Spanish La Liga Preview

The Spanish La Liga has a familiar look to it with Barcelona three points clear at the summit of the table with their catch-up game away to Sporting Gijon on Wednesday. The La Liga champions will host relegation-threatened Las Palmas on Saturday with one eye on their Champions League clash with Arsenal on 23 February. On Sunday, Real Madrid will face a stern test away to Malaga, while Atletico Madrid welcome in-form Villarreal to the Vicente Calderon Stadium. Gary Neville, fresh off his first league win in charge of Valencia, will be hopeful of consecutive victories away to strugglers Granada. It should be a thrilling weekend of dazzling football in La Liga and I’m feeling confident about these picks. 

Friday 19 February

27/20 Levante | Draw 21/10 | Getafe 21/10 (21:30)

Rock-bottom Levante suffered a 2-0 loss away to Eibar last Sunday, their 15th defeat of the season. Rubi’s side have lost three games in a row and will be under pressure to motivate his team for Getafe. Fran Escriba’s side lost 1-0 at home to Atletico Madrid, courtesy of an early goal by Fernando Torres. That was Getafe’s fourth straight loss which saw them drop to 13th on the table. With both teams struggling for form, I’m backing a draw at 21/10. 

Saturday 20 February

15/1 Las Palmas | 67/10 | Barcelona 3/20 (17:00)

Las Palmas’ 2-0 defeat away to Sevilla last Sunday was their fourth loss in five matches in all competitions. The relegation-threatened club will host free-scoring Barcelona on Saturday in what will be a daunting test for Quique Setien’s side. Barca extended their club-record unbeaten run to 30 matches with a 6-1 demolition of Celta Vigo, thanks to an extraordinary Luis Suarez hat-trick, plus goals from Lionel Messi, Neymar and Ivan Rakitic. The La Liga champions are overwhelming favourites at 3/20, so take them to Win Both Halves at 19/20. 

15/10 Espanyol | 2/1 | Deportivo La Coruna 19/10 (19:15)

Espanyol suffered a 2-1 defeat away to Valencia, handing Gary Neville his first La Liga win since taking charge. Constantin Galca’s side remain winless in 10 matches in all competitions, losing eight times, including three in a row. Deportivo are coming off a 2-2 draw at home to Real Betis, drawing their fifth straight match. The Galicians will be hoping to claim maximum points here, but are safer taking on the Win/Draw Double Chance at 5/10. 

19/20 Real Betis | 24/10 | Sporting Gijon 29/10 (21:30)

Real Betis played to a 2-2 away to Deportivo last weekend, thanks to goals from Charly Musonda and Juan Manuel Vargas. Juan Merino has steadied the ship after Pepe Mel's chaotic tenure. Merino is doing a tremendous job in helping the players to recover their confidence, motivating them further so that they may fulfil their potential. Musonda and Martin Montoya have made instant impacts, while the arrival of Leandro Damiao has boosted the attack. However, Gijon remain unbeaten in four games with two wins. Both Teams To Score is tipped at 19/20.

1/1 Celta Vigo | 23/10 | Eibar 28/10 (23:05)

Celta Vigo suffered a 6-1 loss at the hands of Barcelona last Sunday, their biggest defeat of the season. Eduardo Berizzo’s side are winless in four matches, losing three times. However, Celta Vigo have looked better at home and will hope to recover from last weekend’s heavy defeat. Their opponents, Eibar, ended a three-game losing streak to beat Levante 2-0 and move to within four points of Sevilla in fifth place. The Basques will be hoping to build on that result and will look to their lethal duo of Sergi Enrich and Borja Baston. Both Teams To Score is the way to go at 17/20. 

Sunday 21 February

21/10 Rayo Vallecano | 5/2 | Sevilla 12/10 (13:00)

Rayo Vallecano extended their unbeaten run to five games following last Friday’s 2-2 draw away to Gijon. Three of those matches have ended in draws; however, both victories were at home. Sevilla stretched their unbeaten run to 12 matches with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Las Palmas at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium. Of those 12 games, Unai Emery's team have won nine times. With French striker Kevin Gameiro in goalscoring form, Yevhen Konoplyanka and Jose Antonio Reyes running riot on the wings, Sevilla should oust their opponents here at 12/10. 

