Spanish La Liga Preview

Real Madrid Take Full Advantage of Barcelona's Slip Up 

Real Madrid earned a firm grip on the La Liga after a comfortable win over Levante, with the Los Blancos increasing their lead from Barcelona following the defending champions' shock defeat to Valladolid.

Atletico Madrid had gone level with Real momentarily after their 2-0 win Celta Vigo late on Saturday, courtesy of a brace from David Villa, but their crosstown rivals pulled three points clear following a worry-free 3-0 result against 10-man Levante.

Getafe 12/10 draw 23/10 Granada 24/10
Getafe parted ways with head coach Luis Garcia after the team lost against last placed Real Betis on the weekend. It was Getafe's 12th straight match without a victory and the team's board decided it was time to make a move in an attempt to avoid relegation. They have now turned to former Romania international Cosmin Contra to try and save their La Liga status. The 38-year-old played almost 100 games for Getafe. They will host Granada who lie three points ahead of them and are coming off an excellent 2-0 home win over Villarreal. Often teams manage to start a new coach’s reign with some good results and Getafe are tipped to do just that with a win here. 

Levante 15/10 draw 22/10 Celta Vigo 19/10
Levante and Celta Vigo were losers at the weekend after playing against title chasers Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid respectively. Levante managed a 1-0 win in the first round encounter but have been poor at home winning just five out of 13 games and scoring just 13 goals. Celta Vigo have managed five more goals on the road, winning five and losing eight times without a draw yet. The draw is on the cards. 

Vallecano 1/1 draw 24/10 Almeria 
Vallecano are coming off an impressive 3-2 away win at Real Sociedad and will host Almeria this weekend whom they beat 1-0 in the reverse fixture. Almeria joined Vallecano in the relegation zone after losing their sixth game in 9 matches after losing 3-1 at home to Sevilla. Almeria have been poor on the road losing 10 of their 14 matches, scoring just 12 goals. Back the home win.

Malaga 9/1 draw 53/10 Real Madrid 1/4
Cristiano Ronaldo sent Real Madrid to the top of La Liga with one of those slam-dunk headers that are becoming as much his trademark as his unstoppable free-kicks. Ronaldo also assisted Marcelo for Real Madrid’s second goal and got defender David Navarro sent off in the second half of a convincing 3-0 win. The third goal was an own goal which sealed Madrid’s 29th match without a loss. Malaga gave their La Liga survival hopes a massive boost with a 2-0 away win over Osasuna, despite being reduced to 10 men early in the second half. Malaga and Real Madrid have met 27 times with Malaga managing just one win to Madrid’s 20. Madrid are in red hot form and should outclass Malaga here. 

Atletico Madrid 3/10 draw 9/2 Espanyol 78/10
Atletico Madrid leapfrogged Barcelona to second place with a 2-0 win at Celta Vigo. Atletico were missing their leading scorer, Diego Costa, playmaker Arda Turan and centre-back Diego Godin, all through suspension, which meant that Villa, recently dropped from the Spain squad for the 1-0 friendly win against Italy, got the nod up front. And after a dull first half, the former Barcelona striker scored his 12th and 13th league goals of the campaign. Espanyol eased to a 3-1 win at home over Elche on Sunday, keeping the Barcelona-based club in the chase for a Europa League berth. They will have it all to do this weekend as they travel to Vicente Calderon where Atletico are unbeaten this season with 11 wins from 14 matches scoring 43 goals and conceding just nine. Espanyol won the first round meeting 1-0 but Atletico should get their revenge here. 

Elche 13/10 draw 9/4 Real Betis 21/10
Elche will return to their home ground this weekend where they beat Celta Vigo 1-0 two weeks back. Relegation bound Real Betis are coming off their fourth win of the season after beating Getafe 2-0 at home. They have however been horrific on the road, losing 10 of their 10 matches without a single win. Elche won the first round clash 1-0 despite playing half the match with 10 men and are tipped to claim the home win here.  

Barcelona 1/14 draw 95/10 Osasuna 31/10
Barcelona's bid for a fifth La Liga title in six years suffered a surprise setback when they crashed to a 1-0 defeat at lowly Valladolid and opened the door for Real Madrid to pull four points clear at the top. It was one of Barca's worst performances of the season and they will be looking to bounce back this weekend when they host 14th place Osasuna. Barca drew the first round fixture with them 0-0 but won this match 5-1 at Camp Nou last season. After beating Atletico Madrid at home, Osasuna have lost 2-0 to Levante and Malaga. Barca are a banker bet and should be taken to win at half-time at 3/10 rather than 1/14 in 90 minutes.  

Sevilla 4/10 draw 37/10 Valladolid 6/1
Sevilla beat Andalusian neighbours Almeria 3-1 away to close the gap on 5th placed Villarreal for a Europa spot to just two points. It was Sevilla’s third win on the trot in La Liga and sixth game going unbeaten in all competitions. Valladolid are flying high after stunning Barcelona with a 1-0 away win that moved them out of the relegation zone. The reverse fixture ended in a 2-2 draw but Sevilla should edge the win at home. 

Real Sociedad 11/10 draw 24/10 Valencia 5/2
Real Sociedad are coming off a disappointing 3-2 loss at home to Vallecano. They will hope to redeem themselves when they host Valencia who drew -1 at home to Athletic Bilbao. It was Sociedad’s second loss at home all season while Valencia have travelled badly winning just three of 13 travels and losing seven. Sociedad have beaten Valencia in the last five meetings and should be backed to make it six here. 

Villarreal 11/10 draw 24/10 Athletico Bilbao 24/10
Villarreal have dropped off the pace for a Champions League place after losing three of their last five games. They have a perfect chance of closing fourth place Athletic Bilbao’s lead over them to just four points with a win here. However, Bilbao won the reverse fixture 2-0 and should earn another point here after drawing 1-1 at Valencia last weekend.

Written by Wayde Dorkin
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Soccer Pro’s La Liga Picks
Getafe WIN 12/10
Levante DRAW 22/10
Vallecano WIN 1/1
Real Madrid WIN 1/4
Atletico WIN 3/10
Elche WIN 13/10
Barca HT WIN 3/10
Sevilla WIN 4/10
Sociedad WIN 11/10
Villarreal DRAW 24/10