|Our Spanish La Liga scribe takes a look at the set of fixtures for the 2015/16 season.|
The 2015-16 Spanish La Liga has been one hell of a ride and the final week promises to be the most exciting.
Barcelona are top of La Liga on 88 points, one ahead of Real Madrid in second and three above Atletico Madrid, who dropped out of the title race after losing 2-1 at Levante last weekend. Barca will be looking to win their sixth league title in eight seasons, while Real Madrid will be looking to lift the trophy for the first time since 2012, and second time in eight seasons.
The title will be settled on Saturday evening while the relegation battle will conclude 24 hours later. Both Granada and Deportivo are safe from the drop with only Levante confirmed in next year’s Segunda and the final two places will be filled by two from Rayo Vallecano, Getafe and Sporting Gijon.
FRIDAY 13 MAY
Valencia 7/10 | Draw 3/1 | Real Sociedad 33/10
Valencia are winless in three matches with consecutive losses following their 3-2 defeat away to Real Madrid last weekend. Pako Ayestaran will be hoping to end the season off with a victory for the Valencia faithful after a disastrous season that could see them finish in the bottom half of the table. Real Sociedad sit comfortably in 9th position after their 2-1 victory over Rayo Vallecano last weekend. Prior to that result, La Real were winless in four matches, suffering three defeats. Both teams have nothing to play for and 3/1 odds for the draw looks well worth a punt.
SATURDAY 14 MAY
Deportivo La Coruna 12/1 |Draw 13/2 | Real Madrid 2/11
Zinedine Zidane’s side go to Deportivo La Coruna on the final day, but they’re relying on Granada, who themselves secured safety last weekend, to do them a favour to give them the unlikeliest of title victories. Los Blancos recorded a 3-2 victory over Valencia last Sunday, thanks to a brace from Cristiano Ronaldo, which took his tally for the season to 33 in La Liga. That was Real’s 11th successive victory and their 27th of the season. Los Blancos thrashed Deportivo 5-0 in the beginning of the year, courtesy of a Gareth Bale hat-trick. Take Real Madrid to Win By Three Or More Goals at even money.
Granada 18/1 | Draw 9/1 | Barcelona 1/10
Barcelona will become La Liga champions for the second year in succession should they win their final game of the season away to Granada. Even a defeat will be enough if Real Madrid draw, thanks to Barca's superior head-to-head record. Luis Enrique’s side come off a resounding 5-0 victory over city rivals Espanyol, their fourth successive win in La Liga. In those games, they’ve scored 21 goals while keeping four clean sheets. Granada sealed their La Liga status for another season by thrashing Europa League finalists Sevilla 4-1 away from home. Their safety means the job is done and they have nothing to play for. Barcelona have won eight from their nine meetings with Granada and are tipped to claim maximum points which will secure the La Liga title. Take Barca to Win By Three Or More Goals at 7/10.
Athletic Bilbao 4/10 | Draw 4/1 | Sevilla 62/10
Athletic Bilbao assured themselves of a top-six finish and a place in next season's Europa League, despite drawing 0-0 with Las Palmas last weekend. Ernesto Valverde’s side have been impressive at San Mames Stadium, winning 10 of their 18 home games with four draws. Los Leones will be hopeful of taking maximum points off Sevilla, who have failed to win on the road this season. Unai Emery’s side suffered a miserable 4-1 defeat to relegation-threatened Granada. As a result, it was one of Sevilla’s worst of the season, without question. Emery will demand better with the quality at his disposal, but their away form does not bode well. Los Rojiblancos have lost nine and drawn nine of their 18 away games. The home win is tipped at 4/10.
