Celta Vigo came through for me last weekend, humiliating champions Atletico Madrid 2-0 and putting a puncture in their title race. Elsewhere, Lionel Messi continued to impress in 2015 for Barcelona, while Cristiano Ronaldo struggled as Real Madrid were booed in their win at home. Real keep their place at the top of the table, just a point above Barcelona, while Atletico face an uphill battle to defend their title as they now lie seven points adrift of their neighbours.
Getafe and Espanyol get things started on Friday night. For all Getafe’s bad form, they have managed to win their last two home games against Celta Vigo and Sevilla. Their opponents will be looking to change those good results. Espanyol are coming off a great 2-0 victory away to Malaga that moved them into eighth spot. Espanyol won the reverse fixture 2-0 but looking at their away record doesn’t generate much confidence. They have won just two of their eleven travels, losing seven times. The draw looks the most probable outcome.
Lionel Messi scored his 23rd hat-trick on his 300th La Liga appearance for Barcelona who swept past Levante with a 5-0 whipping. The result meant Barca stay only a point behind leaders Real Madrid. Next up for Barca is a chance for revenge on a Malaga side who held them to a goalless draw in the first round. Malaga are in bad form, coming off a 4-1 away loss to Levante followed by a 2-0 home loss to Espanyol last weekend. The Catalans won this fixture 3-0 last season and are a sure bet to win here. There is no value in the home win so I’m going with the Highest Scoring Half to be the second-half at 19/20.
Bottom of the log Cordoba slumped to their fourth consecutive loss, losing 3-0 to Sevilla. They will host a Valencia side who are sitting pretty in fourth spot having won six of their last eight games. Valencia won the reverse fixture 3-0 and will be confident of pulling a double over the promoted side. Cordoba have won just once at home and the away win should be backed.
Atletico Madrid 2/9
Atletico Madrid’s hopes of a second straight La Liga crown were dashed on Sunday after a 2-0 defeat at Celta Vigo that defender Diego Godin blamed on the absence of midfielders Koke, Arda Turan and Raul Garcia. Atletico were a shadow of the side that beat leaders Real Madrid 4-0 two weeks back and barely threatened the Celta goal in a weak performance that left them seven points behind Real and six adrift of second-placed Barcelona. They will welcome back some key personnel this weekend and will return to the Vicente Calderon where they have won ten of their twelve home games, including that sensational win over their local rivals. Atletico should see off an Almeria team they beat 1-0 away from home in the first round.
Celta Vigo 13/10
Celta Vigo crushed defending champions Atletico Madrid 2-0 at home last weekend. They are in good form with two home wins and an away draw to Real Sociedad in their last three games. They travel to a Deportivo team whom they edged 2-1 in the reverse tie. Deportivo have been inconsistent at home winning four times and losing five of their eleven games on home turf. These sides have scored twenty and 23 goals respectively in their 23 matches. Celta Vigo are my pick but their away record doesn’t give me confidence, so I’m going with Under 2.5 goals at 11/20.
Real Sociedad 18/10
David Moyes is still seeking his first La Liga away win with Real Sociedad after watching his side twice come from behind to earn a point at Almeria. It was Sociedad’s second consecutive draw after being held to a 1-1 scoreline at home to Celta Vigo two weeks ago. Sociedad have been giant killers at home this season ousting Real Madrd, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona and will be looking to do the same when they host Sevilla this weekend. Sevilla snapped a two-game losing streak with a comfortable 3-0 derby win at home over struggling Cordoba last weekend. Sevilla have been inconsistent on the road winning five times and losing six. A tight encounter is expected so I’m tipping the Half-Time Draw at 21/20.
Athletic Bilbao 17/20
Rayo Vallecano 32/10
Athletic Bilbao’s inconsistency continued as they played out a goalless draw at Granada last weekend. Bilbao can once again blame their finishing after creating several chances once Granada were reduced to ten men. Rayo Vallecano ended a three-match losing run with a superb 2-0 home victory over Villarreal. Vallecano’s defence have let in forty goals, the third most in the league and with home advantage Bilbao should create many chances and hopefully put a few away to earn the much needed victory.
Villarreal failed to score for the first time in seventeen La Liga matches last weekend, going down 2-0 at Rayo Vallecano. They return home this weekend where they will be confident against La Liga debutants Eibar. The Yellow Submarines have been excellent at home this season, securing eight wins from eleven matches. Eibar’s downward spiral continues as they have now lost four matches in a row. They were beaten 1-0 at home by Elche last weekend and have now scored just one goal in four matches. The home win is a banker bet.
Real Madrid 1/5
Relegation candidates Elche couldn’t have hoped for better form when they host leaders Real Madrid. Elche are coming off two consecutive victories, however, they hosted Barcelona at the end of January and were thumped six-love. Real Madrid put their derby loss to Atletico behind them with a 2-0 home win over Deportivo last weekend. Madrid thumped Elche 5-1 in the reverse fixture and should have no problems dispatching them here. Real Madrid to be the Only Team To Score is available at 9/10.
Levante will want to erase any memories of their 5-0 thumping at Camp Nou last weekend when they host fellow relegation scrappers Granada. Levante whipped Malaga 4-1 in their last home match and will host a Granada side who struggle to score goals. The last two meetings between the sides have come at Granada’s stadium with Levante winning both encounters. Home advantage should give Levante the victory here.