Spanish La Liga Preview

La Liga reached its halfway stage at the weekend with wins for Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at the top of the table. Messi grabbed the headlines once again as he netted a hat-trick in Barca’s 4-0 win while Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale got on the scoresheet in Real’s win after they suffered cup disappointment in the week. This weekend will see both Real and Barca on the road in what looks to be relatively easy fixtures, while the race for fourth spot will heat up as Valencia host Sevilla, who currently lie fourth.

Cordoba  20/1 draw 67/10 Real Madrid 1/7
After getting knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Atletico Madrid last Thursday, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale ensured Real Madrid bounce back in the league, helping their side win 3-0 over Getafe on Sunday. They will travel to newly promoted Cordoba who only earned a point at home to Eibar last Friday. Cordoba have managed only 15 goals from their 9 matches this season. Madrid won the reverse fixture 2-0 and should keep a clean sheet against Cordoba once again, take Real Madrid to be the Only Team To Score at 7/10.

Elche 14/1 draw 6/1 Barcelona 2/11
Fresh off a 4-0 win over Deportivo last weekend, Barcelona will face an Elche team who will surely dread playing against the giants. Barcelona and Elche have met three times already this season, twice in the cup and once in the league, and Barca have won all three matches by 4-0, 5-0 and 3-0 scorelines. Lionel Messi was once again in top form bagging a hat-trick and Elche will need to keep a close eye on the little maestro to avoid similar happening to them. There isn’t much value in the away win so I’m tipping the 2nd Half To Have Most Goals at 1/1. 

Atletico Madrid 3/10 draw 47/10 Rayo Vallecano 87/10
Atletico Madrid maintained their excellent form after knocking Real Madrid out of the cup by easing past Granada 2-0 at home. Mario Mandzukic got Atletico off the mark by scoring a penalty while Raul Garcia capped off the victory in the 88th minute. Atletico will host a Rayo Vallecano team who held them to a goalless draw in the first round but with home advantage they should surely get revenge. Last season the champions thumped Vallecano 5-0 here and although Vallecano are coming off a 1-0 away win over Real Sociedad, they should be humbled here. Back the home win. 

Villarreal 3/10 draw 42/10 Levante 10/1
Villarreal got their bid for a top-four finish back on track with a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Athletic Bilbao. An expertly-taken first-half goal from Denis Cheryshev put the hosts on course for a first league win of the year and Bruno Soriano's late penalty put the result beyond doubt. The victory helped Villarreal bounce back from successive league draws, albeit away from home, which had dampened their Champions League challenge. They will host a Levante side coming off a 1-0 away defeat to Elche and are winless in their last seven games. Villarreal have won the last three head-to-heads and are strong favourites to make it four in a row against Levante.

Real Sociedad 15/20 draw 5/2 Eibar 4/1
Real Sociedad’s bid to climb away from the La Liga relegation places suffered a setback when they were beaten 1-0 at home by Rayo Vallecano and were roundly whistled by their own fans. Sociedad had gotten some good results since David Moyes took over in November after a poor start to the campaign but their latest setback comes after they were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Villarreal last Wednesday. They will come up against an Eibar side who have lost just once in their last seven games and are coming off a 1-1 draw away to Cordoba. Eibar won the reverse fixture 1-0 but Moyes’ side are tipped to get back to winning ways at home where they have beaten Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid this season. 

Deportivo 5/4 draw 22/10 Granada 23/10
Deportivo were helpless in their 4-0 thrashing from Barcelona but will be more hopeful when they host Granada this weekend. After four matches Granada had won twice and drawn twice but have since slumped so badly that they sit rock bottom of the pile. Together with Levante, Deportivo have conceded the most goals at home, 18. Granada won the first round fixture 2-1 and are tipped to claim a draw. 

Athletic Bilbao 21/20 draw 9/4 Malaga 11/4
Athletic Bilbao are looking hopeless at the moment and lost their fourth straight league game at the weekend, going down 2-0 at Villarreal. They will host a Malaga side who also suffered a 2-0 away loss, losing to Sevilla. Bilbao managed a 3-0 win in this fixture last season and although they look a shadow of themselves, are tipped to turn their form around with a win. 

Espanyol 15/20 draw 5/2 Almeria 4/1
Espanyol are coming off a good 1-0 home win against Celta Vigo and will host an Almeria side who are coming off successive away losses to Getafe (1-0) and Valencia (3-2). Espanyol have not beaten Almeria in the last four meetings between the sides with Almeria winning twice. Almeria will fight hard not to lose a third away match and should at least claim a draw. 

Valencia 11/10 draw 23/10 Sevilla 23/10
Valencia have been excellent at home this season but face a stern test when they host a Sevilla side who are competing with them for a Champions League place. Valencia have won eight of their 10 home games, losing only once and boast a home win over Real Madrid in that record. Sevilla have managed to win five of their eight travels, losing three times. Valencia have also banged in 23 goals at home, conceding just seven while Sevilla have scored only 11 on the road, letting in 12. Valencia managed a 1-1 draw away to Sevilla in the first round and are tipped to beat Sevilla with home advantage. 

Getafe 18/10 draw 21/10 Celta Vigo 31/20
Getafe lost their third straight match, going down 3-0 to league leaders Real Madrid. Celta Vigo are in horrendous form and are coming off a 1-0 loss away to Espanyol. Getafe’s five goals at home is the worst scoring record at home for any side in the league and Celta will be hoping to finally claim a win. Celta won the first round meeting 3-1 and are tipped to pull the double over Getafe.

Written by Wayde Dorkin
Follow him on Twitter here!

Soccer Pro’s La Liga Picks
Real Madrid ONLY TEAM TO SCORE 7/10
Atletico Madrid WIN 3/10
Villarreal WIN 3/10
Real Sociedad WIN 15/20
Deportivo DRAW 22/10
Athletic Bilbao WIN 21/20
Espanyol DRAW 5/2
Valencia WIN 11/10
Celta Vigo WIN 31/20