Our football writer previews matchday 28 of the 2016/17 Spanish La Liga campaign.
It was a weekend full of surprises and upsets in La Liga as both Sevilla and Barcelona dropped points in what should prove crucial in the title race. Real Madrid returned to the summit of the table courtesy of a late Sergio Ramos goal to give them a 2-1 win over Real Betis. UEFA Champions League hopefuls,
Villarreal, kept up the pressure on fourth-placed Atletico Madrid with an emphatic 1-0 win away to Celta Vigo. Diego Simeone’s men also had to fight for a hard-earned victory at Granada, where they also came out 1-0 victors. Expect plenty of more twists in the title race, with every team going all out to beat the big guns. While that happens, let’s see where we can find those winning bets.
Friday 17 March
Las Palmas 31/20 | Draw 9/4 | Villarreal 33/20
Las Palmas suffered a 4-3 defeat at Espanyol last Friday which proved to be a cagey encounter in which the Yellows failed to take the lead. Quique Setien’s men have not been in the greatest of form with just one win in their last eight matches across all competitions.
Villarreal, on the other hand, have been excellent in recent weeks. The Yellow Submarine have won three consecutive La Liga matchups – and four in a row away from home in all competitions. Villarreal won the reverse fixture by a 2-1 scoreline and are 7/2 to win by another one-goal margin. For the not-so-brave punters, get on the straight away win at 33/20.
Saturday 18 March
Eibar 9/10 | Draw 49/20 | Espanyol 3/1
Eibar will look to end their winless run of three games when they host Espanyol on Saturday. Jose Mendilibar’s men will gladly return to the Ipurua Municipal Stadium, where they have been on a decent run of form. Espanyol come to town off the back of a thrilling 4-3 win over Las Palmas.
Away from home, the Catalonians have somewhat struggled, winning just four of their 13 matches played. Espanyol conceded three goals last weekend, and will remember their high-scoring encounter against Eibar last time which ended in a 3-3 draw. Leaking in goals is not something Quique Sanchez Flores’ side have been used to. Still, they should concede again here. Back the Both Teams to Score market at 9/10.
Athletic Bilbao 7/2 | Draw 29/10 | Real Madrid 7/10
A goal in each half secured a much-needed 2-0 win away from home for Athletic Bilbao against Real Sociedad. Still, Bilbao remain seventh in La Liga but are now just four points off Sociedad. Real Madrid returned to where they have been for most of the season – on top of La Liga. Club-captain, Sergio Ramos, admitted that he wasn’t entirely satisfied with their result.
Following his match-winning performance, Ramos told the club's official website: “It was very important for us to get the three points that take us back on top. I'm happy with the result, but we must keep on improving.” Real Madrid will know the pressure will be on them now that they are the leaders again. Still, I think Los Blancos should prevail and complete the double over their opponents. Get on the away win at 7/10.
Alaves 17/10 | Draw 2/1 | Real Sociedad 17/10
Alaves were exceptional last weekend as they claimed a 2-1 win away to Malaga, despite going a man down when the score was level at 1-1. Alaves moved into the top half of the table with that victory, but their home form has me asking plenty of questions.
Mauricio Pellegrino’s side have drawn seven matches on their turf – more than any other side in the division. Real Sociedad dropped down to sixth in La Liga after their 2-0 home defeat to Bilbao. However, away from home, the Royals have won three on the bounce. Sociedad won 3-0 against Alaves the last time they met, and at 17/10, they’re well worth a punt.
Real Betis 9/20 | Draw 33/10 | Osasuna 57/10
Real Betis take on bottom-of-the-log Osasuna in one of the many relegation scrambles this weekend. Betis would feel a bit thwarted in their attempts at the Santiago Bernabeu, going a man down with just over 10 minutes to play before Sergio Ramos struck the winner.
Osasuna ended their run of six straight defeats with a 1-1 draw against Eibar on Monday night. It may seem like a point gained but Osasuna still have plenty of ground to make up, being 14 points off survival. The travelling side are winless in 19 league matches. The home win should be backed given Osasuna’s wretched run of form.
Sunday 19 March
Leganes 27/20 | Draw 2/1 | Malaga 43/20
Leganes host Malaga in another relegation dogfight which will prove costly come the end of the season. Lega are 17th on the table and are just a point behind the visitors. Asier Garitano’s men also come off an emphatic 1-1 draw at Sevilla to dent their title chances and keep Leganes’ survival hopes alive.
Malaga have been horrendous in recent weeks, suffering four defeats on the trot. Nothing has changed in Michel’s first game in charge of Malaga and they should go down again. Leganes are tipped to make it five defeats in a row for the travelling side.
Atletico Madrid 7/10 | Draw 28/10 | Sevilla 38/10
Atletico Madrid made it back-to-back wins in La Liga with a hard-fought 1-0 win away to Granada. That was two victories on the bounce with two clean sheets for Diego Simeone’s side. They now face Sevilla in one of their most important games in the league.
Our full preview
Jorge Sampaoli’s men are unbeaten in seven La Liga matches, but have drawn back-to-back encounters – both against newly-promoted sides. Perhaps a big team is what Sevilla need to return to winning ways. Both sides have UEFA Champions League leads that they will want to hold onto in midweek, but that shouldn’t change much for this fixture. Atletico are tipped to make home advantage count with a win.
Deportivo 23/20 | Draw 9/4 | Celta Vigo 24/10
Since Pepe Mel has taken over at Deportivo, the Galician-based side have been superb. The former Real Betis manager is undefeated in four matches since his arrival, including a deserved 2-1 win over Barcelona last weekend.
Celta Vigo are going through a rough patch in the league. They’ve dropped out of the top half of the table and are winless in four games, losing two in a row. Celta claimed a 4-1 victory over Depor in the reverse fixture, but I can assure you, that will not be the case here. Get on the home win at 23/20.
Sporting Gijon 1/1 | Draw 47/20 | Granada 26/10
Sporting Gijon and Granada go head-to-head in what proves to be a massive six-pointer in the fight for survival. The hosts lie in 19th position, while Granada are slightly better off in 18th spot. The form suggests that it could be another low-scoring affair, with Gijon scoring no more than a single goal in their last five encounters.
Granada, on the other hand, have been impressive with their performances, but are still in search of their first away win of the season. For this tie, I can only see the Under 2.5 Goals market coming into play at 8/10.
Barcelona 1/8 | Draw 15/2 | Valencia 16/1
After an unforgettable week where Barcelona made history to advance to the next round from a four-goal deficit in the UEFA Champions League, they were shocked to a 2-1 loss at Deportivo to dent their title hopes.
Barca face some fairly favourable opposition once again in Valencia, who are winless in four away matches. The Bats also failed to capitalize on Sporting Gijon’s poor form when they were held to a 1-1 draw at home last weekend. This could be the tie which produces the most goals from the weekend. Back the Over 3.5 Goals market at 11/20.
QUAD @ 30/1
Villarreal Win 33/20
Eibar vs Espanyol BTTS 9/10
Real Sociedad Win 17/10
Leganes Win 27/20
Written by Jesse Nagel @Hollywoodbets