Spanish La Liga Preview

La Liga’s title contenders remain at the top of their game with all three earning good victories at the weekend. Gameweek 22 is sure to throw a spanner in the works as leaders Real Madrid travel to the Vicente Calderon to take on champions Atletico Madrid.

Deportivo 11/10 draw 2/1 Eibar 28/10  
A debut double from Costa Rica star Celso Borges earned Deportivo La Coruna a 2-1 win at Rayo Vallecano last Friday night. Deportivo had previous only beaten Eibar away from home in the league this season, but Borges' 72nd-minute penalty ultimately proved decisive in an even encounter. The 26-year-old, who impressed for his country at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, arrived on loan from Swedish side AIK Stockholm this month and made an instant impact after waiting over two weeks to make his first appearance. He will have a perfect chance to add to his tally when Deportivo host fellow newcomers Eibar whom they beat 1-0 in the reverse fixture. Eibar are coming off their second consecutive loss when they went down 3-1 at home to Atletico Madrid. Deportivo are tipped to pull the double over Eibar.  

Atletico Madrid 22/10 draw 23/10 Real Madrid 12/10
This weekend sees the fiercest local derby in Spain between champions Atletico Madrid and log leaders Real Madrid fixtured. This match is an ideal opportunity for Atletico to close the gap on their rivals to just one point, while a win for Real Madrid could be the decisive blow in Atletico’s title race. Atletico come into this game in great form with three consecutive league wins and also having knocked Real out of the Copa del Rey three weeks back.  Real Madrid proved they can win without Cristiano Ronaldo as they overpowered Real Sociedad to win 4-1 at the Bernabeu last weekend, but will welcome their talisman back for this crunch clash after his two game suspension. In the last seven meetings between these sides Atletico have not tasted defeat, holding Real to four draws and winning on three occasions. They have met three times this season with Atletico winning the league encounter at the Bernabeu 2-1 and then winning 2-0 at home in the cup before holding Madrid to a draw in the second leg of the competition. Atleti clearly have a game plan for Real that limits their strengths. The champions look free flowing in attack with Antoine Griezmann at the top of his game, while Fernando Torres is looking like his old self. Back Diego Simeone’s men for the home win.
Villarreal 3/10 draw 42/10 Granada 17/2
Villarreal fell short of continuing their impressive form when they went down 3-2 at Barcelona. The Yellow Submarines disappointed themselves by letting their lead slip twice. Relegation candidates Granada managed to move away from bottom of the table with a 1-0 home win over Elche in what was a tightly contested match. Villarreal should get back to their unstoppable form against a team like Granada. They managed only a draw in the first round but looking at form and taking home advantage into consideration, Villarreal look a banker bet.  

Levante 9/4 draw 21/10 Malaga 13/10
Levante’s 2-0 home loss to Athletic Bilbao last weekend dropped them to bottom of the table. They will host a Malaga side who are coming off a 1-0 home win against 10-man Valencia. Levante have beaten Malaga at home in the Copa del Rey this season and also won this fixture last season. Their poor run has to come to an end soon. Malaga are winless in their last three away games in all competitions. Back the home win. 

Real Sociedad 14/10 draw 9/4 Celta Vigo 19/10
Real Sociedad took the lead against Real Madrid but the glory was short lived as they were at the wrong end of a 4-1 thrashing. Celta Vigo ended their horrible run of form with a much needed 1-0 win at home to Cordoba. Celta Vigo will be more confident and will not want to go back to losing so soon. Sociedad are inconsistent at home and with the draw being the result in the last two meetings between these sides, it should be backed once again. 

Cordoba 13/10 draw 21/10 Almeria 23/10  
This is an important game as these sides have an opportunity to gain points while also taking some off of fellow relegation threatened rivals. Cordoba lost 1-0 at Celta Vigo last time out while Almeria ended a three match losing streak with a 1-0 win at home to Getafe. Cordoba have won just one game at home all season while Almeria have won four travels in the same amount of games. The away win is tipped at great value. 

Getafe 3/1 draw 9/4 Sevilla 1/1 
After losing at Valencia, Sevilla got back on track with a thrilling 3-2 victory at home to Espanyol. The victory was well deserved as Sevilla played the entire second half with 10 men, with on-loan Liverpool striker Iago Aspas getting the winner for the home team. Sevilla will now travel to Getafe who have lost four of their last five league games and are coming off a 1-0 away loss to Almeria. Sevilla won the first round meeting 2-0 but lost their last away game 3-1 at Valencia while Getafe have beaten Celta Vigo in the league and Villarreal in the cup in their last two home games. Getafe also won this fixture 1-0 last season, back the draw. 

Espanyol 18/10 draw 21/10 Valencia 31/20 
Espanyol lost 3-2 at Sevilla last time out but will return to their home ground where they have been superb of late. The 9th placed club have won their last four home games in all competitions which includes a 2-0 win over Valencia in the cup. Valencia’s inconsistency away from home continued when they went down 1-0 to Malaga, dropping them a place to fifth on the table. After going a goal down early in the game, Valencia failed to assert themselves and went a man down in the 70th minute which piled even more pressure their way. Espanyol won this match 3-1 last season and should bag another home victory. 

Athletic Bilbao 67/10 draw 4/1 Barcelona 7/20
Athletic Bilbao ended their seven game winless streak with a 2-0 win away to Levante. Any hopes of continuing on a high will be short-lived as they prepare to host second place Barcelona. Lionel Messi scored the winning goal as Barca twice came from behind to beat Villarreal and record their eighth victory in a row. Barca beat Bilbao 2-0 at Camp Nou and should do enough to see them off once again. 

Elche 16/10 draw 21/10 Rayo Vallecano 18/10
Elche dropped to 19th place when they lost 1-0 at Granada last weekend. They return home where they have scored six goals in 11 games. Rayo Vallecano is one team who should be happy when playing away. They have the worst home record in the league, losing seven and winning just twice from 10 matches while away from home they have earned five victories. However, Elche won the reverse fixture 3-2 this season and should claim the win here as they also did last season.

Written by Wayde Dorkin
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Soccer Pro’s La Liga Picks
Deportivo WIN 11/10
Atletico WIN 22/10
Villarreal WIN 3/10
Levante WIN 9/4
Real Sociedad DRAW 9/4
Almeria WIN 23/10
Getafe DRAW 9/4
Espanyol WIN 18/10
Barcelona WIN 7/20
Elche WIN 16/10