Spanish La Liga Preview

There were no major shocks in the first week of La Liga as Barcelona and Real Madrid shot to the top of the table while champions Atletico slumped to a draw without some of last season’s stars.

Getafe 21/20 draw 23/10 Almeria 5/1
Getafe will be hopeful at home to Almeria after failing to cause an upset on the road last weekend going down 3-1 to Celta Vigo. Almeria looked to start off the season on the right foot and after going a goal up against Espanyol but let their guard down in 94th minute to draw 1-1. Getafe finished only two points above Almeria last weekend. However, Almeria lost 13 matches of their 19 travels last season and the home win is tipped. 

Valencia 6/10 draw 28/10 Malaga 44/10
Ten-man Valencia struck late to claim a 1-1 away draw against Sevilla last weekend. Sevilla’s goal just before the break looked set to earn Rojiblancos all three points. However, Valencia never stopped fighting, even after the dismissal of Rodrigo midway through the second half, and were rewarded for their persistence with just over a minute of normal time remaining. Malaga held on to beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0, after the new coach Javi Gracia’s winning debut was almost spoiled by two of his players earning red cards in a wild finale. Valencia were inconsistent at home last season but still managed 10 wins from their 19 home games. Valencia are unbeaten against Malaga at home in their 13 meetings at Mestalla. Ten of those 13 matches were won and Valencia should be backed. 

Athletic Bilbao 7/20 draw 33/10 Levante 79/10
Athletic Bilbao fell to a 1-0 loss at Malaga in their league opener but last season’s fourth place finishers will be confident of three points when they host Levante. Bilbao were formidable at home last season, winning 13 of their 19 home games, losing just twice. Levante started their season with a disappointing 2-0 loss at home to Villarreal. Their away record was poor last season and they will need to play out of their socks to get a result here. Bilbao pulled the double over Levante last season and the home win looks a sure bet.

Cordoba 21/10 draw 22/10 Celta Vigo 5/4
Celta Vigo are in the top flight for the first time in 42 years after some fortunate events last season that resulted in them scraping promotion without ever looking convincing. They slimped to a 2-0 loss to Real Madrid on Monday night and will be a little more hopeful here even though they host a Celta Vigo side looking to build on last season’s ninth place finish. Celta produced a quality attacking display to get themselves off to a flying start in La Liga with a 3-1 home win against Getafe. Celta Vigo were inconsistent on the road last season and with home advantage the draw looks the safest bet. 

Atletico Madrid 1/5 draw 5/1 Eibar 10/1
Diego Simeone watched from the stands as champions Atletico Madrid made a stuttering start to their La Liga title defence at Rayo Vallecano. The Argentine coach, starting an eight-match ban, saw his side create little against their Madrid neighbours. New striker Mario Mandzukic wasted their best chances as Atletico failed to match the opening weekend wins by title rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona. Keeper Miguel Angel Moya stretched to stop Manucho heading a winner. The ex-Manchester United striker also saw Moya keep out his overhead kick in the final 10 minutes, ensuring the visitors left with a hard-fought point. After overcoming obstacles on and off the pitch, Eibar, a town with a population of less than 28,000, enjoyed a fairytale first taste of the top flight. Javi Lara scored a brilliant free kick to give Eibar a historic 1-0 victory over Real Sociedad in their first ever La Liga game on Sunday. Eibar topped the Segunda Division but were inconsistent on the road with a 8-8-5 record from 21 games. Atletico were unbeaten at home last season and after failing to win their opener, are a banker bet to get their first win here. 

Espanyol 16/10 draw 22/10 Sevilla 16/10
Both sides started their league campaigns with draws. Sevilla were held 1-1 at home by 10-man Valencia while Espanyol also got one point on the board with a 1-1 draw at Almeria. Sevilla did well at home last season, losing four games from 19 and winning 11. Espanyol lost 11 matches while winning just four. Sevilla are unbeaten against Espanyol in the last 10 meetings. Back the away win. 

Villarreal 41/10 draw 31/10 Barcelona 11/20
Now in their second season back in the top flight, last season’s sixth place finishers Villarreal will be out to prove they can challenge the ‘top dogs’ when they host Barcelona on Sunday.  The Yellow Submarines kicked-off their campaign in sublime fashion, easing to a 2-0 away win over Levante. A Lionel Messi brace and a delightful finish from teenager Munir El Haddadi kicked off Luis Enrique's Barcelona reign with a 3-0 win over Elche. Barca are unbeaten against Villarreal in 13 games, recording 10 victories. The away win offers great value for Barcelona’s standards at 11/20.   

Deportivo 11/10 draw 23/10 Rayo Vallecano 22/10
Newly promoted Deportivo lost a 1-0 lead against Granada last weekend to lose the match 2-1 despite giving a good account of themselves. Vallecano were excellent against Atletico Madrid on Monday night, with the La Liga holders lucky to escape with a point. Vallecano struggled on the road last season, losing 10 of their 19 travels, winning just five times. The home win looks a good bet at 11/10. 

Real Sociedad 58/10 draw 36/10 Real Madrid 4/10
Cristiano Ronaldo scored goal number 255 in his 250th game for Real Madrid but there were some whistles of discontent at Carlo Ancelotti’s side as they struggled to beat newly promoted Cordoba – a team who finished seventh in the second division last season. Ronaldo’s late spectacular second for the European Champions after Karim Benzema’s first half strike put a gloss on what was a far from convincing first home performance of the season.Discontent over the sale of Angel Di Maria, defeat in the Spanish Super Cup against Atletico Madrid, and the failure to sign Radamel Falcao increased the pressure on the European Champions to put on a show but they toiled for large parts against plucky minnows Cordoba. This weekend they travel to Real Sociedad who were stunned by 1-0 at minnows Eibar. The last time Sociedad recorded a win over Madrid was in 2004. That’s 15 games unbeaten for Madrid with last season’s thumpings, 5-1 and 0-4 respectively, highlighting their dominance over Sociedad. The away wins is tipped. 

Elche 12/10 draw 21/10 Granada 9/4
These sides finished a point apart last season as they battled their way out of relegation. Elche started the season against Barcelona and were helpless in their 3-0 loss at Camp Nou. Granada took on their first test of what promises to be an exciting season under new manager, Joaquin Caparros, securing three points in a hotly contested match against newly promoted Deportivo La Coruna. Elche only scraped up 13 goals from 19 matches at home last season while Granada managed to score just 14. The draw is on the cards.

Written by Wayde Dorkin
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Soccer Pro’s La Liga Picks
Getafe WIN 21/20
Valencia WIN 6/10
Bilbao WIN 7/20
Cordoba DRAW 22/10
Atletico WIN 1/5
Sevilla WIN 16/10
Barcelona WIN 11/20
Deportivo WIN 11/10
Real Madrid WIN 4/10
Elche DRAW 21/10