PREVIEW: La Liga: Game Week 23

Barcelona boss, Xavi, has announced that he will step down at the end of the season. The decision comes after a 5-3 drubbing by Villarreal which left Barca 10 points behind then log leaders, Real Madrid. The forty-four-year-old tactician went on to add, “The feeling of being Barca coach is unpleasant, it’s cruel. You feel that often there is a lack of respect, you feel they do not value your work, and this wears you down terribly.”. Similarly, Sevilla is experiencing a torrid time. After three consecutive seasons in the UEFA Champions League, the club have plummeted to the bottom half of the log and are firmly in a relegation battle. All that and more in this weekend’s preview!

Friday 02 February

5/10 Athletic Club | Draw 29/10 | Mallorca 56/10 (22:00) 

Athletic Club return to the San Mames, after back-to-back away league outings. Los Leones fell to Valencia 1 nil, before managing a point against Cadiz in their goalless draw, last time out. Indeed, those performances came on either side of their Copa del Rey quarter final showdown with Barcelona, wherein they dispatched the troubled outfit 4-2. It goes without saying, that result came on home soil. 

With the backing of the Ultras, I’m sure it’ll be all systems go. Back Athletic club on the win and over 3.5 goals at 42/10.

Saturday 03 February

13/20 Valencia | Draw 28/10 | Almeria 4/1 (15:00)

Valencia will look to put their 2-nil defeat against Atletico Madrid behind them, when they take on an Almeria outfit still searching for their first league win of the season. Rojiblancos are rooted to the foot of the table and despite strong performances in recent fixtures, I expect the three points to stay with the home side.

I think Valencia will claim maximum points, but for added value, go with BTTS (yes) at 28/10.

13/10 Granada | Draw 43/20 | Las Palmas 22/10 (17:15)

Last time out, Las Palmas nearly pulled a rabbit out of the hat! Incredibly, Los Amarillos struck shortly after the half time whistle through Javier Munoz to open the scoring. For the second time in a week, Ancelotti’s men had to battle back to secure the victory. With Garcia Pimienta showing that his outfit are no pushovers, I expect them to give a good account of themselves against Granada.

Back Las Palmas on the win, with BTTS (yes) at 13/2.

4/1 Alaves | Draw 28/10 | Barcelona 13/20 (19:30)

With just a single clean sheet in their previous thirteen fixtures, across all competitions, things have not gone Xavi’s way this season. With such a leaky defence, defending their La Liga crown was always going to be a tall order. Having announced he will leave the Blaugrana at the end of the season, I expect an improved performance in this one. 

Back a Barca win and over 2.5 goals at 7/2.

21/20 Girona | Draw 49/20 | Real Sociedad 47/20 (22:00)

Girona’s Portu finished within twenty minutes against Celta Vigo, to set his team on their way back to top spot. Whilst that was the only goal of the game, it was Paulo Gazzaniga’s heroics that ensured it stayed that way. The ex-Tottenham shot stopper denied their hosts on several occasions to secure victory for Girona. With such strong performances at both ends of the pitch, I think we all know which way this one’s going to go!

Back Girona on the double chance and over 2.5 goals at 7/4.

Sunday 04 February

13/20 Villarreal | Draw 28/10 | Cadiz 4/1 (15:00)

Villarreal stole the headlines last week – dispatching defending La Liga champions, Barcelona, by five goals to three. The emphatic performance left Xavi shell shocked, who confirmed that this season will be his last at the helm of the club. Looking ahead to this weekend, I am certain Mearcelino will build on that result.

Back Villarreal on the win and over 2.5 goals at 31/20.

13/10 Osasuna | Draw 21/10 | Celta Vigo 9/4 (17:15)

Another defeat for Celta means that Rafa Bentez’s men come into this round of action just a single point above the relegation zone. It has been anything but smooth sailing for the former Real Madrid boss, who has seen defeat in 50% of his league outings this season. With just a single league defeat across their previous four away league fixtures, back Celta to come away with something in this one.

Back a goalless draw in this one at 6/1.

9/10 Real Betis | Draw 23/10 | Getafe 31/10 (19:30)

With two league defeats across their previous five league outings, Real Betis have loosened their grip on a European spot. With competition as fierce as ever, Manuel Pellegrini’s men need to capitalise on their home fixtures, as they look to juggle their domestic and continental calendars.

Back Real Betis on the win and over 3.5 goals at 6/1.

7/10 Real Madrid | Draw 29/10 | Atlético Madrid 34/10 (22:00)

See full featured game.

Monday 05 February

12/10 Rayo Vallecano | Draw 9/4 | Sevilla 23/10 (22:00)

Sevilla have gone from title challengers to relegation contenders in the space of 18 months. Los Nervionenses are currently just a point above the drop zone on the La Liga standings, but recent performances in the Copa del Rey tells me that there is more than meets the eye. Isaac Romero bagged a decisive brace in their Round of 16 tie against Getafe, before being dumped out of the cup by Atletico Madrid in the quarters.

Back Sevilla on the double chance and BTTS (yes) at 37/20.

Written by Desh Parthab.