the works.
Karim Benzema vs Eibar defence
The French striker has been of huge importance to us this season, scoring 14 La Liga goals and adding six more assists in his 25 starts. Sergio Ramos is the only other player in the squad with more than three league goals this season – the centre-back has five.
Eibar have changed their centre-backs a few times this season as the head coach has never been settled on a pair. Hopefully, Karim Benzema can add more goals to his tally this weekend.
Eden Hazard vs Alvaro Tejero
The Belgian superstar should be in line to make only his 10th La Liga start for Real Madrid after his big money move last summer. Eden Hazard has spent much of the season on the sidelines. Hopefully the lengthy lay-off will have been a blessing in disguise for the forward’s fitness.
Hazard earned his reputation at Lille and Chelsea down the left wing so will go up against Alvaro Tejero if he starts on Sunday. Eibar are weak on the counter-attack and haven’t faired too well in one-on-one matchups this campaign so Hazard has all the skills to be the match winner in this one.
Federico Valverde vs Gonzalo Escalante
We should dominate possession and territory in this game just as we did in the first meeting when we had 59% of the ball. Youngster Federico Valverde scored on that day as the young Uruguayan got the better of Gonzalo Escalante in the middle of the park.
Should Valverde start this one too then his through balls to the likes of Hazard and Benzema could be a huge benefit to us, though Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are more than capable of doing the same. I wouldn’t expect Zidane to start both of the aforementioned players though with Valencia coming up so soon after.
Prediction: Real Madrid 4-0 Eibar
A big win to make sure we don’t lose ground on leaders Barcelona and allowing us to rotate players in the second half to keep fitness levels up with a tougher game midweek.