Our footy writer previews matchday 22 of the 2016/17 Spanish La Liga campaign.
League-leaders Real Madrid were one of four teams to be given the weekend off as massive storms caused plenty of damage to the grounds, deeming the match between Celta Vigo and Los Blancos unplayable, while Deportivo and Real Betis’ clash was also postponed. Despite not kicking a ball, Zinedine Zidane’s men still lead the standings by a single point, with two games in hand.
Barcelona trail in second spot, but Brazilian maestro, Neymar, is confident that Real Madrid can be caught at the top, "I know it's a little hard, but nothing is impossible," Neymar told reporters. Barca are not the only team wanting to make some ground on Los Blancos. Sevilla and Atletico Madrid sit in third and fourth spot respectively and will be hoping to play their part in making it a close title race.
Friday 10 February
33/20 Espanyol | Draw 21/10 | Real Sociedad 17/10
Espanyol picked up their third straight La Liga win to move up to eighth in the table. Their 1-0 victory away at Malaga was the first clean sheet they had kept since 3 December 2016, when they drew 0-0 with Atletico Madrid.
Real Sociedad returned to winning ways with a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Osasuna last weekend. Away from home, Sociedad have been blowing hot and cold. The Royals have won five and lost just as many from their 10 matches played on the road. Espanyol have been draw-specialists at home, while Sociedad are yet to draw an away game. Both Teams to Score is priced up at 17/20 and certainly seems worth a punt.
Saturday 11 February
15/10 Real Betis | Draw 9/4 | Valencia 7/4
Real Betis will make their return to La Liga after missing out of the action due to massive storms in the south of Sevilla. Betis sit 13th in the table with a game in hand over most of their rivals. If Victor Sanchez’s side were to win that game in hand, they would still remain 13th. Valencia will be looking for a turnaround performance when they travel to the Benito Villamarin.
The Bats come off an embarrassing 4-0 defeat at home to Eibar. Young Spaniard, Carlos Soler, was sent off for Valencia just before half-time which saw things go from bad to worse. The last tie between the sides saw Betis claim an emphatic 3-2 win away from home. That being said, goals are expected in a clash like this. Take Over 2.5 Goals at 19/20.
8/1 Alaves | Draw 17/4 | Barcelona 3/10
Alaves picked up their first win in five La Liga matchups, but stretched their unbeaten run to three games when they trumped Sporting Gijon to a 4-2 defeat away from home. For Barcelona, it was same old, same old as they battered Athletic Bilbao by a 3-0 scoreline.
Not so favoured striker, Paco Alcacer, took his chance when he was given his third start since joining Barca by opening the scoring for the Catalan side. Lionel Messi also found the back of the net to take his goal tally to 16 in the league – level with Luis Suarez. Alaves shocked Barcelona the last time these sides met, winning 2-1 at the Nou Camp. It would take a miracle for the hosts to pull off another upset like that. Personally, I don’t see it happening. Barca on the (-1) Handicap is the tip at 15/20.
6/10 Athletic Bilbao | Draw 28/10 | Deportivo 9/2
Athletic Bilbao’s five-match unbeaten run ended in the worst way possible when they suffered a 3-0 defeat to a rampant Barcelona side. Bilbao will be glad to return to the San Mames Stadium where they have lost just one of their 11 games.
Deportivo didn’t kick a ball last weekend, but still moved one place up in the table to 15th, after Valencia suffered a 4-0 defeat to drop their goal difference. Deportivo face a daunting test at Bilbao, looking to end their winless run of four matches. Bilbao edged this clash by a 1-0 scoreline back in September last year. With home advantage, Bilbao should claim the double over their opponents.
11/1 Osasuna | Draw 11/2 | Real Madrid 1/5
The team with the worst home record in La Liga take on the league’s best side at present when Osasuna host Real Madrid on Saturday. The Reds have drawn four and lost seven of their 11 home matches and are still searching for their first victory at El Sadar.
