Spanish La Liga Preview

The Spanish La Liga returns with some cracking fixtures lined up with none bigger than the El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid. This is a very important week for Luis Enrique’s side as they face Atletico Madrid in the quarter-final of the Champions League three days later. Barca look destined to win La Liga for the second successive season, but Zinedine Zidane will be desperate for a win in his first Clasico as the Real Madrid manager. After the Clasico, Celta Vigo and Deportivo La Coruna will do battle in the Galician derby, while there are two relegation six-pointers to play for the basement dwellers. There are other exciting matches in La Liga this weekend with lots of money to make.

Friday 1 April

17/20 Rayo Vallecano | Draw 26/10 | Getafe 31/10 (20:30)

We get things started on Friday night with relegation candidates Rayo Vallecano and Getafe tangling for their top-flight lives. With eight games left to save themselves from the drop and a six-pointer in front of them, both teams will be desperate to take maximum points. Rayo Vallecano are winless in seven matches, but have scored in all of those games. They come off back-to-back draws against Eibar and Granada. Getafe, on the other hand, have lost their last five away games, shipping 19 goals. Rayo Vallecano are tipped to capitalize on home advantage. 

Saturday 2 April

4/10 Atletico Madrid | 7/2 | Real Betis 72/10 (16:00)

Atletico Madrid's title charge took a big blow due to their 2-1 defeat by Sporting Gijon before the international break. The result brought an end to their nine-game unbeaten run in all competitions and left Atletico second in La Liga, nine points adrift of league leaders Barcelona but just one point clear of city rivals Real Madrid with eight games remaining. The Rojiblancos will face an out-of-form Betis side who come off back-to-back losses against Athletic Bilbao and Malaga. They’ve won just once in their last eight away games, suffering five defeats. Diego Simeone’s side will be hoping for a morale-boosting victory before they face Barcelona in the Champions League in midweek. Back Atleti to bounce back strongly.

29/20 Las Palmas | 9/4 | Valencia 19/10 (18:15)

Las Palmas have won four of their last five matches, with the exception of the 2-1 defeat against Real Madrid on gameweek 29. In those games, they’ve scored eight goals and only conceded against Los Blancos as they kept four clean sheets. Quique Setien’s side will be hoping to continue their impressive form and pile more misery on under-fire Valencia boss Gary Neville. Valencia currently lie in 14th place in the Spanish top tier and are six points above safety after losing their last three league games. Neville has helped the side to three league wins out of 16 since joining the club. Las Palmas are tipped to oust their opponents.

6/10 Barcelona | 7/2 | Real Madrid 7/2 (20:30)

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7/10 Celta Vigo | 28/10 | Dep. La Coruna 39/10 (22:05)

Celta Vigo and Deportivo La Coruna lock horns in the Galician derby in Saturday's late kick-off. Celta come into the match with two wins on the bounce against Real Sociedad and Valencia. Eduardo Berizzo’s side are unbeaten in their last five home matches in La Liga with three wins. Deportivo ended their 13-game winless run in La Liga and claimed their first win of 2016 over bottom-side Levante last time out. Depor looked to be heading for another disappointment after Levante’s Giuseppe Rossi cancelled out Luis Alberto's opener. However, a late own goal from Diego Marino handed Deportivo a much-needed victory. Celta Vigo are tipped to claim bragging rights at 7/10.

Sunday 3 April

5/10 Athletic Bilbao | 31/10 | Granada 11/2 (12:00)

Athletic Bilbao’s four-game winning streak came to an end as they lost 2-1 to Espanyol last time out. Ernesto Valverde’s side will welcome the return to San Mames stadium where they’ve won back-to-back games against Deportivo and Real Betis. Bilbao will rely on in-form striker Aritz Aduriz to add to his 17-goal tally. Strugglers Granada are winless in three matches and have lost six of their last seven away games. Bilbao are tipped to win comfortably.

17/20 Malaga | 5/2 | Espanyol 34/10 (16:00)

Malaga will be looking to end their hoodoo against Espanyol on Sunday afternoon. Javi Gracia’s side have failed to beat the Catalonia club in seven attempts with Espanyol victorious on four occasions. Malaga are unbeaten in three matches with successive wins over Sporting Gijon and Real Betis. Espanyol are also on a three-game unbeaten streak, but their away form is a huge concern for Constantin Galca. The Catalans have lost nine of their last 11 matches on the road and Malaga are tipped to capitalize on home advantage.

18/10 Eibar | 2/1 | Villarreal 31/20 (18:15)

Strugglers Eibar are winless in six matches with four defeats, including consecutive draws against Rayo Vallecano and Getafe. Although the Basque side have improved heavily from last season’s relegation scramble to be in the top half of the table, Jose Mendilibar will expect better from his players after they showed their genuine quality in the first half of the season. Another tough test awaits against Villarreal who are chasing the final Champions League qualification spot. The Yellow Submarine have struggled to find their rhythm in recent weeks having gone the full month without victory. Marcelino will be hoping his players used the international break to recharge their batteries. These sides drew the reverse tie 1-1 and I’m tipping another draw at 2/1. 

13/20 Sevilla | 3/1 | Real Sociedad 4/1 (20:30)

Sevilla will be looking to recover from their 4-0 thrashing by Real Madrid last time out. Unai Emery’s men will be happy to be back at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan where they remain unbeaten this season with a remarkable 13-game winning streak. Their opponents, Real Sociedad, will face an uphill battle of stopping Sevilla in their tracks. Eusebio Sacristan’s side are winless in five matches with three defeats, including two in a row. The Europa League champions have won their last two home meetings with Sociedad and are tipped to secure maximum points.

Monday 4 April

11/10 Levante | 23/10 | Sporting Gijon 26/10 (20:30)

Levante and Sporting Gijon, two of the worst teams in La Liga, will face off on Monday night in another six-pointer of gameweek 31. Rock-bottom Levante have improved in recent weeks and have shown the ability to avoid the drop, but they need to win as much games as possible from their remaining eight. Rubi’s side have won four of their last six home matches with two defeats against La Liga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid. Fellow strugglers Sporting Gijon recorded a 2-1 upset victory over Atletico Madrid last time out, their first win in nine games. That result will give Abelardo Fernandez optimism that his team have what it takes to survive the drop, however, they need to play out of their skin in the final stretch of the campaign. Levante won the reverse tie 3-0 and I’m tipping them to secure a vital victory.

La Liga Picks
Rayo Vallecano WIN 17/20
Atletico Madrid WIN 4/10
Las Palmas WIN 29/20
Barcelona WIN + BTTS 14/10
Celta Vigo WIN 7/10
Athletic Bilbao WIN 5/10
Malaga WIN 17/20
Eibar DRAW 2/1
Sevilla WIN 13/20
Levante WIN 11/10

Written by Chadley Nagel