La Liga resumes with the Seville derby kicking off 110 games in 35 days, on Thursday.
The Spanish title race picks up from where it left off this weekend three months ago with two points separating the leading Barcelona () from Real Madrid’s second place.
Barcelona thus cannot slip up against Mallorca in their upcoming match. Mallorca have already beaten Real Madrid this season at their home stadium, then it will be on the side of Zinedine Zidane who is poised to take advantage.
On the other hand, Real will play Eibar on Sunday but due to the delay associated with coronavirus the game will be a home-from-home fixture. The Santiago Bernabeu will not be available for the remaining six home games for the club due to renovations.
Thus, Madrid’s “Real Madrid Castilla” B-team will play at Stadium Alfredo di Stefano. Zidane is familiar with the 6,000-seater stadium at the club’s Valdebebas training ground from his days coaching Castilla.
The race for the other two Champions League is focused on fifth-placed Getafe and six-placed Atletico Madrid’s attempts to displace fourth-placed Real Sociedad and third-placed Seville.
Julen Lopetegui’s Seville side is interested in matchday 28’s other major contest.
They host Real Betis in the Seville derby and the absence of supporters for the remainder of the season will be more felt at no fixture in Spain. On Thursday night the famous derby match kicks-off.
Granada face Getafe in the remaining matches and Valencia host Levante on Friday. Espanyol goes to Alaves, Villarreal visits Celta Vigo, and saturday Leganes is home to Valladolid.
And on Sunday, Athletic Bilbao meets Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad faces Osasuna.
So, as the restart nears, Barcelona is precariously at top of the pile, because Real Madrid is in hot pursuit.
What’s more, both clubs have big players coming back.
Luis Suarez will be available for Barcelona’s trip to Mallorca on Saturday. Last January, he needed knee surgery and appeared to have played his last campaign game.
Last week the Uruguayan forward was again declared fit but cautious Barcelona coach Quique Setien said: “Suarez is in good shape but we should avoid risks.”
That could mean that, with Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann, Martin Braithwaite starts upfront.
At the end of last week, Messi gave all Barcelona fans a scare when he missed a training session with a small muscle contraction in his right leg quadriceps.
“Messi is not the only one who has missed a training session with some discomfort,” Setien said on Sunday.
“It was a minor cramp and we have controlled it, he is perfectly fine and will have no problem [to face Mallorca].”
Meanwhile, Eibar (and possibly Barcelona after them) faces a Real side that will welcome Eden Hazard back.
Like Suarez, while cracking his shin bone in February, the Belgian international thought he had played his last game this season.
But he’s back, and so is Marco Asensio, who hasn’t played a game this season since fracturing a cruciate knee ligament in a summer-friendly against Arsenal.
The real doubt regarding their game against Eibar is how well the players of Real Madrid will cope with the change of venue.
The Eibar side is used to playing in small venues- their own stadium has a capacity of 7,000.
Plus, Eibar is as desperate as Real Madrid for the money. Jose Luis Mendilibar’s side is about the relegation zone, just two points.
Mendilibar was among those voicing concerns about the prospect of 11 rounds of matches played in 35 days.
“We are not prepared to play so many games in so little time,” he said. “Even in World Cups, this does not happen.”