4/1 Malaga | 32/10 | Real Madrid 6/10 (17:00)

Malaga’s three-game winning streak came to an end as they went down 1-0 at Villarreal last weekend. Javi Gracia would have been disappointed his team couldn’t maintain their good form leading to this weekend’s clash with Real Madrid. Zinedine Zidane’s side recorded a 4-2 victory at home to Athletic Bilbao, thanks to a brace from Cristiano Ronaldo and a goal apiece from James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos. Under Zidane, Los Blancos are unbeaten in five matches with four wins, scoring 20 goals. Ronaldo is in top form having netted 21 league goals for the season and 32 in all competitions. Back Real Madrid at 6/10. 

15/20 Athletic Bilbao | 26/10 | Real Sociedad 36/10 (19:15)

Athletic Bilbao are winless in two games following their 4-2 defeat at Real Madrid last weekend. Ernesto Valverde will be hoping for a positive response from his players. The Lions will welcome the return to San Mam├ęs where they remain unbeaten in eight La Liga matches. Of those games, Bilbao have won five times and Valverde will be hoping to return to winning ways. However, it won’t be easy against in-form Real Sociedad on Sunday. Eusebio Sacristan’s side come into the match with three wins on the spin, scoring 10 goals and conceding just once. However, Sociedad have lost five of their last eight away games, winning just once. Athletic Bilbao to Win + Both Teams To Score is tipped at 26/10. 

18/10 Granada | 2/1 | Valencia 16/10 (19:15)

Granada have lost seven of their last eight games with three defeats in a row, following their 3-0 loss at Real Sociedad last Sunday. They have the worst defence in the league, along with Rayo Vallecano, having conceded 49 goals. Jose Ramon Sandoval’s side have won two of their last three home games, beating Sevilla 2-1 and Getafe 3-1. Gary Neville is hopeful his first win in 10 La Liga games in charge of Valencia will be the confidence boost his young side needed to turn their season around. Los Che came from behind to beat Espanyol 2-1 last weekend thanks to goals in the final 20 minutes from Alvaro Negredo and Denis Cheryshev to ease Valencia's fears of being dragged into a relegation battle and the pressure on Neville's job. Although Granada have been dreadful, it still wouldn’t be wise to back Valencia on a straight win. Take them on the Double Chance at 4/10. 

5/10 Atletico Madrid | 29/10 | Villarreal 6/1 (21:30)

Atletico Madrid recorded a 1-0 victory over Getafe last Sunday, thanks to an early goal from Fernando Torres. With Juanfran, Diego Godin and Filipe Luis back to partner Jose Maria Gimenez, the Atletico defence was its usually composed, tough self. The shutout meant they have allowed just 11 goals in 24 La Liga matches, six fewer than Barcelona and seven less than Villarreal, which has the third-best defensive record in the league. However, the sight of Belgian winger Yannick Carrasco going down injured in the second half and having to leave the field comes as huge blow to Diego Simeone. Carrasco's loss will impact Atletico considerably in both halves of the pitch and will further increase the immense reliance on Antoine Griezmann from the team as they look to remain in the title race. Villarreal stretched their lead over Sevilla in fourth to 11 points thanks to Roberto Soldado's solitary goal in a 1-0 win over Malaga. The Yellow Submarine are unbeaten in five matches with two wins. However, they’re winless in three away games, including a 3-2 defeat against Bilbao in the Copa del Rey. Back Atleti at 5/10 

La Liga Picks
Levante DRAW 21/10
Barcelona WIN BOTH HALVES 19/20
Deportivo WIN/DRAW 5/10
Real Betis BTTS 19/20
Celta Vigo BTTS 17/20
Sevilla WIN 12/10
Real Madrid WIN 6/10
Athletic Bilbao WIN + BTTS 26/10
Valencia WIN/DRAW 4/10
Atletico Madrid WIN 5/10

Written by Chadley Nagel