Can't Miss: One Is The Loneliest Number



Barca to face La Liga's hottest property 

In the heady, shark-infested seas of La Liga, campaigns for upstart minnows looking to play with a swish and a swagger normally end messily. Rayo Vallecano is a recent case in point, with the Madrid team entertaining every one to the hilt last season, but getting relegated in the process. 

Canary Islanders, Las Palmas, are very much in this mode, but unlike Rayo, the side that lies just off the coast of Morocco is striking the balance between defense and attack under the very fashionable Quique Setien. Las Palmas currently lie in eighth on 24-points, to give the Camp Nou visitors on Saturday a huge cushion to go hammer and tongs at Barcelona. Indeed, defender Mauricio Lemos ponders a "60 to 70 percent" chance of a positive result on Saturday. 


And that's not a good thing for a vulnerable, Real Madrid-chasing Barca which is renting a pad in intrigue city this week with rumors of a fall-out between board and players as well as Gerard Pique and Luis Enrique and the testing topic of when it is the done thing to whine about referees. This may not go well for Barcelona's embattled men. 



Spain's two two meet in epic sizzler re-peat

And now for the main meal after Thursday's Copa del Rey appetizer, teaser, curtain-raiser, rehearsal type affair. 

Real Madrid are heading back down to the city of Seville and the Sanchez Pizjuan for a La Liga humdinger that is actually between the top two teams in the table. Nope, Barcelona are in third. We checked. 

Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric should be in tow this time around with the league leaders looking to bring their A-team and A-game to Andalusia. But there is danger afoot with Sevilla winning three out of the last four league meetings between the pair in their own home. 


Another victory would take some of the wind out of Madrid's sails and also put some doubt into the notion that the league title race in done and dusted in January, not even halfway through the season. 




Elephants begin charge to retain AFCON trophy 

While there will always be doubts over the quality of the organization of many AFCON qualifying nations - looking at you here, Cameroon - there are none over the quality of the players with some of the best on the planet taking part in the bi-annual regional tournament, being held in the west-African nation of Gabon. 

From Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of the host nation to Algeria and Leicester City playmaker, Riyad Mahrez, AFCON 2017 is stuffed with talent. And an awful lot of that will be on display on Monday with holders Ivory Coast defending their crown in a clash against Togo. 


Crystal Palace striker, Wilfried Zaha, is a late recruitment to the cause with the former 'Englishman' switching allegiances to the place of his birth to boost the forward line of Les Elephants. Togo are the first challenge, lead by Claude de Roy, in his ninth finals appearance as a coach of his fifth different African nation.