Thu, 09 Feb 2023

MADRID, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- La Liga holds its 18th round of matches between the last-16 of the Copa del Rey and next week's quarterfinals. Here are some things to look out for in Spain this weekend.

1. Chance for Ansu Fati to show fitness at Barcelona

Although Ansu Fati has played in nearly every FC Barcelona match this season, most of his appearances have been from the substitutes bench. However, the suspension of Robert Lewandowski and Ferran Torres for Barca's game at home to Getafe should give him the chance of a start.

Fati should have recovered from the physical issues of his four knee operations and a bad hamstring tear, but at times it looks as if he still needs to regain his full confidence. A goal in the Supercup semifinal a week ago and another in the Copa del Rey win in Ceuta should have helped him and that's not good news for struggling Getafe.

2. Confidence boost for Real Madrid ahead of Bilbao visit

Real Madrid looked flat and tired in their Supercup defeat to Barcelona last Sunday and for 55 minutes, of their Copa del Rey game away to Villarreal on Thursday, there was little improvement as Villarreal outplayed them and led 2-0.

However, after Vinicius Jr gave Real Madrid a 57th minute lifeline, their attitude changed and they ended up with a morale boosting 3-2 win to reach the quarterfinals.

Sunday sees them visit Athletic Club Bilbao's difficult San Mames Stadium and Carlo Ancelotti will need his players to again be at their best to avoid dropping further points against a side that had an easy Cup win against Espanyol on Wednesday.

3. Will Memphis make a difference for Atletico?

Atletico Madrid should have Dutch international Memphis Depay available for their home game against Valladolid on Saturday night following his move from FC Barcelona.

Although Memphis isn't exactly an out and out striker, the hope is that he can give Atletico more options in attack following Joao Felix's loan to Chelsea. Although Alvaro Morata always works hard, he is not a reliable goalscorer (as he showed in Almeria last weekend), while Angel Correa is more effective when he comes on as a substitute, so Memphis will add to Atletico's firepower.

Valladolid travel to Madrid after four consecutive defeats and will set up to not concede, giving Memphis an early chance to show what he can do.

4. High drama in Seville

There will be high drama in the Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium when Sevilla entertain Cadiz in a relegation battle.

Few people would have expected Sevilla to be second from bottom of the league at this stage of the season, but with only three wins and little sign of improvement under Jorge Sampaoli, they are very much in a dogfight to avoid the drop.

Cadiz were almost certainly expecting a campaign fighting to stay up, but while Sevilla's players are more used to fighting to qualify for Europe, Cadiz's players have more experience of being in the bottom three.

The visitors have tightened up in defense after a poor start to the season and will look to keep things tight. If they can keep a clean sheet for 45 minutes, nerves among the Sevilla players and fans could be a key factor in this game.

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