Spanish La Liga Preview

Perhaps the Champions League success for Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid was the best thing that could happen to Barcelona — at least as far as the domestic title race is concerned.

The Madrid clubs stumbled in La Liga on Sunday as they looked sapped of energy following their wins in the Champions League semi-finals to set up a city derby in the final.

That has provided Barcelona with renewed hope after the defending champion wrote themselves off.

Athletic Bilbao 8/10 draw 26/10 Real Sociedad 32/10
Athletic Bilbao secured their return to the Champions League next season by winning 3-0 at Rayo Vallecano on Friday night to lock up a fourth-place finish in La Liga. With Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Barcelona destined to take the top three spots, Bilbao fended off Sevilla's late surge to seal their return to Europe's top-tier competition for the first time since the 1998-99 season. Their opponents, sixth place Sociedad have clinched the last Europa spot. Bilbao are strong at home while Sociedad have a tendency to concede one too many goals. The home win is tipped.

Atletico Madrid 2/11 draw 46/10 Malaga 20/1
Atletico Madrid's charge toward the La Liga title took a sudden downward turn at the weekend, losing 2-0 at Levante.  With two games remaining, a win would have meant they needed just two more points to secure the league title. Fortunately for them, both Barcelona and Real Madrid also blundered. Malaga were beaten 1-0 at home by an Elche side desperate to pull away from the relegation zone. Atletico are the only side unbeaten at home in the league. They won the reverse fixture 1-0 and should pull the double over Malaga to set up an encounter against Barcelona on the final matchday. 

Betis 19/10 draw 23/10 Valladolid 27/20
Relegated Betis lost their 24th league match and their 6th consecutive game against Almeria at the weekend. They have a chance to salvage some pride when they host a Valladolid side who have won just one away game all season. Valladolid’s last away match ended in a 4-1 defeat to Celta Vigo. The draw is on the cards.

Celta Vigo 12/1 draw 37/10 Real Madrid 1/4
Real Madrid will trevel to Celta Vigo this weekend hoping to secure maximum points to keep their title chances alive. Cristiano Ronaldo salvaged a 2-2 draw at home to Valencia on Sunday night after going 2-1 down. Celta Vigo moved into eight position after a third straight victory with a 2-0 away win over Osasuna.  Madrid have scored almost double the amount of goals on the road than Celta have scored at home. A Ronaldo brace helped earn Real a 3-0 win in the reverse fixture and they should be backed to do similar here. 

Elche 79/10 draw 51/10 Barcelona 1/4
Elche scored at the death to beat Espanyol 1-0 away from home. Barcelona managed only a point at home to Getafe, drawing 2-2. Fortunately they are still in the title race due to Atletico and Real also slipping up. Barca need maximum points here and should claim another victory over Elche after beating them 4-0 in the reverse fixture. 

Espanyol 21/20 draw 23/10 Osasuna 27/10
After securing safety Espanyol have gone on to gain just one point in their last six matches. Osasuna find themselves in the relegation zone, one point away from safety, after winning just one match in their last nine. Osasuna have scored just 11 goals in 18 away matches. Home advantage should get Espanyol the win. 

Getafe 14/10 draw 24/10 Sevilla 18/10
If Getafe are to avoid relegation then their place in La Liga next season would be well earned. They sit one point above the relegation zone after earning five points from their last three matches, including a 2-2 draw at Barcelona at the weekend. The other points were picked up with a 1-0 home win over Malaga and a 0-0 draw at Levante. They host a Sevilla side who have nothing to play for and have lost their last two away games 3-1. Back the home win. 

Granada 21/20 draw 23/10 Almeria 26/10
Granada earned a valuable point at Real Sociedad on Moday night to secure their place in La Liga next season. A last-gasp goal gave 10-man Almeria a 3-2 win at home over relegated Real Betis to help pull them out of the drop zone on the weekend.  They now lie just one points ahead of two teams in the relegation zone and will be desperate for a win here. Granada have losy five of their last seven games. Almeria won the first round meeting 3-0 and are tipped to win their third consecutive match that should secure safety.

Levante 17/10 draw 9/4 Valencia 31/20
Levante got the best result in La Liga last weekend, denting Atletico’s title hopes defeating the Madrid team 2-0 at home. Valencia will also be in a confident mood after drawing 2-2 against Real Madrid at the Bernanbeu. Valencia won the reverse fixture 2-0 and Levante have been inconsistent at home. However, with home advantage the draw looks the most likely result. 

Villarreal 9/20 draw 34/10 Rayo Vallecano 54/10
Villarreal will be hoping to get back to winning ways after losing to Barcelona and drawing at Sevilla. They earned a victory in their last home game which was against Levante. Vallecano were comprehensively beaten 3-0 at home to Bilbao last Friday. The Yellow Submarines have dominated previous encounters. They are unbeaten in their last eight matches against Vallecano of which they have won six. Back the home win.

Written by Wayde Dorkin
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Soccer Pro’s La Liga Picks
Bilbao WIN 8/10
Atletico WIN  2/11
Betis DRAW 23/10
Real Madrid WIN 1/4
Barcelona WIN 1/4
Espanyol WIN 21/20
Getafe WIN 14/10
Almeria WIN 26/10
Levante DRAW 9/4
Villarreal WIN 9/20