Spanish La Liga Preview

Barcelona were shocked 3-1 away at Real Sociedad while title rivals Atletico Madrid went down 3-0 at Osasuna, giving Real Madrid a three-point lead at the top of the table after their 3-0 victory over Elche.

This weekend serves up a mouthwatering encounter between the two Madrid teams vying for the title.

Athletic Bilbao 9/20 draw 33/10 Granada 66/10
Athletic Bilbao host Granada in the traditional Friday night La Liga opener. Bilbao strengthened their hold on fourth place in the league by winning 2-0 at Real Betis on Sunday. It was a much needed victory after coming off their first home loss of the season and it lifted them four points clear of Real Sociedad which keeps them in command of Spain's last Champions League berth for next season. Granada have lost their last four away matches and Bilbao should bounce back to winning ways at home. 

Malaga 8/10 draw 24/10 Valladolid 36/10
Relegation threatened Malaga and Valladolid meet in a crucial encounter on Saturday. Malaga sit three points above Valladolid and the relegation zone and will see this as the perfect chance to pull away as a win will extend the gap to six points. Valladolid have been dreadful away from home racking up just one win in 13 matches. Malaga have won five of their 12 home fixtures and are coming off an away draw with Almeria. The first round encounter ended in a 2-2 draw and with home advantage Malaga are tipped to get the vital points.

Levante 12/10 draw 9/4 Osasuna 24/10
Osasuna were sublime in their 3-0 mauling of Atletico Madrid on the weekend. This weekend sees them travel to Levante who are unbeaten in their last seven league matches. Levante won the reverse fixture 1-0. However, they have been inconsistent at home and Osasuna’s confidence will be sky high. Osasuna have struggled on the road and a draw looks the most likely result.

Getafe 15/10 draw 9/4 Espanyol 18/10
Getafe are now winless in 10 matches after drawing at Celta Vigo last time out. Getafe took the lead and looked good to claim the points until on-loan Benfica defender Lisandro was dismissed in the second half and Celta got back on level terms. Espanyol are coming off a 2-1 home loss to Villarreal. Getafe won the reverse fixture 2-0 and are tipped to turn their form around with a much needed victory.

Elche 14/10 draw 22/10 Celta Vigo 2/1
Celta Vigo continue to rack up the points and are now unbeaten in their last five matches and have won four of their last seven games. They were unlucky not to get the winner against 10-man Getafe last weekend and this weekend travel to Elche who were beaten 3-0 by real Madrid. Elche have done well at home of late but Celta have managed to win five away games out of 12, losing seven times. The draw is on the cards. 

Villarreal 4/10 draw 7/2 Betis 69/10
Villarreal returned to winning ways after two losses by winning 2-1 away to Espanyol. They are four points off a Champions League spot and have the perfect opportunity to claim maximum points this weekend as they host bottom of the table Real Betis. Betis suffered their sixth loss in seven games after losing 2-0 at home to Athletic Bilbao. They have been dreadful on the road, picking up two draws and 10 losses in 12 games. Villarreal are an attacking, attractive side who can usually be relied on for goals and should be backed here.  

Atletico Madrid 24/10 draw 24/10 Real Madrid 11/10
The biggest match taking place in world football this weekend is undoubtedly the Madrid derby which will play a big part in the title race. Joint La Liga leaders at the start of the weekend Atletico Madrid were no match for a rampant Osasuna side, who put in a dominant display in beating their more-fancied opponents 3-0. Real Madrid now have a three-point advantage at the top of the table after their comfortable 3-0 win at home to Elche. Atletico will doubt themselves after that humiliation. Real Madrid have the best away record and are tipped for the all important win.

Sevilla 1/1 draw 24/10 Real Sociedad 28/10
Sevilla did well after being reduced to 10 men late in the game to beat struggling 1-0 Vallecano away from home. They now lie in eighth place and will host sixth place Real Sociedad who are flying high after beating Barcelona 3-1 at home. Upsets are few and far between in La Liga, but Real Sociedad thoroughly deserved their victory that prolongs Barcelona's travel sickness at the Anoeta Stadium - they have only two draws and three losses in their last five meetings there. Sociedad are chasing a consecutive Champions League finish and they lie four points behind fourth placed Athletic Bilbao. Sevilla have been inconsistent at home and they are tipped to play out to a draw, as they did in the reverse fixture. 

Barcelona 1/14 draw 10/10 Almeria 29/1
Barcelona were outclassed by their bogey team as they succumbed to their third loss of the season. This weekend they host newcomers Almeria whom they beat 2-0 away from home in the first round. Almeria have lost their last four away games. Barcelona won their last home match 6-1 over Vallecano and should easily beat the minnows here.

Rayo Vallecano 24/10 draw 24/10 Valencia 11/10
In stark contrast, the misery continues for Rayo Vallecano, who remain five points adrift of safety and second from bottom. They were beaten 1-0 at home by Sevilla and this weekend face a rampant Valencia team who are unbeaten in their last league six games. Most notable they went to the Camp Nou a month ago to overcome Barcelona with a 3-2 victory. Vallecano have lost nine of their 12 home fixtures in the league this season. Valencia have beaten Vallecano six times in the last seven meetings and are tipped for the win at a good price of 11/10. 

Written by Wayde Dorkin
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Soccer Pro’s La Liga Picks
Bilbao WIN 9/20
Malaga WIN 8/10
Levante DRAW 9/4
Getafe WIN 15/10
Elche DRAW 22/10
Villarreal WIN 4/10
Real Madrid WIN 11/10
Sevilla DRAW 24/10
Barcelona WIN 1/14
Valencia WIN 11/10