Our footy writer previews matchday 21 of the 2016/17 Spanish La Liga campaign.
Gameweek 20 of La Liga ended off in the best way possible for log-leaders, Real Madrid. Zinedine Zidane’s Galactico’s lead the standings by four points with a game in hand over their rivals. Barcelona and Atletico Madrid were both held to stalemates, while Sevilla suffered a 3-1 loss at Espanyol – much to the delight of the Real Madrid faithful.
It’s still early days, but Zidane’s men are moving closer and closer to a record 33rd La Liga title. Atletico Madrid have been pitted with the easiest fixture of the lot this weekend when they host Leganes at the Vicente Calderon. Barca and Sevilla face a tricky test when they host Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal respectively. The tie of the round will see UEFA Europa League hopefuls, Celta Vigo, up against runaway-leaders, Real Madrid. Let’s get straight to it!
Friday 3 February
Deportivo 11/10 | Draw 22/10 | Real Betis 51/20
Gameweek 21 kicks off with a clash between bottom half candidates, Deportivo and Real Betis. The hosts come into this game off the back of a 3-1 defeat against Eibar and are winless in their last four La Liga matches.
Real Betis almost pulled off one of the shocks of the season when they led Barcelona by a goal-to-nil in the dying stages of the game, only to concede in the 90th minute by a Luis Suarez finish into the bottom corner. Betis managed to hold on and draw their second successive game in the league. Head to head statistics sort of waver in the middle here, and for that reason, I’m backing a draw.
Saturday 4 February
Malaga 11/10 | Draw 9/4 | Espanyol 49/20
Malaga ended their run of four straight losses as they settled for a 1-1 draw at Osasuna last Friday. That’s now seven games that Malaga have failed to win in La Liga. Their opponents, Espanyol, have won back-to-back matchups in the league and come off a resounding 3-1 victory over title-chasing Sevilla.
Away from home though, Quique Sanchez Flores’ men need to pick up their form. The travelling side are winless in three away games and have suffered back-to-back defeats on the road. It ended in a 2-2 draw the last time these sides squared off. I’m not so confident in another draw, but Both Teams to Score seems well worth a punt at 9/10.
Barcelona 1/4 | Draw 52/10 | Athletic Bilbao 17/2
Barcelona moved up to second in the standings, but further away from runaway leaders, Real Madrid, after their 1-1 draw at Real Betis last weekend. The Catalans sit four points behind Real Madrid having played a game extra. Athletic Bilbao stretched their unbeaten run to five matches with a 2-1 win over Sporting Gijon last Sunday. That result means that it’s just four points separating Bilbao from the top four.
These sides have met three times already this season with Bilbao coming out on top once, while Barca have claimed two victories. Luis Enrique’s side have also dominated this fixture in recent meetings, winning six domestic matches on the trot against their opponents. There’s not much value in the home win, so back the Winning Margins market – Barcelona to Win By Two Goals at a valuable 31/10.
Atletico Madrid 1/4 | Draw 4/1 | Leganes 11/1
Atletico Madrid climbed up into fourth spot, despite sharing the spoils at newly-promoted Alaves last weekend in a goalless draw. It’s back-to-back clashes against newly-promoted sides for Atletico, but they didn’t get the perfect start they had hoped for.
Leganes suffered their 10th defeat of the season when they went 2-0 down to Celta Vigo in front of their home crowd. That’s now eight consecutive league matches that Lega have failed to win. Atletico have shipped in just seven goals at the Vicente Calderon this season – no side has conceded less. Atletico Madrid are tipped to Win To Nil at 6/10.
Valencia 9/10 | Draw 26/10 | Eibar 28/10
Valencia will be hoping to return to winning ways when they take on 10th-placed Eibar. After back-to-back wins against Espanyol and Villarreal, Voro Gonzalez’s men suffered a 3-1 defeat away at Las Palmas. The Bats will be looking to extend their three-match unbeaten run at the Mestalla Stadium, but they’ll face a stern test against Jose Mendilibar’s team, who beat them 1-0 in the reverse fixture.
