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Awkward comparisons as Barcelona coach Valverde returns to San Mames

Right-back Jordi Alba is likely to return for Barcelona for a game which could cost Ziganda his job in the result of a heavy defeat.
 

Published: 27th October 2017 01:30 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th October 2017 01:30 PM   |  A+A-

Barcelona gaffer Ernesto Valverde | AP

By IANS

BARCELONA: Saturday is likely to be an emotional day for FC Barcelona chief coach Ernesto Valverde as the La Liga leaders face Athletic Club Bilbao, the club he coached for the last four seasons.

However, it could be an uncomfortable day for his replacement, Kuko Ziganda as he faces an unenviable comparison with his predecessor, reports Xinhua news agency.

Barcelona travel to the San Mames Stadium top of the league with eight wins and a draw this season, while Athletic are in mid-table in crisis of both performances and results. Their woes are highlighted by a 1-1 draw against third tier Formentera in the Kings Cup, a 0-1 defeat to Leganes and an almost miraculous 2-2 draw away against Ostersunds in the Europa League.

Right-back Jordi Alba is likely to return for Barcelona for a game which could cost Ziganda his job in the result of a heavy defeat.

Matchday 10 kicks off on Saturday lunchtime as second places Valencia travel to play Alaves, who have just one win all season. Valencia have been scoring almost at will, as emphasised by a 4-0 home win over Sevilla and a 6-3 triumph away to Betis, while under Gianni de Biasi, Alaves have tightened up in defence, but still offer little in attack.

Atletico Madrid have been unconvincing of late, scraping home away to Celta last weekend and only drawing 1-1 away to Elche in the Cup. Diego Simeone knows his side need to improve in attack if they are to maintain any sort of title challenge.

Villarreal are Saturday's rivals in the Vicente Calderon Stadium and have adapted well to a change of coach with three league wins since Javier Calleja replaced Fran Escriba at the helm.

Saturday ends with a late night start as Sevilla entertain Leganes at 22.30 hours. Sevilla asked for the kick off to be delayed as temperatures of around 30 degrees centigrade were predicted for the original kick off time of 16.15, something unlikely to have pleased the Leganes fans who bought train tickets in advance. 

Sunday kicks off with another tough home match for Getafe, who entertain Real Sociedad meaning they have started the season with games against five of last season's top-six in front of their fans.

Real Madrid make their first ever visit to play Girona in the Montilivi Stadium in a game where security will be tight as a result of the ongoing Catalan political crisis. Madrid right-back Dani Carvajal is available again after suffering a chest problem, but forward Gareth Bale's calf injury means he is unlikely to reappear.

Levante, who are without a win in four games, travel to face Eibar, who haven't won in five and have conceded 16 goals in the process.

Malaga coach Michel Gonzalez's job is on the line as his side -- with just one point all season and on the back of a Spanish Cup defeat away against second division Numancia -- entertain Celta Vigo.

Espanyol and Betis play what looks like an evenly balanced game.

The round of matches finishes as Las Palmas coach Paco Ayestaran looks for his first win since taking over as coach a month ago with a game against Deportivo la Coruna, who sacked Pepe Mel earlier this week.



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