Spanish La Liga Preview




All three teams at the top of the Spanish La Liga standings recorded victories last weekend, as the race for title glory tightens with just seven matches left in the season.

Almeria 13/10 draw 21/10 Osasuna 21/10
Relegation threatened Almeria and Osasuna get things started on Friday night. Just one goal separates them as they both lie on 30 points above the bottom two sides. Almeria are coming off a 1-0 away loss at Valladolid after going down to 10 men for the last 15 minutes of the match. They will be glad to return to their home ground where they have scored six goals in their last two home games with a 4-3 win over Real Sociedad followed up by a 2-2 draw with Valencia two weeks ago. Osasuna ended a six game losing streak when they hosted sixth place Sociedad by earning a 1-1 draw. Osasuna struggle on the road and have scored just 9 goals in 16 travels while Almeria have netted 23 times in their 15 home matches. Almeria won the first round encounter 1-0 and are tipped to get the crucial three points again here. 

Atletico Madrid 9/20 draw 32/10 Villarreal 56/10 
Atletico Madrid travelled to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday knowing that three points would see them return to the top of La Liga after Barcelona win on the same day. Iker Muniain handed Bilbao the lead inside six minutes, but a Diego Costa strike levelled the scores on 22 minutes. Atletico moved ahead in the early stages of the second period through Koke and the Spaniard's effort was enough for Atletico to move above Barca into first spot. With just seven games left in La Liga Atletico are in control of their own destiny. Home advantage will be vital as they host Villarreal on Saturday. Atletico are unbeaten at home in 16 games this season, drawing just three times. Villarreal have lost their last three away games to Granada, Valencia and Getafe. The home win is tipped confidently. 

Barcelona 1/16 draw 11/1 Betis 22/1
Barcelona travelled to local rivals Espanyol last Saturday knowing that three points would see them return to the top of the La Liga table, for a couple of hours at least. An end-to-end first period brought a number of chances for both sides, but the score remained goalless at the interval. Barcelona had to wait until the final 15 minutes to secure all the points, with a late Lionel Messi penalty finding the back of the net. This weekend they couldn’t have hoped for an easier fixture against bottom of the log Betis who have won just one of their 15 travels. Barcelona have won 14 of their 15 home games and won the reverse fixture at Betis 4-1. 

Real Sociedad 44/10 draw 31/10 Real Madrid 11/20
Real Madrid rebounded from their first back-to-back losses in years with a stunning 5-0 win against Vallecano at the Bernabeu on Saturday evening. Real completely dominated from the start en route to a 5-0 win that keeps them three points off leaders Atletico Madrid. They face a potential banana skin this Saturday when they travel to Real Sociedad. However, Madrid won the reverse fixture 5-1 and have won nine of the last 10 clashes between the sides, drawing once. The away win should be taken at 11/20. 

Vallecano 11/10 draw 23/10 Celta Vigo 23/10
Vallecano play host to Celta Vigo with both sides looking for points to move firther away from the relegation scrap. Vallecano felt the wrath of Real Madrid last weekend, going down 5-0 at the Bernabeu. Celta Vigo recorded an impressive 1-0 home win against fifth place Sevilla. Vallecano have won six home games and lost nine while Celta Vigo have that exact record on their travels. With both sides evenly matched and yet to record draws at home and away respectively, the draw is tipped here.

Malaga 21/20 draw 24/10 Granada 26/10
While Granada were losers on Monday night at home to Levante, Malaga scored twice in the final eight minutes for a 2-1 victory at last-place Real Betis. Granada struggle to score goals on the road having scored just 11 in 15 games so far. Malaga won this fixture 4-0 last season and should do enough to earn the much needed three points in order to steer clear of relegation. 

Elche 11/10 draw 22/10 Getafe 26/10
Elche recorded their third draw in four games as they held Villarreal 1-1 away from home to stay two points above the drop zone. Getafe, meanwhile, moved a point out of the relegation places by stunning Valencia with a 3-1 win away from home. They drew the first round match 1-1 and Getafe are tipped to build on their superb win last weekend. 

Sevilla 7/10 draw 27/10 Espanyol 38/10
Sevilla went into their match at Celta Vigo with a purpose, as they were six points away from robbing Athletic Bilbao of their Champions League spot, but at the end of 90 minutes a penalty scored by Celta Vigo was the difference. This weekend they host an Espanyol side who put up a good fight against their domestic rivals Barcelona, losing just 1-0. However, Sevilla will be confident at their home stadium where they beat Real Madrid 2-1 last time out. They also won the reverse fixture 3-1 and are tipped for the home win. 

Valladolid 22/10 draw 23/10 Valencia 12/10
Valladolid went into their match against relegation rivals Almeria on Sunday looking for maximum points to close the three point gap between them and got just that with a 1-0 home win. This weekend they host Valencia who last weekend lost at home to Getafe who were winless in 15 matches. Interestingly Valladolid managed a 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture. They have been getting some good results and a few weeks ago managed that memorable 1-0 win at home to Barcelona. Valladolid will fight hard here to avoid the drop and they are my value bet of the weekend at 22/10. 
 
Levante 29/10 draw 24/10 Athletic Bilbao 19/20
Levante ended a four-game winless streak with a 2-0 win at Granada on Monday night. The Valencia club are marooned in mid-table and have been off the pace form-wise, but managed to put a fine second-half performance together to take the win. Forth place Athletic Bilbao lost 2-1 at home to high-flying Atletico Madrid. Bilbao won the reverse fixture 2-1 and are unbeaten in their last three travels while Levante have lost their last two home games. The away win is tipped. 

Written by Wayde Dorkin
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Soccer Pro’s La Liga Picks
Almeria WIN 13/10
Atletico WIN 9/20
Barcelona WIN 1/16
Real Madrid WIN 11/20
Vallecano DRAW 23/10
Malaga WIN 21/20
Getafe WIN 6/10
Sevilla WIN 7/10
Valladolid WIN 22/10
Bilbao WIN 19/20