Spanish La Liga Preview

Gameweek 30 of the Spanish La Liga sees Barcelona at the summit of the table with an eight-point lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid. The title is Barcelona's to lose, and the odds reflect that. Unless the Catalans suffer a meltdown for the ages, Atletico will find it impossible to bridge the large gap in the standings, even if they do keep winning. Real Madrid on the other hand are out of the running and at best can fight for second place. On Saturday, Atletico Madrid will be expected to win easily away to bottom-placed Sporting Gijon who are on a four-game losing streak. Fourth-placed Villarreal will face a daunting test as they host free-scoring Barcelona on Sunday, while Real Madrid do battle with Sevilla in the biggest tie of the round. Zinedine Zidane’s side will be favourites at home against Sevilla, but the UEFA Europa League titleholders have looked very solid of late and will fancy their chances at the Bernabeu. 

Friday 18 March

13/10 Getafe | Draw 22/10 | Eibar 21/10 (21:30)

Getafe suffered a 6-0 thrashing by a rampant Barcelona side last Saturday, their 16th defeat of the season. They’ve lost eight of their last nine matches, scoring three goals and conceding 22 times. Their opponents, Eibar, have struggled to maintain their early season heroics having lost four of their previous five games following a 1-1 draw away to Rayo Vallecano last time out. The Basque side won the reverse tie 3-1 at the Ipurua, but haven’t won away from home since the beginning of the year. The draw is tipped at 22/10.

Saturday 19 March

82/10 Sporting Gijon | 33/10 | Atletico Madrid 4/10 (17:00)

Bottom-placed Sporting Gijon suffered their 17th defeat of the season away to Malaga last Friday, courtesy of Juanpi's sole strike. Abelardo Fernandez’s side are winless in eight matches with five losses, including four on the trot. They host in-form Atletico Madrid on Saturday with Diego Simeone’s side looking to maintain their faint hopes of catching Barcelona. Atletico, second in La Liga, recorded a comfortable 3-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna last Saturday thanks to goals from midfielder Saul Niguez, top scorer Antoine Griezmann and Argentinian forward Angel Correa. That was their fourth straight victory and 27th clean sheet of the season in all competitions. Atleti are a banker bet at 4/10, but if you’re looking for more value you can back them to Win-To-Nil at 11/10.

21/20 Granada | 5/2 | Rayo Vallecano 5/2 (19:15)

Granada will host fellow relegation candidates, Rayo Vallecano, in a potential six-pointer. Despite being down to 10 men for the most part, Granada managed a 1-1 draw against Espanyol in La Liga. The result saw Granada climb out of the relegation zone and Jose Gonzalez will be targeting maximum points against Rayo Vallecano. Granada are unbeaten in their last two home games with a 2-0 win over Sporting Gijon in the beginning of the month. Rayo Vallecano are winless in six matches following their 1-1 draw at home to Eibar last Saturday. They’ve won just once from 14 matches on the road, suffering eight defeats. However, Vallecano have won their last four meetings with Granada, scoring nine goals while conceding twice. Vallecano are tipped on the Win/Draw Double at 7/10. 

6/10 Real Sociedad | 31/10 | Las Palmas 9/2 (19:15)

Real Sociedad went the entire month of February unscathed with three wins from four games, scoring 10 goals while conceding just once. Things have changed in March with Eusebio Sacristan’s side yet to win a match while losing to Atletico Madrid and Celta Vigo. However, La Real remain unbeaten at the Anoeta Stadium in 2016, winning three from six games played. After struggling in the relegation zone for much of the season, Las Palmas are finally producing the goods. Los Amarillos were heading for a 1-1 draw against Real Madrid, but Casemiro scored a dramatic 89th minute winner to hand Zinedine Zidane’s side maximum points. Prior to that loss, Las Palmas had won three on the spin against Eibar, Getafe and Villarreal. I’m backing Both Teams To Score at 8/10. 

17/20 Deportivo La Coruna | 5/2 | Levante 33/10 (21:30)

Deportivo's winless La Liga run was extended to 13 games after losing 3-0 to Atletico Madrid last Saturday. They’ve lost four of their last five matches, shipping 12 goals in that run. Giuseppe Rossi scored the only goal of the game as Levante won their local derby with Valencia 1-0 last Sunday. Three points weren’t enough to move Levante off the bottom of the table, although they are now within touching distance of safety with nine games to run in La Liga. Coach Rubi will be targeting back-to-back wins for the first time this season. However, their away form does not bode well for their chances. They’ve lost six of their previous seven away games. Despite their struggles on the road, Deportivo don’t give me much confidence. Under 2.5 Goals is tipped at 13/20. 

