Spanish La Liga: Gameweek 18 Preview

The Spanish La Liga returns after the Christmas break with Real Madrid crowned as world champions for the fourth time. Barcelona’s 2-0 win over Celta Vigo ensured the Catalans begin the new year at the summit. Atletico Madrid overtook Sevilla, who were held to a 1-1 draw at Leganes – Diego Simeone’s men are now second on the log, three points behind leaders Barcelona. Can winning the Club World Cup be the confidence boost Real Madrid need? Is the title race over? Let’s find out what we have in store for gameweek 18:

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Friday 4 January

Levante 14/10
Draw 28/10
Girona 18/10
(20:00)

We kickoff 2019 with a low-key affair as Levante host Girona at the Ciutat de Valencia. The hosts didn’t enjoy their winter holidays to the max after losing back-to-back matches to Barcelona and league strugglers Rayo Vallecano. Levante have won once from their last seven league games, but this is a winnable fixture for them. The Frogs will need to step up and find the attacking form if they actually want to grab three points here. Just like the hosts, Girona needed the break as they are riding on a four-match winless run, scoring two goals in the process. It’s hard to back either team based on current form, therefore take Both Teams to Score at 6/10.

Espanyol 9/10
Draw 9/4
Leganes 34/10
(22:00)

Espanyol and Leganes will come into the new year in completely opposite moods. The hosts made a bright start to the La Liga campaign, but went on to lose six in a row to drop down to 14th on the league ladder as a consequence. On the other hand, Leganes are unbeaten in their last six matches in all competitions, including three consecutive draws. This match is written draw all over it, back the stalemate at 9/4.

Saturday 5 January

Real Valladolid 21/20
Draw 47/20
Rayo Vallecano 26/10
(14:00)

Valladolid fell out of the top half of the standings after a draw with Athletic Bilbao and a defeat to Atletico Madrid. The league newcomers will be hoping for their sixth win of the season on Saturday when they host last season’s Segunda Division rivals Rayo Vallecano in the first game of the day at Estadio Municipal Jose Zorrilla. Sergio Gonzalez looks to have finally found the wanted rhythm, especially when it comes to Valladolid’s defensive displays, conceding just 19 goals so far which is the same as Barcelona. Back the hosts at a valuable 21/20.

Deportivo Alaves 22/10
Draw 2/1
Valencia 14/10
(17:15)

Alaves dropped down to fifth on the standings after clinching just one win in their past five league matches. They also suffered an early Copa del Rey elimination to Girona (3-4 on aggregate) meaning we have reasons to talk about a crisis at Mendizorroza. Valencia finished the year in victorious fashion when they beat Huesca 2-1 at home to move to eighth on the standings. Marcelino’s men have endured quite a roller-coaster campaign so far in the season, which is largely down to the high number of draws as the Bats drew as many as 10 of 17 league games. Back these sides to cancel each other out.

Huesca 47/20
Draw 24/10
Real Betis 23/20
(21:45)

Real Betis will be hoping to stretch their seven-match unbeaten run as they take on rock-bottom Huesca on Saturday evening away at El Alcoraz. Los Beticos are in fine form and should be too good for a team like Huesca regardless of the venue. I can’t believe the betting here and I suggest including the 23/20 in all bet multiples.

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Sunday 6 January

Eibar 5/4
Draw 24/10
Villarreal 21/20
(13:00)

Bottom half of the table neighbours Eibar and Villarreal are to battle it out in the first game of the day on Sunday afternoon at Ipurua. The hosts are comfortably placed in midtable, while Villarreal are trying to get out of the relegation zone. It’s been an underwhelming campaign for the Yellow Submarine as they seem to be paying the price for a tough Europa League schedule as they just can’t seem to find the right rhythm in the domestic league. Eibar have been decent at the Ipurua, winning four and drawing three of their nine matches. Back the hosts to start the year on a high.

Sevilla 7/4
Draw 2/1
Atletico Madrid 17/10
(17:15)

Atletico Madrid overtook Sevilla and climbed up to second in the league standings after a streak of 13 matches unbeaten in all competitions. Atleti have been rock-solid in defence, conceding only 12 goals. On the other hand, Los Rojiblancos have been deadly in the final third, bagging as many as 30 goals which is the second highest in the league. Sevilla have lost only one game at home, winning six and drawing the other, whilst Atletico Madrid have won twice on the road. This is a fixture Barcelona will be watching and the Blaugrana will be hoping it ends in a draw. I’ll hand Barcelona their wishes and say this match will end in a stalemate.

Real Madrid 3/10
Draw 9/2
Real Sociedad 7/1
(19:30)

Real Madrid lifted the Club World Cup for a record fourth time after thrashing local side Al Ain 4-1 in the final in Abu Dhabi. Los Blancos will have a nice opportunity to keep ground on the likes of Barcelona at the top of the standings when they host strugglers Real Sociedad at Santiago Bernabeu. The boys in white have won five of their six league matches under Santiago Solari. With the Club World Cup adding some confidence to this Real Madrid team, only one result can be expected when they face such teams at home. Back the world champions at 3/10.

Getafe 13/2
Draw 17/4
Barcelona 7/20
(21:45)

Barcelona have allowed Atletico Madrid to close the gap between the top two sides in La Liga to three points and a potential slip up at Getafe could ring the alarm bells for the Catalans. Ernesto Valverde’s men ensured they finish the year at the top of the table with a comfortable victory against Celta Vigo. Getafe are no pushovers and the hosts are in fine form, riding a six-match unbeaten run. This is a tricky encounter and don’t complicate things, just take the 7/20 odds on the away win.

TREBLE @ 6/1
Real Betis Win 23/20
Real Valladolid Win 21/20
Levante vs Girona BTTS 6/10

Written by Banele Pikwa