Atletico Madrid 9/10 | Draw 26/10 | Celta Vigo 29/10
Atletico Madrid's hopes of ripping the title from the hands of Barcelona were dealt a terminal blow by relegated Levante. Despite taking an early lead through Fernando Torres at Estadi Ciutat de Valencia, Atletico ended with nothing from the meeting as Victor Cadasesus equalised in the 30th-minute before Giuseppe Rossi came off the bench to score a last-gasp winner for La Liga's bottom club. Atletico are three points behind Barca but can't overcome the Catalan club because of their inferior head-to-head record against Luis Enrique's team this term. Colchoneros will return to the Vicente Calderon where they remain unbeaten in 16 matches with 13 wins, including six on the spin. In those games, they’ve kept 11 clean sheets. Celta Vigo are winless in their last two away games and have lost five of their last nine travels. Back the home win at 9/10.
SUNDAY 15 MAY
Malaga 1/1 | Draw 5/2 | Las Palmas 27/10
Malaga suffered a 1-0 defeat away to Celta Vigo last Sunday, courtesy of Nolito’s 31st-minute strike. Javi Gracia’s side will be hoping to bounce back strongly at La Rosaleda Stadium, where they’ve lost just once in their last five games. Malaga’s last home tie was a comfortable 3-1 victory over relegated Levante and Gracia will be hoping to replicate that performance against Las Palmas. Quique Setien’s side are safe from relegation and too far from a European finish to have any clear motivation aside from being contented with their place in the top division in Spain. Las Palmas have lost their last two travels and are not expected to pose a significant threat to Malaga. Back the home win at even money.
Espanyol 1/1 | Draw 26/10 | Eibar 5/2
Espanyol were hammered 5-0 by Barcelona in the Catalan derby last weekend. Los Pericos are safe from relegation, and will not play as hard as they would if their season was on the line. Eibar’s season has been great to watch and never dull; at one point it looked as if the La Liga minnows were going to secure Europa League football for next season, however just one win in their last 13 league outings means that Eibar now lie 12th in the league, with a slim chance of finishing in the top half of the table. The Basque side are winless in four matches, but I’m tipping them to earn a point at 26/10.
42/10 Real Betis | Draw 3/1 | Getafe 6/10
Real Betis, who are safe from relegation, are winless in three matches following their 1-1 draw at home to Eibar last Sunday. Prior to that result, Betis suffered back-to-back losses against Sevilla and Barcelona. Their main objective was to avoid relegation and with that successfully achieved, the players will be looking to impress Gus Poyet, who has joined on a two-year deal. He will take over from interim boss Juan Merino when the Spanish season comes to a close. Getafe are not safe from relegation, but have their fate in their own hands. They just need to beat Betis to be mathematically safe. A draw might even suit Juan Esnaider's team if both Rayo Vallecano and Sporting Gijon don't win their games. Getafe have won their last two away games and are tipped to pick up a vital win at 6/10.
Sporting Gijon 4/10 | Draw 37/10 | Villarreal 7/1
Sporting Gijon are 18th in La Liga on 36 points following their 1-1 draw away to Getafe last weekend. They will stay in the top flight if they can beat Villarreal and Getafe lose or draw against Betis. They would also survive the drop if they draw with Villarreal, Getafe lose and Rayo lose or draw against Levante. It’s complicated I know, but all Gijon need to think about is beating Villarreal. The Yellow Submarine have won the last three meetings against them which spells doom for the relegation-threatened club. Take Villarreal on the Win/Draw Double at 18/10.
Rayo Vallecano 3/10 | Draw 9/2 | Levante 15/2
Rayo Vallecano are in real danger of relegation after losing 2-1 at Real Sociedad last Sunday. That was a third straight defeat for Paco Jemez’s side which will need to beat Levante and hope for Getafe or Sporting Gijon to lose if they are to avoid the drop. You would think at least Rayo have an easy fixture against relegated Levante who have nothing to play for. However, Rubi’s men didn’t have anything to play for last weekend and they beat Atletico Madrid 2-1, ending their title dream in the process. The fact that Levante haven’t won on the road this year, will give Vallecano hope but I wouldn’t bet on it. Both these sides have leaked goals which is why they find themselves in the position they’re in. Get on Both Teams To Score at 7/10.