Big Weekend Preview: Rayo’s repetition, predicting Piqué and preparing for Moyes?

Tim Stannard pops the questions for the latest round in La Liga ...

Nooo! La Liga is wrapping up for an international break for what feels like the fifth time this season. Sometimes a break from the madness is a pleasant diversion, and a time to get on with that cleaning while Austria take on Slovakia. But not this time.

Too many questions. Are Barça going to bounce back despite having one functioning centre-back? Will Valencia go into a funk after a fortnight? And are there any nasty surprises waiting around the corner for Real Madrid, now that things seem to be going so well at the Santiago Bernabéu? So many questions... and here are some more for the weekend to come.

ELSEWHERE IN España

Where will Gerard Piqué be against Almería?

Bench, stands or pitch? It’s like a modern day, Camp Nou-themed version of rock, paper, scissors. Where will Gerard be this week? Is there a pattern? Can it be predicted? Who believes Luis Enrique when he says Piqué being dropped isn’t personal? At the moment, all mathematical indications show that the Barça centre-back will be back in action against Almería, proudly winning tackles and then giving the ball away for the opposition to get a clean run on goal.
Almería vs Barcelona - Saturday 16.00 CET

Will Bale mess up Real Madrid’s mojo?

To be fair, even in her current state, Thora Hird could play on the right wing for Real Madrid and it wouldn’t matter a hill of beans to the result against Rayo. But it is interesting to note that is no gasp of joy in the Spanish capital in regards to the announcement from Carlo Ancelotti that Welshman Bale is set to return after another spell on the sidelines.
Real Madrid vs Rayo Vallecano - Saturday 18.00 CET

Will Rayo be more pragmatic against Madrid?

Once again it’s teeny Rayo against the Leviathan. The club that charged just under €5 to see last Monday’s home defeat to Eibar, versus the institution that charges €9,000 for the worst ticket in the house. The team with the rowdiest fans in La Liga to the club that has off-duty librarians patrolling the aisles to turf out anyone talking above a whisper or chewing on their ham sandwiches too loudly.

With Rayo’s love of attack, attack, attack and to hell with the consequences, the match against Real Madrid is more to do with predicting how many the visitors will concede in the Bernabéu. Nineteen goals have been let in by Rayo this season, and LLL is plumping for four more on Saturday despite People’s Republik of Vallecas boss Paco Jémez boasting that “we are brave, courageous, but not suicidal”.
Real Madrid vs Rayo Vallecano - Saturday 18.00 CET

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Can Valencia be more Athletic than Athletic?

Big crosses, big aerial power and big headers, with some elbows and commitment thrown in for good measure. These are the key attributes of Athletic over the years, that have been borrowed with some success by Valencia. While Saturday’s sobbing Basque opponents have had another soul-sapping week in the Champions League, the Mestalla men have been working on a speciality of the club in recent weeks – big goals from the back, six of them in fact, two more than Atlético, a team that normally specialises in such things.
Valencia vs Athletic - Sunday 21.00 CET

Is this the last match of the pre-Moyes world for Real Sociedad?

It the topsy-turvy world of football, David Moyes is now hot property, with everyone noticing that he technically did better than Louis van Gaal at Manchester United with a lot less in the tank. The good folk of San Sebastian have certainly noticed this to make the Scotsman a strong favourite to fill the current vacany at Real Sociedad.

While the Scotsman might have some knockers in England, anyone who has sat on the bench at Old Trafford is seen as a big hitter. Let’s see if the youth team coach can pick up three points and make the potential work for Moyes from Monday a little easier. As the clash is against Atleti, that probably isn’t going to happen.
Real Sociedad vs Atlético Madrid - Sunday 21.00 CET