Spanish La Liga Preview

Atletico Madrid missed a chance to go top of La Liga after losing 1-0 away to Malaga last time out. Rojiblancos are level with Barcelona on 35 points with the Catalans boasting a better goal difference along with a game in hand. The La Liga champions beat River Plate 3-0 to win the Club World Cup last Sunday and are overwhelming favourites to oust Real Betis at the Camp Nou. Real Madrid closed the gap to just two points after thrashing Rayo Vallecano 10-2 last time out. Gameweek 17 of the Spanish La Liga has some cracking fixtures lined up with some enticing odds on offer.

Wednesday 30 December

31/20 Levante | Draw 2/1 | Malaga 18/10 (17:00)

Bottom-placed Levante come into this match off the back of a 2-0 defeat to Athletic Bilbao. Les Granotes are now winless in six matches in all competitions with four losses including three on the trot. Malaga recorded a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Atletico Madrid last time out. Coach Javi Gracia will be looking to build on that performance. The Anchovies are unbeaten in their last two matches on the road – a draw against Athletic Bilbao, followed by a 2-1 win at Rayo Vallecano. I’m tipping Malaga to clinch the away win at 18/10.

1/10 Real Madrid | 77/10 | Real Sociedad 17/1 (17:00)

Real Madrid are within two points of La Liga leaders Barcelona after demolishing nine-man Rayo Vallecano 10-2 last time out. Gareth Bale doubled his season's tally with four goals, while Karim Benzema grabbed a hat-trick and Cristiano Ronaldo netted twice. Coach Rafael Benitez will be hoping for a similar performance against Real Sociedad – who are winless in three matches in all competitions. La Real have lost three of their last four matches on the road and drew 1-1 with Getafe last time out. Los Blancos have won two on the spin at the Santiago Bernabeu, beating Getafe 4-1 and Rayo Vallecano 10-2. Real Madrid are tipped to Win By Three or More Goals at 15/20. 

52/10 Rayo Vallecano | 28/10 | Atletico Madrid 5/10 (19:15)

Rayo Vallecano were on the receiving end of a ruthless thrashing by a rampant Real Madrid. Coach Paco Jemez claimed his side felt "humiliated" and "abused" after their 10-2 loss to Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu last Sunday. That was their fourth straight defeat in all competitions and Los Franjirrojos will face another daunting test against Atletico Madrid. Rojiblancos missed the chance to move to the top of the La Liga table for Christmas, as they fell 1-0 to Malaga at La Rosaleda. Coach Diego Simeone will be hoping for a positive response from his players. Atleti are unbeaten in their last four meetings against Rayo Vallecano with three wins. Rojiblancos are tipped to oust their opponents and pile further misery on Jemez. 

4/10 Sevilla | 36/10 | Espanyol 57/10 (19:15)

Sevilla played out to a goalless draw away to Real Betis last time out and Unai Emery’s side will be looking to return to winning ways. Sevillistas are unbeaten in seven matches in all competitions with five victories. They’ve won their last six home games including notable wins over Barcelona, Real Madrid and Valencia. Espanyol, on the other hand, have been dreadful away from home with four straight losses. They come into the match with two wins on the bounce in all competitions, but their dismal record against Sevilla does not bode well for their chances. Los Rojiblancos are unbeaten in their last nine league encounters with Espanyol having won six times. The home win is a banker bet at 4/10. 

8/10 Eibar | 23/10 | Sporting Gijon 34/10 (19:30)

Eibar’s 2-0 loss away to Deportivo La Coruna sees them winless in five matches in La Liga. Three of those games have ended in defeat and coach Jose Luis Mendilibar will be desperate to return to form. Eibar have looked better at home and will be hopeful of a turnaround when they tackle fellow strugglers Sporting Gijon. The newly-promoted club are one point above the relegation zone with four losses in their last five matches. They’ve lost five of their last six games away from home with four straight defeats. The home win is the way to go at 8/10. 

