Madrid (Spain), Sep 16 (IANS) The sixth round of games in La Liga comes just before the first international break of the season and sees the Madrid derby as well as three coaches in danger of losing their jobs.
Here are some things to look out for this weekend in Spain:
1. Will Diego Simeone gets his way with Antoine Griezmann in Madrid derby
Atletico Madrid’s agreement with FC Barcelona for the loan of Griezmann means that if the striker plays 45 minutes or more in 14 games this campaign, Atletico will have to pay 40 million euros. Obviously, the club wants to avoid doing that is attempting to re-negotiate — something cash-strapped Barca doesn’t want to do.
The solution to the problem so far this season has been for Griezmann to come on as a second-half substitute with around 30 minutes left to play, but coach Simeone looks to be losing his patience with a policy that is limiting his options of using a key player.
With his side looking to end Real Madrid’s excellent start to the campaign and move towards the top-four, Simeone needs to field his strongest 11 on Sunday: will that 11 include Griezmann?
2. Benzema is likely to miss out: who will replace him?
It is starting to look as if Karim Benzema’s muscle injury will see him miss the visit to the Metropolitano Stadium and once again Carlo Ancelotti has to decide how to replace him.
After the Frenchman’s injury last week, Ancelotti put his faith in Eden Hazard, who did well against Glasgow Celtic and not so well against Mallorca. Rodrygo got the chance against RB Leipzig in midweek but looks more comfortable out wide, while Marco Asensio’s injury-time goal could have given him the chance to start on Sunday. Meanwhile, Mariano Diaz will likely sit on the bench and wonder if he would have been better changing clubs during the summer.
3. Early days, but coaches are in danger of the sack
The last weekend before an international break is always a dangerous time for coaches whose sides are not playing well and three men will go into the weekend under serious pressure.
Cadiz coach Sergio Gonzalez visits his former club, Valladolid, after overseeing five consecutive defeats in which Cadiz have not scored a goal but conceded 14, and another defeat would probably mean his ‘adios.’
Elche’s 4-1 thrashing to Athletic Club Bilbao leaves them with just one point and 13 goals against and Francisco Rodriguez will travel to face Barcelona on Saturday very aware that club owner, Christian Bragarnik, is not known for showing patience with his coaches.
Meanwhile, although Sevilla won away to Espanyol to lift some pressure off Julen Lopetegui, Wednesday’s 0-0 draw in Copenhagen was a step backward and defeat to Villarreal would leave the former Spain coach facing a nervous few days regarding his future (or not) at the club.
4. Athletic Club looking for home comforts
Athletic Club Bilbao have scored eight goals in two away matches this season but just one in their first three home matches of the campaign.
Part of the reason for that is bad luck (they have hit the woodwork three times), but they also find it difficult to open up rivals that sit deep in the San Mames Stadium and soak up pressure.
Rayo Vallecano, who are coached by former Athletic legend Andoni Iraola, usually take the play to their rivals and are unlikely to sit and defend, so Saturday’s match between two attack-minded sides promises goals and entertainment.