31/20 Real Betis | 22/10 | Malaga 18/10 (23:05)

Real Betis’ six-game unbeaten run ended with a 3-1 defeat away to Athletic Bilbao last Sunday. Prior to that loss, Betis won back-to-back games against Espanyol and Granada. Juan Merino will be hoping for an improved performance from his players. Malaga beat Sporting Gijon 1-0 to claim their first La Liga win in over a month, thanks to Juanpi's superb 25-yard strike. Javi Gracia’s side will be hoping to build on that result, but they’ve managed to win just three of their 15 travels. Real Betis won the reverse tie 1-0 and are tipped to oust their opponents at 31/20.

Sunday 20 March

24/10 Espanyol | 23/10 | Athletic Bilbao 11/10 (13:00)

Espanyol had to settle for just a point after failing to beat 10-man Granada on Monday. Constantin Galca will be hoping for a much better performance from his players, and they’ll need to be if they are to take anything from this match. Their opponents, Athletic Bilbao, are in a rich vein of form – unbeaten in six matches with five wins on the spin in all competitions. In that run, they’ve scored 14 goals while conceding just twice. Three of those games have come away from home with the Lions keeping clean sheets in each of those games. Bilbao won the reverse fixture 2-1 and are tipped to extend their superb run of form. Back the away win at 11/10.

92/10 Villarreal | 47/10 | Barcelona 1/4 (17:00)

Villarreal are struggling to find their rhythm at the worst possible time with Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao pushing for a place in the top four. The Yellow Submarine have won just once in their last five La Liga matches – against 19th-placed Levante – with consecutive losses against Las Palmas and Sevilla. Barcelona pressed home their advantage at the top of La Liga with a 6-0 thrashing of Getafe last Saturday, their 12th straight league win. Barcelona have now gone 37 games unbeaten in all competitions. The Catalans are tipped to annihilate their opponents from start to finish. Take them on the Half-time/Full-time Win at 7/10. 

5/4 Valencia | 24/10 | Celta Vigo 21/10 (19:15)

Gary Neville's miserable run in charge of Valencia continued as a second-half goal by former Manchester United teammate Giuseppe Rossi condemned his side to a 1-0 defeat at local rivals Levante. Valencia suffered a third consecutive defeat in all competitions and missed out on the chance to move into the top half of the table. Iago Aspas' early goal ensured Celta Vigo took all three points against Real Sociedad, boosting the Galicians hopes of qualifying for the Europa League. 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 the Both Teams To Score market a solid bet at 7/10. 

4/10 Real Madrid | 42/10 | Sevilla 11/2 (21:30)

Casemiro scored in the 89th-minute to earn Real Madrid a 2-1 win at Las Palmas last Sunday, keeping his team on course for an automatic spot in next season's Champions League. It was Madrid's third league win in a row, leaving them 10 points in front of fourth-place Villarreal. Zidane’s side have won 12 of their 15 home matches, scoring 56 goals while conceding 14 times. Their opponents, Sevilla, beat Villarreal 4-2 to stay in the fight for a Champions League spot. Sevilla has won every match at home since a 2-1 loss to Celta Vigo in the league's third round. Barcelona and Real Madrid are among the teams they defeated at the Sanchez-Pizjuan. Surprisingly, Unai Emery’s side are yet to win on the road this season. They’ve drawn nine and lost five from 14 matches. I’m going for Real Madrid to Win + Both Teams To Score at 11/10. 

La Liga Picks
Getafe DRAW 22/10
Atl. Madrid WIN-TO-NIL 11/10
Rayo Vallecano WIN/DRAW 7/10
Real Sociedad BTTS 8/10
Deportivo UNDER 2.5 GOALS 13/20
Real Betis WIN 31/20
Athletic Bilbao WIN 11/10
Barcelona WIN HT-FT 7/10
Valencia BTTS 7/10
Real Madrid WIN + BTTS 11/10

Written by Chadley Nagel