1/25 Barcelona | 10/1 | Real Betis 31/1 (21:30)

Barcelona clinched the Fifa Club World Cup for a third time with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over River Plate last time out. A goal from Lionel Messi and a double from Luis Suarez helped secure the club’s fifth trophy of 2015. Only a Spanish Super Cup defeat by Athletic Bilbao denied them the chance to match the 2009 sextuple under Pep Guardiola. They are top of La Liga – with a game in hand – and in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey and Champions League as they bid to do it all again in 2016. The Catalans will return to the Camp Nou where they are unbeaten this season with seven wins from eight games. Real Betis are coming off a goalless draw at home to Sevilla and their last away match ended in a 1-0 defeat to relegation-threatened Las Palmas. Take Barca to Score In Both Halves at 3/10. 

13/10 Celta Vigo | 9/4 | Athletic Bilbao 19/10 (21:30)

The matchup between Celta Vigo and Athletic Bilbao promises to be an entertaining encounter. Celta held on to fourth spot in the Primera Division with a 2-0 victory over struggling Granada. Fabian Orellana and Iago Aspas each scored to secure the points and keep them a point ahead of Villarreal. Eduardo Berizzo’s side are unbeaten in six matches in all competitions with five wins including three on the spin. Athletic Bilbao come off a 2-0 win over Levante – their third straight victory. Like Celta, The Lions are unbeaten in six matches in all competitions with five victories. Both teams thrive on free-flowing attacking football which could see defences open and exposed. There should be chances galore at either end and their respective frontlines should take the opportunities with open arms, making Both Teams To Score a solid bet at 7/10.

14/10 Getafe | 2/1 | Deportivo La Coruna 19/10 (21:30)

Getafe earned a commendable 2-2 draw away to Valencia last time out – denying Gary Neville his first league win as Valencia boss. Getafe are undefeated in three matches including a 3-1 victory over Rayo Vallecano in the Copa del Rey. Azulones are also unbeaten in their last three home matches in La Liga with one win against Villarreal. Deportivo La Coruna are unbeaten in nine matches in all competitions with four wins. Their last outing ended in a 2-0 victory over Eibar and coach Victor Sanchez will be looking to build that performance. Deportivo’s last away match saw them earn a 2-2 draw against Barcelona – the first team to take points off the Catalans at home. It should be a tight affair, with the teams tipped to cancel each other out.

21/20 Las Palmas | 21/10 | Granada 26/10 (22:00)

Las Palmas take on fellow strugglers Granada in a crucial relegation six-pointer. Las Palmas suffered a 1-0 defeat away to Espanyol last time out – their ninth defeat of the season. They have looked better at home with three wins from five matches in all competitions, with just one defeat against Deportivo. Their opponents Granada are a point above in 18th place and come off a 2-0 defeat to Celta Vigo. The Nazaries have won just twice on the road this season from eight matches. I’m leaning toward a draw, but Both Teams Not To Score is a safer option at 15/20. 

Thursday 31 December 

7/10 Villarreal | 5/2 | Valencia 38/10 (17:00)

Villarreal ran out 2-0 victors against Real Sociedad thanks to a brace from Denis Suarez last time out. The Yellow Submarine will return to their home stadium in a rich vein of form. Marcelino’s side are unbeaten in seven home matches in all competitions with six victories including notable wins over Sevilla and Real Madrid. Valencia are coming off a disappointing 2-2 draw at home to Getafe with coach Gary Neville still searching for his first league win at the helm. Los Che have won just once in their last six away games with four defeats. Neville will be hoping for big-game performances from the likes of Paco Alcacer, Alvaro Negredo, Pablo Piatti and Dani Parejo. Villarreal are the favourites here, but Both Teams To Score at even money is a safer option with more value.  

La Liga Picks
Malaga WIN 18/10
Atletico WIN 5/10
Sevilla WIN 4/10
Eibar WIN 8/10
Celta Vigo BTTS 7/10
Getafe DRAW 2/1
Las Palmas BTTS (NO) 15/20
Villarreal BTTS 1/1

Written by Chadley Nagel