MADRID, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- Matchday 10 of the Spanish Liga Santander sees the top three sides all play away from home; here are some things to look out for over the coming weekend.
1. A happy return 'home' for Valverde?
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde takes his unbeaten side to Athletic Club Bilbao's San Mames Stadium on Saturday night: the ground where he spent the past four years and home to the 'club of my life.' He goes back just four months after leaving to find Athletic in crisis and his replacement Kuko Ziganda questioned after a string of poor performances and results, culminating in a 1-1 draw in the Kings Cup away to lowly Formentera on Wednesday.
Ziganda had been touted as Valverde's natural successor after six years with the Athletic B-team, but after four months with the first team, he still doesn't seem to know his best tactics or starting 11 and Valverde's return will probably provoke nostalgia among the San Mames faithful.
2. Valencia to keep the pressure on?
Second place Valencia kick the weekend off with their visit to play struggling Alaves, a side who have lost eight of their opening nine games this season. New Alaves coach Gianni De Biasi has worked to tighten his team's defense, but at the expense of creating much at the opposite end of the pitch and Alaves have scored just two goals in his three matches in charge.
In contrast Valencia can't stop scoring and have netted 13 goals in their last three games with players such as Goncalvo Guedes, Rodrigo and Simone Zaza looking unstoppable.
Valencia look comfortable keeping possession and also playing on the break, which means they can expect to see a lot of the ball and with their talent and confidence the chances will come.
3. Leganes to make Berizzo sweat
Leganes fans can't have been impressed when the Spanish Football League on Tuesday changed the kick off time of Saturday's game away to Sevilla from 16:15 to 22:30 hours alleging it was going to be excessively hot in the Sanchez Pizjuan. The decision not only means Leganes fans who had previously bought train tickets would probably lose their money, it also meant having to plan for an overnight stay.
However, those 'Lega' fans who do still make the trip can take comfort that Sevilla are still reeling in the wake of their 4-0 defeat in Valencia and that coach Eduardo Berizzo is also under the spotlight. With just 3 goals conceded in 9 games all season Leganes look well prepared to keep things tight in the Pizjuan and make Berizzo sweat.... Even if it is a late kick off.
4. Another happy away day for Real Madrid
Real Madrid travel to face recently promoted Girona on the back of 13 consecutive away wins in the Liga Santander. Sunday's game is likely to have an extra level of tension because of the ongoing Catalan crisis, but that shouldn't affect matters on the pitch.
Girona got a huge morale boost when they defeated Deportivo la Coruna 2-1 away from home on Monday and coach Pablo Machin has put together a well-organized and hard-working side that has a real chance of avoiding relegation.
Whether they can avoid defeat against Madrid is a different matter, the defeat against Barcelona showed their legs will take them so far and then they will probably suffer as the gas runs out.
Madrid may have to be patient, but in the end their firepower should see them to away win number 14.