The Basque side have lost two of their last six La Liga matches – against Atletico Madrid and Barcelona – having won two and drawing two. Away from home, they’ve won just once from their previous seven matches, losing three. Both teams have been prolific in front of goal – take Both Teams to Score at 13/20.
Sunday 5 February
Sevilla 13/20 | Draw 28/10 | Villarreal 39/10
Third-placed Sevilla lock horns with sixth-placed Villarreal in what promises to be a Super Sunday humdinger. Sevilla’s title hopes took a turn for the worst when they suffered a disappointing 3-1 loss at Espanyol last weekend.
Villarreal were glad to end their run of three games without a victory as they beat Granada by a 2-0 scoreline. From the top six, Villarreal have the worst away record, winning just two of their nine matches. That doesn’t bode well for their chances with Sevilla winning eight of their nine home games. This should be a close one but the hosts should have the edge over their opponents here.
Sporting Gijon 13/10 | Draw 43/20 | Alaves 22/10
Sporting Gijon suffered their 13th loss of the campaign when they went down 2-1 to Athletic Bilbao last weekend. Gijon are without a win in six games, suffering defeats in five of those encounters. Alaves made it back-to-back draws in La Liga when they held Atletico Madrid to a goalless stalemate at the Mendizorrotza Stadium.
Alaves now face an away game, knowing that their record on the road has been fairly decent. The Babazorros have lost just four on their travels, winning and drawing three apiece from their 10 games played. These sides drew 0-0 in the return fixture and I’m backing Alaves to come away with something here. For value, back the Clean Sheet Away Team market at 2/1.
Real Sociedad 3/10 | Draw 4/1 | Osasuna 17/2
Real Sociedad failed to make it three wins in a row after they were dismantled by leaders, Real Madrid, losing 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu. Inigo Martinez got booked in as early as the sixth minute and lasted another 72 minutes after that before he was shown his marching orders.
Osasuna moved off the bottom of the table with a 1-1 draw at home to Malaga. The travellers have won just one of their nine away games. Sociedad will look to take advantage of Osasuna’s poor away form as they look to get back into the top four in La Liga. This should be a one-sided affair, back the hosts at 3/10.
Celta Vigo 9/2 | Draw 7/2 | Real Madrid 5/10
Real Madrid will get a shot at revenge when they take on Celta Vigo on Sunday. The hosts knocked Zinedine Zidane’s men out of the Copa del Rey with an aggregate scoreline of 4-3. Madrid have shown that they mean business in the league and Celta will need to be at their very best to get some sort of result here.
All three meetings between the sides have seen the Over 2.5 Goals market triggered this season. Celta’s Iago Aspas has been firing on all cylinders this campaign, while Cristiano Ronaldo, on a bad day, is miles ahead of every other player on the pitch. I’m expecting this tie to be no different from the previous clashes and produce fireworks. That said, Over 3.5 Goals is tipped at even money.
Monday 6 February
Granada 39/20 | Draw 9/4 | Las Palmas 27/20
Granada shifted down to the foot of the table when they suffered their 12th defeat of the campaign in a 2-0 loss to Villarreal last weekend. Things have gone from bad to worse for the Nazaries who are now eight points from safety in La Liga.
Las Palmas got back to winning ways with a convincing 3-1 victory over Valencia on Monday night. The Yellows took advantage of Valencia’s red card in the 51st minute and went on to fire in two more goals to seal their victory. Granada have won just one of their nine home matches, while Las Palmas have the exact same record on the road. However, Las Palmas hammered Granada 5-1 in the return fixture and are tipped to come out on top once again.
TREBLE @ 4/1
Atletico Madrid Win To Nil 6/10
Sevilla Win 13/20
Celta Vigo vs Real Madrid Over 3.5 Goals 1/1
Written by JesseNagel for @Hollywoodbets