Tapas won’t be the only Spanish dish with a host of mouth-watering options this weekend, as La Liga resumes with a ten-match offering spread across Thursday to Sunday.
The Spanish top-flight has been out of action since 10th March, but after an enforced three-month siesta, the league will return when Sevilla host Real Betis at 21:00 on Thursday 11th March.
There’s plenty to enjoy when we get back underway, and we’ve highlighted five things we think are worth looking out for, including a quirky comparison between Macclesfield and Real Madrid.
Barcelona v Real Madrid title race
That’s right, the first thing to look out for is the La Liga title race. Who saw that one coming? It’s in here with good reason, though, and you may have forgotten just how tight things are at the top.
Barcelona lead Real Madrid by just two points ahead of the league’s restart. They’ve played an equal number of matches, including each other twice, which means it’s all down to the final 11 weeks of the season.
Our traders have Lionel Messi and co. odds-on to retain their crown at 4/7, with Los Blancos back at 5/4. It should be a fascinating end to the season, and one that we can’t wait to watch on La Liga TV.
Suarez, Hazard and Bale are back
Let’s unpack that title race a little further. What makes it more intriguing is that several injured players who wouldn’t have otherwise been fit for the run-in have had time to recover thanks to the league’s suspension.
A trio of stars including Luis Suarez, Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale are all expected to make a return thanks to the extended season, although whether Bale will get a look in at the Bernabeu remains to be seen.
Messi, too, should be able to feature right away after overcoming a quadriceps problem. The Argentine ace is La Liga’s top scorer this season and can be found at 8/15 to reopen his account against Mallorca on Saturday.
The race for Europe
Maths isn’t our strong point, but even we know five doesn’t go into two. However, that’s the equation faced by Sevilla, Real Sociedad, Getafe, Atletico Madrid and Valencia as they all bid to reach the Champions League.
The foremost pair in that five-pronged selection of teams currently lead the way, although with just five points separating the quintet, it really is anyone’s guess who makes it into the top-four come the end of the season.
Atletico will be quietly confident after their morale-boosting win at Anfield in March, and with Kieran Trippier and Joao Felix both back fit, Diego Simeone will be more than optimistic of his team’s chances.
It’s tight at the bottom of La Liga, too, with nine points blanketing the bottom six clubs.
Espanyol, Mallorca and Leganes are the sides that have it all to do inside the relegation zone, with Celta Vigo, Eibar and Vallodolid all looking nervously over their shoulders.
It may sound obvious to say that 18th-placed Mallorca have the best chance of leapfrogging one of those sides, but it should be noted that Espanyol and Leganes have been inside the drop-zone since gameweek seven.
We’re all getting used to things being the same but a little bit different. And it’s similar in La Liga, where alongside matches being played behind closed doors, two clubs will be playing at slightly unusual venues.
Real Madrid will play their home matches at the home of their second team, Real Madrid Castilla, while the Santiago Bernabeu is undergoing renovation, with Levante hosting fixtures at Camilo Cano.
The Alfredo Di Stefano, which is where Real Madrid will be playing, has a capacity of 6,000. That means for two months only, Macclesfield Town will have a greater capacity than the 13-time Champions League winners.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication