Our footy writer previews matchday 17 of the 2016/17 Spanish La Liga campaign.
At long last, the Spanish La Liga returns this weekend with a full set of fixtures, which all look enticing on the betting front. Real Madrid enter the new year as FIFA Club World Cup champions and currently lead the standings by three points with a game in hand. Trailing in second place, Barcelona will look to kick the new year off with a bang when they travel to the Estadio El Madrigal to take on Villarreal in what is undoubtedly the most eye-catching matchup of the weekend.
And while Atletico Madrid hope to leave their poor slump in form behind them, the fight for top four must go on. Real Sociedad host Sevilla on Saturday night in a crucial matchup which can be seen as a six-pointer for both sides. January is the perfect month to make some much-needed cash, so let’s get straight to the action.
Friday 6 January
Espanyol 11/10 | Draw 9/4 | Deportivo 26/10
La Liga makes its return on Friday night when Espanyol host Deportivo. Quique Sanchez Flores’ men suffered their first defeat in 10 games when they lost to Barcelona by a 4-1 scoreline before the break. At home, though, Espanyol have excelled, riding a five-match undefeated streak, winning two on the bounce.
The same cannot be said for Deportivo who have been flirting with the relegation zone all season. Being four points clear of the drop zone proves how badly Depor need the win. However, Gaizka Garitano’s side are winless in eight matches away from home, losing five times. At 11/10, Espanyol are one of my favourite picks for the weekend.
Saturday 7 January
Real Madrid 1/12 | Draw 10/1 | Granada 23/1
World champions, Real Madrid, make their return to La Liga when they host relegation-threatened Granada. Los Blancos have had the best vacation possible, claiming the FIFA World Cup trophy just before the break. With the treble still in sight, Madrid will be hoping to return to domestic action with a win.
Granada will hoping for a late Christmas miracle as they look for their first away win of the season. The odds of 25/1 seem just about right for a side of Granada’s calibre. That being said, they’ve taken the value out of this game. Madrid on the (-1) Handicap offers the best value at 2/9.
Eibar 17/4 | Draw 26/10 | Atletico Madrid 7/10
Atletico Madrid start the new year off with a tricky test against a resilient Eibar side. The hosts have been superb at the Ipurua Municipal Stadium, winning five of their eight matches, suffering just one defeat.
Atletico ended 2016 off with a 1-0 win over Las Palmas, however, their away form leaves me asking plenty of questions, with just three wins out of eight games. Despite Diego Simeone’s side suffering with constant hiccups this season, Atleti beat Eibar in both occasions last season by a two-goal scoreline. Atletico should bounce back despite Eibar’s impressive home form.
Las Palmas 13/20 | Draw 29/10 | Sporting Gijon 39/10
Las Palmas managed to enter the new year in the top half of the table, despite failing to pick up maximum points in their last three games. One positive for the Yellows will be to play in front of their home crowd, where they are undefeated so far this season.
Sporting Gijon, on the other hand, find themselves in the drop zone and winless away from home. With Gijon scoring just six goals on their travels, conceding 16 in the process, they give me no confidence in tipping an away win. Las Palmas all the way here at a decent price of 13/20.
Real Sociedad 27/20 | Draw 24/10 | Sevilla 39/20
Real Sociedad host Sevilla on Saturday in what is expected to be a mouth-watering goal fest at Anoeta. The hosts have won the last three meetings against the Sevillistas. However, under Jorge Sampaoli, Los Rojiblancos have looked a much better side.
Sevilla have suffered just two defeats away from home, compared to last season where they went the entire campaign without an away victory. Although, this could be a tricky test against Sociedad who have won five of their eight home matches. This one could go either way. Avoid picking a winner here and instead take Both Teams to Score at 6/10.
Sunday 8 January
Athletic Bilbao 11/20 | Draw 29/10 | Alaves 11/2
Athletic Bilbao host Alaves on Sunday, hoping to kick-start the new year off with a bang and make up some ground on the teams above them. Alaves could prove to be tricky opponents, coming into this game undefeated in four La Liga matchups. The Babazorros have showed some class since being in the top flight, even away from home where they have lost just three of their eight games.
However, let’s not forget that Bilbao have been superb at the San Mames Stadium, claiming six victories in eight matches. And while star-striker, Aritz Aduriz, will also look to add to his goal tally, I cannot look past the home win at 11/20.
Real Betis 21/20 | Draw 9/4 | Leganes 28/10
Real Betis and Leganes battle it out as both sides sit in 14th and 15th spot respectively. Both sides have no chance of making it into the top half of the table this weekend, but a win for either team could boost their chances of survival come end of the season.
Leganes have drawn three consecutive La Liga matches and are winless in six away games across all competitions. Betis have been the slightly better of the two strugglers and are undefeated in four home games in all competitions, keeping clean sheets in all three of their wins. Betis are worth a punt to Win to Nil here at 7/4, but for those that like to play it safe, back the straight win at just over even money.
Celta Vigo 17/20 | Draw 26/10 | Malaga 3/1
Celta Vigo will look to put 2016 behind them and start afresh as they suffered back-to-back defeats in the closing stages of last year. However, Iago Aspas has been the shining light in the Sky Blues’ squad, notching up with 10 goals to his name – level with Cristiano Ronaldo.
Malaga, who are winless in three La Liga matches, come in search for their first away win of the campaign. Marcelo Romero knows what he got into when he took the Malaga job and this could be the first of many stern tests for the Anchovies. All that said, Celta to win is the tip at 17/20.
Villarreal 5/1 | Draw 34/10 | Barcelona 5/10
The Spanish La Liga returns this weekend with a mouth-watering matchup between Villarreal and Barcelona at the Estadio El Madrigal. Luis Enrique knows that this game will not be easy for his Barca side after being held here last season by a 2-2 scoreline.
The Yellow Submarine have been superb at their ground, winning six of their eight matches played. Barca will look to catch up on log-leaders, Real Madrid, while Villarreal will look to solidify their fourth spot. Statistically, this is a tie between the league’s best defence up against the division's best attack.
Given the fact that Barcelona hold an incredible record over Villarreal, I can only see one winner. The hosts have been superb at their ground, however, a test against the world’s deadliest attack has come too soon for Escriba’s men.
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Osasuna 28/10 | Draw 5/2 | Valencia 19/20
Osasuna will look to turn their treacherous season around in 2017 when they host Valencia on Monday night. The hosts are the only side in the division yet to win in front of their home crowd. Voro will take charge of his first game as Valencia boss after Cesare Prandelli stepped down after just eight games at the helm.
The Bats boss couldn’t have asked for a more favourable fixture and will look to put one of the most successful Spanish clubs back on track. As mentioned before, Osasuna are yet to claim maximum points at home and should go down here. Back Valencia to come good at 19/20.
QUAD @ 8/1
Espanyol Win 11/10
Atletico Madrid Win 7/10
Las Palmas Win 13/20
Real Sociedad vs Sevilla BTTS 6/10
Written by Jesse Nagel @Hollywoodbets