Spanish La Liga Preview

Lionel Messi became the all-time top goalscorer in La Liga history with a hat-trick as Barcelona swept aside Sevilla 5-1 last Saturday to remain two points adrift of league leaders Real Madrid. Madrid saw off minnows Eibar with ease thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo brace to register their 14th consecutive win in all competitions with a 4-0 victory. The table is shaping up as Atletico moved into third place with their 3-1 home win over a dangerous Malaga side.

Real Sociedad 6/10 draw 11/4 Elche 47/10
David Moyes picked up his first point as Real Sociedad manager in a goalless draw and provoked a touchline tantrum from the Deportivo bench. Sociedad hired Moyes to provoke a reaction and he got one from his team who gave a much improved display that so nearly delivered their first win on the road this season but there was also a reaction from Deportivo’s assistant coach who reacted to Moyes telling him to calm down after being issued a red card by the referee to leave the field. Their opponents this weekend, Elche, failed to beat bottom of the log Cordoba at home. However, after going 2-0 down they did well to earn a point scoring two late goals. Their two goals conceded means they now have the joint second worst defensive record in the league having conceded 24 goals in 12 matches. Fifteen of those goals have come on the road and with Sociedad having beaten Atletico Madrid in their last home match, the home win looks a good bet. 

Getafe 18/10 draw 21/10 Athletic Bilbao 31/20
Getafe played well but were unable to convert their many chances, going down 2-1 at Villarreal. They will host a Bilbao team who have travelled badly, losing four of their six travels and managing to score only twice while conceding 10 goals. Bilbao also have Champions League football to contend with during midweek and the home win is on offer at a valuable 18/10. 

Espanyol 13/20 draw 27/10 Levante 9/2
Espanyol continued their dismal away form when they fell to a 3-1 defeat at Athletic Bilbao last weekend. Although sitting on -17 goal difference, Levante are in a good run of form that has seen them pick up two home wins an away draw. They are coming off a 2-1 victory over high-flying Valencia which moved them out of the bottom three. Espanyol are without a win in five matches, suffering 3 losses and two draws. The draw is tipped. 

Malaga 15/2 draw 42/10 Real Madrid 7/20
Malaga were humbled 3-1 at Atletico Madrid last weekend and face another daunting task this weekend as they host league leaders Real Madrid. It seems as though Real Madrid can’t stop winning while Cristiano Ronaldo can’t stop scoring. Ronaldo netted two more goals and assisted another as Real Madrid won their ninth straight La Liga match 4-0 at Eibar. James Rodriguez and Karim Benzema scored the other two goals, improving on their excellent form as well. Since losing to Atletico Madrid in September, Los Blancos have only once failed to score three goals or more—in a 2-0 win at Villarreal. In the last 22 encounters, Real Madrid have lost only once to Malaga beating them 19 times. The away win is a sure bet.

Celta Vigo 6/10 draw 28/10 Eibar 9/2
Rayo Vallecano ended Celta Vigo’s four game unbeaten streak, beating them 1-0. They will host newly promoted Eibar who were thumped 4-0 at home by Real Madrid. Celta Vigo have conceded just two goals in their last five matches, which includes a 1-0 win at Camp Nou over Barcelona. Eibar went down 2-1 at Malaga in their last away match and Celta should manage to also claim three points off the minnows.  

Atletico Madrid 2/11 draw 11/2 Deportivo 14/1
Atletico Madrid moved into third place behind Real Madrid and Barcelona with a 3-1 home win over Malaga last Saturday. They will host a Deportivo side that are winless in their last four matches, losing once and drawing 0-0 three times. Their defensive game has improved drastically but their attack has been toothless. They will face an Atletico side that pride themselves on keeping the opposition out and they will need some luck to get on the scoresheet. The champions have been impeccable at home, winning five of their six matches and drawing only once. The home win is tipped. 

Sevilla 4/10 draw 36/10 Granada 13/2
Sevilla will welcome this fixture against Granada after coming off a 5-1 hammering at Camp Nou to Barcelona. Granada are in horrendous form having not won a match in their last 8 outings, losing five teams and drawing three. Sevilla have been excellent at home going unbeaten in their 6 matches there, winning four times. Sevilla won both league meetings last season, thrashing Granada 4-0 in this fixture. The home win is tipped. 

Cordoba 32/10 draw 5/2 Villarreal 17/20
Cordoba's wait for a first win of the season goes on after they threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Elche. Villarreal survived a spirited Getafe fight back to defeat their opponents 2-1 and earn their third home win from six. Villarreal have been inconsistent on the road but have let in only five goals in six travels. Cordoba have scored only four times at home from six games and Villarreal look likely to prolong Cordoba’s wait for a first victory. The newly promoted side held Deportivo and Real Sociedad to draws in their last two home games but should be outclassed by Villarreal. 

Valencia 9/2 draw 31/10 Barcelona 11/20
Valencia's bid to stay in the title race took a blow when they lost 2-1 at crosstown rivals Levante. Barcelona are coming off a 5-1 hammering of Sevilla in what was a memorable night for their greatest ever player. Lionel Messi moved level with legendary Atletic Bilbao striker Telmo Zarra when he opened the scoring with a trademark free-kick to register his 251st goal in his 289th appearance in the Spanish top flight. A Jordi Alba own goal briefly brought Sevilla level early in the second-half, but Neymar swiftly restored Barca’s advantage before Ivan Rakitic made the game safe when he headed home Luis Suarez’s enticing cross against his old club. Messi then took over as he slid in to convert Neymar’s low cross to set the new record and extended it moments later with a precise low finish to round off a fine evening for Luis Enrique’s men against a side that started the evening just two points adrift of the Catalans. Valencia managed only a goalless draw in their last home match against Athletic Bilbao. Barca are well worth 11/20 for the win.

Almeria 13/10 draw 24/10 Rayo Vallecano 2/1
Almeria broke their four game losing streak by holding Granada to a goalless draw away from home. They will host a Vallecano side who also broke a losing streak by beating Celta Vigo 1-0 at home. Almeria are yet to win at home and will look at this match as a perfect opportunity to change that against a Vallecano side who lost 5-1 to Real Madrid and 4-0 to Malaga in their last two away matches. Almeria are tipped for the win.

Written by Wayde Dorkin
Follow him on Twitter here!

Soccer Pro’s La Liga Picks
Sociedad WIN 6/10
Getafe WIN 18/10
Espanyol DRAW 27/10
Real Madrid WIN 7/20
Celta Vigo WIN 6/10
Atletico WIN 2/11
Sevilla WIN 4/10
Villarreal WIN 17/20
Barcelona WIN 11/20
Almeria WIN 13/10