Real Madrid will be looking to stretch their lead at the top and repeat the same sort of scoreline they hammered Osasuna with the last time these sides met – winning 5-2 at the Santiago Bernabeu. Zinedine Zidane’s side have a UEFA Champions League clash against Napoli to think about, so I’m expecting a few changes in the Madrid line-up. Still, the likes of Marco Asensio and Alvaro Morata should blast Osasuna’s defence away. Back Madrid to win on the Half-time/Full-time Double at 11/20.
Sunday 12 February
7/10 Villarreal | Draw 26/10 | Malaga 39/10
Villarreal earned a well-deserved point at Sevilla last weekend, drawing 0-0 at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. The Yellow Submarine could have sunk if it wasn’t for a brilliant save from Sergio Asenjo to deny Samir Nasri from the penalty spot.
Malaga will face a tough test when they try to unlock the league’s best defence on Sunday. The visitors are one of four sides in La Liga yet to win an away game this season. Villarreal have won the last four meetings against Malaga, keeping three consecutive clean sheets. The home win is a top bet and should be included in all multiples.
8/10 Leganes | Draw 49/20 | Sporting Gijon 36/10
Leganes and Sporting Gijon lock horns in what promises to be a crucial matchup as far as relegation battles are concerned. Leganes lie 17th in the table and are winless in nine La Liga matches. Gijon are no better, sitting 18th on the log, failing to win an away game this season. Lega have scored just 15 league goals this campaign – no side has scored less.
Sporting Gijon have won the last three meetings against Leganes, all by a single-goal margin. The travelling side have been poor, but they boast a decent head-to-head record over their opponents. It’s worth a punt at 19/20 for Gijon to get something from this game on the Win/Draw Double Chance.
21/10 Las Palmas | Draw 49/20 | Sevilla 12/10
Las Palmas suffered their seventh defeat of the campaign on Monday night when they failed to break through a resilient Granada side, resulting in a 1-0 defeat. The Yellows have struggled to get into the top half of the table in recent weeks. Despite that, Las Palmas remain undefeated at home, winning six of their 11 games.
Sevilla’s title charge took a major blow when Samir Nasri missed from the spot for what would have been the winner in a goalless draw against Villarreal. Sevilla’s games away from home have seen 39 goals – 22 scored by Sevilla and 17 for the opposition. A cagey affair is expected in this one. Back the Over 2.5 Goals market at 7/10.
7/20 Atletico Madrid | Draw 36/10 | Celta Vigo 15/2
Atletico Madrid moved closer to their local rivals at the top of the table with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Leganes last weekend. Fernando Torres was the star of the show, netting a brace after Antoine Griezmann missed from the penalty spot. Celta Vigo surrendered eighth spot and dropped down to 10th after seeing their game against log-leaders Real Madrid postponed. They now have the opportunity to send a message to the leaders when they take on their Madrid-rivals.
Celta are owing Diego Simeone’s side after suffering a 4-0 defeat in front of their home crowd when the sides last met in September last year. However, Celta have won just twice from their 10 away games. Get on the Matchflow market of Atletico to Score First and Win at 9/20.
Monday 13 February
11/20 Eibar | Draw 29/10 | Granada 47/10
Eibar moved up to ninth in the table with their second successive victory in the league. Jose Luis Mendilibar’s side did well to take advantage of Valencia’s sending off, putting four past the Bats at their own turf.
Granada claimed a much-needed 1-0 victory at home to Las Palmas on Monday night, courtesy of a goal from Manchester United loanee, Andreas Pereira. The win moved Granada off the foot of the table. Still, the Nazaries are yet to pick up an away win and should find it tough against Eibar, who have done well on their turf this season. Eibar claimed a 2-1 victory in the reverse fixture and are tipped to pull the double over their opponents.
TREBLE @ 3/1
Athletic Bilbao Win 6/10
Villarreal Win 7/10
Eibar Win 11/20
Written by JesseNagel @Hollywoodbets