Our footy scribe previews matchday 18 of the 2016/17 Spanish La Liga season.
After 17 Gameweeks in the Spanish La Liga, things are starting to take shape. Atletico Madrid made their way back into the top four with a 2-0 win over Eibar last weekend, while Sevilla leapfrogged Barcelona into second spot after their emphatic 4-0 victory away to Real Sociedad.
Barca were the only team from the big four not to pick up maximum points as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Villarreal. For runaway leaders, Real Madrid, it was back to business as they hammered Granada 5-0. Los Blancos head into the new week four points clear at the top with a game in hand over their rivals.
Saturday 14 January
Leganes 9/4 | Draw 21/10 | Athletic Bilbao 27/20
Leganes ended their run of three straight draws by suffering a 2-0 loss at Real Betis last weekend. That result dropped them to 16th in the standings and winless in five league matches. Athletic Bilbao were somehow held to a goalless draw at home to Alaves.
Bilbao’s place in the top half of the table is in jeopardy, with Celta Vigo and Las Palmas hot on their heels. Leganes, however, haven’t been too convincing at home, winning just one of their eight games. Under 2.5 Goals is tipped at 5/10.
Barcelona 1/8 | Draw 8/1 | Las Palmas 18/1
Lionel Messi snatched a point for Barcelona last week with a superbly-struck free-kick in the 90th-minute to end the game at 1-1 against Villarreal. That goal put Messi above everyone else in the scoring charts with 13 to his name, but Barca still find themselves trailing in third spot – five points behind Real Madrid.
Las Palmas moved up two places in La Liga to eighth on the log after their 1-0 win over Sporting Gijon last time out. The Yellows have lost five of their eight away games, and against Barca, their challenges keep getting tougher. Surprisingly, the Catalans have won just 50% of their home games. That said, Las Palmas could upset the hosts and bag themselves a goal. At 17/20, Both Teams to Score is certainly worth a punt!
Atletico Madrid 2/9 | Draw 47/10 | Real Betis 25/2
Atletico Madrid started the new year in the most Atletico Madrid-way possible. A clean sheet, Antoine Griezmann scoring, and three points means that Diego Simeone’s side moved up into fourth place.
Real Betis replicated Atletico’s 2-0 scoreline against Leganes as they look to break through into the business end of the table. Betis will need to pick up on their away form if they are to mount any challenge in this tie, winning just two of their eight games. Atletico won this fixture 5-1 last season, and are tipped to win on the (-1) Handicap at 13/20.
Deportivo 18/10 | Draw 21/10 | Villarreal 33/20
Deportivo failed to hold onto their lead against Espanyol last weekend as they conceded just four minutes after finding the back of the net. Juanfran was given his marching orders late in the game after receiving two bookings.
Villarreal also failed to hold onto their 1-0 lead against Barcelona, with Lionel Messi striking the net with a wonderful free-kick in the 90th-minute. That result kicked the Yellow Submarine out of the top four, as they sit 10 points behind leaders, Real Madrid. Villarreal boast the league’s record for the tightest defence this season, conceding as little as 12 goals. Back the Double Chance and Totals market and go with Villarreal Win/Draw & Over 1.5 Goals at 11/10.
Sunday 15 January
Valencia 9/10 | Draw 26/10 | Espanyol 28/10
Valencia were left disappointed on Monday night as they let their lead slip in the 92nd-minute to end the game at 3-3. Daniel Parejo missed from the penalty spot which could have given Valencia a 4-2 lead in the 86th-minute. Espanyol were kicked out of the top half of the table as they failed to make home advantage count against Deportivo last Friday night.
Away from home, Espanyol have been fairly decent, losing just twice in eight matches. It’s Valencia’s home form that doesn’t read well. The Bats have won just once at their turf this season and are winless in eight La Liga encounters. Espanyol on the Double Chance is tipped at 8/10.
Celta Vigo 7/10 | Draw 26/10 | Alaves 17/4
Celta Vigo continued their impressive home form when they humbled Malaga to a 3-1 scoreline last weekend. Iago Aspas netted his 11th goal of the campaign; only Luis Suarez (12) and Lionel Messi (13) have more. Alaves seem to be one of those sides that perform better away from home. The Babazorros earned another point on the road as they held Athletic Bilbao to a goalless draw.
Alaves have kept four consecutive clean sheets on the road in La Liga, but I get the feeling that five in a row seems out of their reach. Celta have won six of their nine home games, scoring 16 goals and conceding half of that amount. With Aspas in such frightening form, the home win has to be backed.
Granada 1/1 | Draw 24/10 | Osasuna 28/10
Granada and Osasuna clash as the league’s two bottom sides go head to head. The hosts are slightly better off than their opponents, being a point above them in the table. Granada have scored the least amount of goals at home, but their defence has somehow saved them this season, which has often resulted in low-scoring affairs.
Osasuna are winless in nine La Liga matches, losing seven times. A tie like this is always difficult to call. Granada have home advantage and boast a much better side on paper. That said, back the home win at even money.
Sporting Gijon 18/10 | Draw 43/20 | Eibar 16/10
After their 1-0 defeat away to Las Palmas last weekend, Sporting Gijon will return to the El Molinon where they boast a much better record. Gijon are still stuck in the bottom three, but are just a point behind Valencia.
Eibar suffered just their second defeat at home this season, going down 2-0 to Atletico Madrid. Away from home, Eibar have managed just one victory in eight games. In league football, Eibar are also winless in four matches. Back the Double Chance and Totals market here with Gijon to Win/Draw & Under 3.5 Goals at 8/10.
Sevilla 26/10 | Draw 11/4 | Real Madrid 19/20
Undoubtedly the tie of the round sees second-placed Sevilla lock horns with runaway leaders, Real Madrid. Sevilla come off the back of an emphatic 4-0 victory away to Real Sociedad, while Madrid thrashed Granada 5-0 at home. Sevilla have won seven of their eight home games, but still, it would take something special to beat Real Madrid, who equalled a Spanish club record by going 39 games unbeaten.
Cristiano Ronaldo comes into this clash fresh off claiming yet another award, winning the FIFA Best Men’s Player for 2016. Sevilla boss, Jorge Sampaoli, has been linked with the Barcelona job, so beating Real Madrid would be something he needs to get accustomed to. It will certainly be a humdinger of a match and I’m expecting the sides to cancel each other out – meaning Madrid break the record and go 40 games without a loss.
Monday 16 January
Malaga 15/10 | Draw 22/10 | Real Sociedad 37/20
Malaga host Real Sociedad in the final matchup of Gameweek 18. The visitors come into this tie off the back of a 4-0 hammering at home to a rampant Sevilla side. Malaga also fell to defeat, away to Celta Vigo. That was sort of expected as Malaga are yet to win a match on the road this season. They’ll be happy to return to the La Rosaleda Stadium where they have won five of their eight games, losing just once.
Sociedad have won four and lost four of their eight away encounters, scoring just as many as they have conceded (13). I’m expecting a high-scoring matchup with Over 2.5 Goals tipped at 19/20.
TREBLE @ 9/2
Barcelona vs Las Palmas BTTS 19/20
Atletico Madrid Win (-1) Handicap 13/20
Celta Vigo Win 7/10
Written by Jesse Nagel @Hollywoodbets