It was another eight out of ten weekend for me with only Barcelona conceding a goal and Celta Vigo drawing putting me out of my La Liga multiple. With four of the top six in action against each other last weekend - Real Madrid against Villarreal and Sevilla against Atletico Madrid - there were always going to be points dropped and opportunities for gaps to be opened and closed. As it turned out, both of those matches finished in draws, leaving second-placed Barcelona and fourth-placed Valencia clear to claim the big weekend advantage. Barcelona still lie second on the table, but are now only two points off Real Madrid. Meanwhile, Valencia have set up a mouth-watering encounter with Atletico this weekend as they moved a point behind the champions and could leapfrog them this weekend.
Levante failed to move out of the relegation places after they were hammered 4-2 by Rayo Vallecano last Saturday. They will be more confident of returning to their home stadium where they have recorded two good victories in their last two games there. Another plus for the hosts is that their opponents Eibar come into this match in dreadful form. Eibar went into their Basque derby with Athletic Bilbao looking to end a torrid run of form that had seen them lose five straight games in La Liga. They were unable to prevent their sixth consecutive loss as the away side ran out 1-0 winners. These sides played out an exciting 3-3 draw in the reverse fixture. Although Levante have home advantage they don’t look good enough to claim a third consecutive home win and Eibar’s barren run should improve. The draw is tipped.
Struggling Deportivo’s draw at Almeria must have felt just as bad as suffering a loss. Congo’s Thievy Bifouma was dismissed in the 55th minute for the hosts and Deportivo failed to make their man advantage count and claim a winner. Their fixture list gets tougher this weekend as they play host to fifth-place Sevilla. Sevilla welcomed La Liga champions Atletico Madrid to the Estadio Ramon on Sunday evening looking to defend their unbeaten home record in the league this season and did just that by playing out a goalless draw. Sevilla have won the last three meetings between these sides, and by two goals or more on all occasions. The away win looks a good bet at 11/10.
Athletic Bilbao 52/10
Real Madrid 9/20
Athletic Bilbao stretched their unbeaten run to three matches by edging out Eibar 1-0 on Sunday. Carlos Gurpegui’s first half goal was all that separated the sides, although the visitors could have scored much more if it were not for a fine performance from Eibar’s goalkeeper Jaime Jimenez. The win nevertheless lifted Bilbao into tenth. Their opponents will be raring to go here after their lead at the top of the table was cut to just two points following a 1-1 draw with Villarreal at the Bernabeu. It was only the second time this season that Real Madrid have dropped points at home and they will be looking for a similar 5-0 victory that they managed over Bilbao in the first round. Real have won nineteen of the last 21 meetings between the sides and they are a banker bet to add to that great record.
Elche continued their journey of steering clear of the relegation zone by earning a point away to Celta Vigo on Monday night. Their opponents this weekend lie below them only on goal difference and were held to a goalless draw at home to Deportivo last weekend. Both sides have found goals hard to come by in recent weeks and I’m going with Under 2.5 Goals at 11/20.
Malaga lived up to their defeat of Barcelona by following up that great result with another win, beating Getafe 3-2 at home. They will travel to a team who were helpless in their 3-1 loss to Barcelona, claiming a goal via the penalty spot. These sides have never drawn in their seven head-to-heads and the stats are pointing me to their first stalemate. Granada have won all three matches at home to Malaga, losing all four away games. Before Malaga’s shock win at Barcelona they had lost their previous two travels to Levante and Athletic Bilbao. Granada sit ninth and have been weak at home, winning just two games from twelve. However, they have drawn six, losing only four times. Malaga have proven inconsistent on the road and the draw should be taken.
Rayo Vallecano 27/1
Luis Suarez scored and created goals for Ivan Rakitic and Lionel Messi as Barcelona cut the gap on Real Madrid with a 3-1 victory at Granada. Rayo Vallecano forward Alberto Bueno scored four La Liga goals in the space of sixteen first-half minutes to help his side defeat struggling Levante 4-2. The former Derby County striker scored in the 23rd, 32nd, 33rd and 38th minutes. Bueno's first three goals were a perfect hat-trick - scoring with his left foot, right foot and head. The Madrid born striker will be looking to carry that form into this match as Vallecano hope for something special to claim points against Barcelona. Barca have won the last eight meetings between the sides, scoring 34 goals and conceding just one. Vallecano don’t have the most solid defence and Barca should take the lead early. With no value whatsoever on the win in normal time, take the Catalan giants to be leading at half-time for a little boost at 1/4.
Real Sociedad 12/10
Real Sociedad continued their barren away form by losing 2-0 at Valencia last weekend. David Moyes’ sides are the only La Liga team yet to pick up an away win. Espanyol moved up to eighth place with a 1-0 win at home to Cordoba but will need to improve on their poor away performance if they hope to get anything from this match. The Barcelona based club have lost eight of their twelve travels this season, winning just twice. Real Sociedad have put their bad early season home form behind them and have lost just once from their last eight home games, winning five times. Their last home fixture ended in a 4-3 victory over Sevilla. Sociedad won this match last season and should claim maximum points once again.
Celta Vigo 31/10
Villarreal will return to their home stadium full of confidence this weekend after a fine performance against Real Madrid on Sunday, drawing 1-1 with the European champions. It was Real Madrid’s first time dropping points at home since their 2-1 defeat by neighbours Atletico Madrid back in September last year. Villarreal went into the clash in fine form having won three matches on the trot. Celta Vigo have struggled on their travels, winning just three times from thirteen matches and scoring only ten goals. Villarreal managed a 3-1 win in the reverse fixture and have won their last seven home fixtures. The home win looks a sure bet.
Atletico Madrid 6/10
Atletico Madrid will host Valencia on Sunday in what is the biggest match in La Liga this weekend. Atletico were only able to claim a draw away to Sevilla last weekend, meaning they fell to five points below second-place Barcelona and lie just one point above their opponents. Diego Simeone's side were pinned back for much of the game and were fortunate to go into the break on level terms, although they improved in the second half and had a couple of chances to snatch a late winner. Valencia, meanwhile, now have a complete stranglehold on fourth place. They have a seven-point lead over Sevilla after beating Real Sociedad 2-0 last weekend. Champions League football looks almost certain to return to the Mestalla next season at this point. Any slip-ups here on for Atletico will mean their title ambitions can be written off. What will be even more humiliating for the champions is that if they lose, Valencia will move two points above them. Atletico have been superb at home this season, winning eleven of their thirteen fixtures and losing only once. Valencia’s downfall this season, like Atletico, has been their inconsistency on the road. Valencia have won just five of their twelve travels, losing three times. They managed to beat Atletico 3-1 in the reverse fixture but things should be much different at the Vicente Calderon. The home win is tipped.
Monday night sees bottom of the log Cordoba host Getafe in an effort to break their horrid run of form. Cordoba have lost six consecutive La Liga games and lie six points away from safety. Getafe are coming off a good showing where they gave Malaga a run for their money losing 3-2 on the road. Getafe have been inconsistent on the road and it would be very risky backing them against a side desperate to claim points. Both these sides have scored less goals than games played and backing Both Teams To Score – No - looks a good bet for the multiples at 6/10.