Sun, 03 Jul 2022

MADRID, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- The 22nd round of matches in La Liga comes after an intense month of January which has seen teams juggle La Liga with the Copa del Rey and in some cases a trip to Saudi Arabia for the Spanish Supercup. Here are some things to look out for this weekend in Spain before La Liga takes a well-earned weekend break.

1. Real Madrid should have it easier against Elche in La Liga

Real Madrid needed extra time before coming from behind to beat Elche 2-1 in controversial fashion in the Copa del Rey on Thursday night, but will be confident that they will have an easier time of things in La Liga and back in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

While Elche are missing players and coach Francisco Rodriguez due to COVID-19, Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti had the luxury of resting Karim Benzema, Eder Militao, Vinicius Jr and Luka Modric on Thursday and they will all freshen up his side.

Meanwhile Eden Hazard's winning goal in Elche showed he is still a valid player and it will be interesting to see what role the Belgian plays at the weekend.

2. Barca have to recover after San Mames nightmare

FC Barcelona saw their second option of silverware disappear as they lost 3-2 to Athletic Club Bilbao on Thursday night after an epic 120 minutes of football.

Not only were Barca well-beaten, but they also lost Ansu Fati and Pedri (both of whom only returned after injury last weekend) to muscle problems, while the club has said that Ousmane Dembele has to leave before the end of the month.

Xavi Hernandez has to lift his side after these setbacks, while tired legs will also be an issue on Sunday night.

Deportivo Alaves were dreadful as they lost 4-0 to Betis Tuesday night and new coach Jose Luis Mendilibar's frustration was obvious. Mendilibar likes his teams to pressure their rivals high up the field and keep a high line on defense and Barca can expect another tense night in front of their fans.

3. Atletico Madrid need to find their old spirit

It's been a bad week for Atletico Madrid, who lost in the semifinal of the Spanish Supercup, surrendering a lead to Athletic Club Bilbao and followed that disappointment up with another early exit from the Copa del Rey as they went down tamely 2-0 away to Real Sociedad.

The worrying thing for Atletico is not that they lost, but the way they lost, with two displays that lacked the competitive edge that has been the hallmark of the club during Diego Simeone's 10 years in charge.

Despite a talented squad, Atletico seem to have lost their defensive edge and look weaker in all areas of the park and need lifting.

Valencia will be a good test of Atletico's spirit with Pepe Bordalas' side having a good team spirit and like most of Bordalas' sides - showing they will do anything to win.

4. High drama in Valencia as bottom two fight in out

There promises to be drama in the Ciudad de Valencia stadium as bottom of the table Levante take on second bottom Cadiz in what is starting to look like the last chance saloon for both teams.

Cadiz had their hearts broken on Tuesday by Raul de Tomas' 96th minute equalizer in a tense 2-2 draw at home to Espanyol where new coach Sergio Gonzalez was moments away from claiming a debut league win.

Meanwhile Levante have been able to rest and are still boosted by their 2-0 win at home to Mallorca a fortnight ago, which broke their duck for the season.

If the home side can carry that morale boost into this weekend, they could double their win tally and give themselves a chance of survival.

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