La Tomatina Festival is held annually on the last Wednesday of August outside of Valencia in the town of Buñol.

La Liga provides its supporters and spectators with its first midweek round of the season, and through three rounds of this long campaign, the table has already sorted itself out in terms of the apparent three tiers in La Primera División.  The top six teams are the same teams that usually occupy the European places in the past five years, the bottom five teams look as though they will fight against relegation all season, and the middle nine teams will jumble around in mid-table throughout the season, save for maybe one or two teams that will join the top or bottom tier at season’s end.

The marquee match of the round will take place at Mestalla in the late Wednesday kickoff when Valencia hosts Atlético Madrid in a match where either of these teams may have the fortitude to challenge the Barcelona – Real Madrid duopoly at the top end of the ladder.

Valencia is the only team in La Liga to win its first three matches of the season, and despite the losses of David Villa, David Silva, and Carlos Marchena, their new signings have produced early to ignite optimism and legitimate excitement for Los Che.  Roberto Soldado and Aritz Aduriz have already added goals to their docket, and Mehmet Topal and Tino Costa have controlled the midfield to the point where Juan Mata, Pablo Hernández and co. have the license to go forward without any negative repercussions if a counter-attack ensues.

For Atlético Madrid, they kept the European club giants at bay during the summer transfer window by keeping Sergio Agüero and Diego Forlán while fortifying their wobbly defense with two experienced and talented defenders, Diego Godín from Villarreal and Filipe Luís Kasmirski from Deportivo La Coruña.  Whereas Los Colchoneros faltered in La Liga while shining in cup competitions last season, the reverse may be happening this season.  They have won two of their first three matches in La Liga, only losing a passionate, open game to FC Barcelona, whereas in their first UEFA Europa League match against Aris Thessaloniki, they looked disinterested in falling 0-1 to their Greek counterparts.

With Barcelona and Real Madrid a shade more vulnerable than they were last season, Valencia and Atlético Madrid want to pounce on any opportunity to threaten the two brightest lights in Spanish football, and if there is any such idea as a critical match in Round 4 of 38, Valencia – Atlético Madrid would be it.

The times listed are Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) and include the pregame pleasantries, although sometimes the matches on the DirecTV La Liga specific channels may not go to match coverage until right before kickoff.

Sept. 21

Osasuna vs. Real Sociedad – 1:45 PM on DirecTV channel 477

Athletic Bilbao vs. Mallorca – 1:55 PM on ESPN Deportes/ESPN3

Real Madrid vs. Espanyol – 3:55 PM on ESPN Deportes/ESPN3

Sept. 22

Real Zaragoza vs. Hércules – 1:45 PM on DirecTV channel 477

FC Barcelona vs. Sporting de Gijón – 1:55 PM on Gol TV HD

Valencia vs. Atlético Madrid – 3:55 PM on ESPN Deportes/ESPN3

Sept. 23

Getafe vs. Málaga – 1:45 PM on DirecTV channel 477

Villarreal vs. Deportivo La Coruña – 1:55 PM on Gol TV HD

Sevilla vs. Racing de Santander – 3:55 PM on Gol TV HD

Unfortunately, the Almería – Levante match at the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterráneo will not be seen on US TV.