Our football writer previews matchday 29 of the 2016/17 Spanish La Liga campaign.
International football is done and dusted for now as the action-packed La Liga race continues. Spain’s big guns can’t afford any more slip-ups as no place in the table is guaranteed. That goes for the teams fighting it out at the foot of the table as well.
The bottom three of Sporting Gijon, Granada and Osasuna have not escaped the drop zone in months. Back to the top of the pile, Real Madrid boast a two-point advantage over second-placed Barcelona with a game in hand over their long-time rivals. As mentioned before, no team can afford to slip up, so we should be in for a thrilling week of La Liga football.
Friday 31 March
Espanyol 11/10 | Draw 43/20 | Real Betis 51/20
Gameweek 29 is introduced with a mid-table clash between Espanyol and Real Betis. The hosts have done fairly decent this season and find themselves battling it out in the top half. Espanyol have won four of their last five matches at the RCDE Stadium.
Real Betis have blown hot and cold for much of the season. Away from home, Betis have been a bit poor, though. Victor Sanchez’s side have picked up just three wins from their 13 games on the road, losing nine times. Espanyol managed a 1-0 win in Seville the last time these sides met and are tipped to bag all three points.
Saturday 1 April
Villarreal 8/10 | Draw 49/20 | Eibar 34/10
Top-four chasing, Villarreal, look to get back to winning ways in La Liga after suffering a 1-0 defeat to Las Palmas just before the international break. The Yellow Submarine have been superb at the Estadio de la Ceramica, winning eight of their 14 matches, losing just three times.
Eibar seem to be losing some ground in La Liga, hoping to end their run of four matches without victory. On the road, Eibar have won just three times, losing and drawing five games each. Villarreal boast the record of the league’s tightest defence, conceding 20 goals this campaign. With home advantage, the Yellow Submarine should come out on top.
Osasuna 9/2 | Draw 3/1 | Athletic Bilbao 11/20
Osasuna return from the international break in absolutely dismal form. Its 20 games that the Reds have not won a match. That dates back to 17 October 2016. Athletic Bilbao haven’t been too great on the road either.
Ernesto Valverde’s men have won just one of their last 10 matches away from home. Valverde, who has been linked with the soon-to-be-vacant Barcelona job, hasn’t done too much to impress me this season. Bilbao sit in seventh spot, but that is only because of their home form. The sides cancelled each other out in the reverse fixture and are tipped to share the spoils once more.
Real Sociedad 7/10 | Draw 24/10 | Leganes 17/4
Real Sociedad will look to climb higher up the table when they host 17th-placed Leganes. The international interval may have come at the best time for Sociedad who suffered two defeats on the bounce before the break.
Despite some decent performances, Lega find themselves winless in 12 away matches. Leganes have scored just 10 times on the road – the second worst in the division. Sociedad picked up a 2-0 win in Leganes last time and should complete the double.
Malaga 4/1 | Draw 5/2 | Atletico Madrid 7/10
Malaga ended their streak of four straight losses before the international break, sharing the spoils with Leganes in a goalless draw. The hosts are in terribly poor form, coming into the clash with just one win in their last 15 La Liga encounters.
Atletico Madrid head into the new gameweek in opposite form compared to their challengers. Atleti have won three consecutive La Liga matches, scoring seven goals while shipping in just two. Diego Simeone’s men will be hoping for an upset to Sevilla, who are placed in third spot, just two points ahead of Atletico. Malaga are safe from the drop zone for now, but defeat could set them back big time. Back the away win.
Sunday 2 April
Sevilla 3/10 | Draw 17/4 | Sporting Gijon 7/1
Sevilla have slowly seen themselves drop out of what has been a three-horse title race for much of the season. Failing to win in three La Liga matches is not good enough to be a title contender in this league.
Sevilla will look to end their poor run of form when they host Sporting Gijon who have won just once on their travels. Gijon are stuck in the red zone, losing nine of their 14 matches on the road. Sevilla have won 10 of their 13 games at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. The home win is tipped.
Real Madrid 1/8 | Draw 15/2 | Alaves 16/1
Real Madrid will look to extend their unbeaten home record when they host Alaves this weekend. Madrid will know all about the task at hand after Alaves picked up a point at Atletico Madrid earlier in the season and also causing an upset at the Camp Nou where they beat Barcelona 2-1.
From the newly-promoted sides, Alaves have surely been the one to watch out for. However, Real Madrid hammered them 4-1 in the reverse fixture. Los Blancos’ last seven matches have all seen the Over 2.5 Goals market triggered. With no value on the home win, I suggest you take it a step higher and take Over 3.5 Goals at 7/10.
Valencia 8/10 | Draw 51/20 | Deportivo 32/10
Valencia suffered a huge dip in form before the international break, losing three of their last five matches in La Liga. Deportivo have shown signs of improvement under Pepe Mel, but the Spaniard’s terrific run ended with a 1-0 loss at home to Celta Vigo before the international break.
Valencia are enjoying a run of four matches without tasting defeat at the Mestalla, winning three of those encounters. The sides shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw earlier in the season, and with Depor looking strong under Mel, we could see goals in this one. Get on the Both Teams to Score market at 8/10.
Granada 10/1 | Draw 57/10 | Barcelona 1/5
Granada return from the international break with a tricky fixture against title-chasing Barcelona. The hosts are on a run of three straight losses in the league, one of those being at the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes in a 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid.
Barcelona are the highest scoring team in Spain, but only managed a 1-0 victory the last time these sides met. Before Granada’s loss to Atletico, they were on a streak of three consecutive victories. But, the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar can’t be backed against any sort of impressive record. Barca have won seven of their last eight La Liga games and will prove tough to beat. For more value, take Both Teams to Score at 7/10.
Monday 3 April
Celta Vigo 9/10 | Draw 51/20 | Las Palmas 11/4
Gameweek 29 closes with a Monday night clash between Celta Vigo and Las Palmas. It’s usually a high-scoring affair when one of these sides step foot on the pitch so this tie should be one to look out for. These sides played out to a six-goal thriller earlier in the season, drawing 3-3.
Celta Vigo probably have the upper hand in this fixture, boasting a much better home record compared to Las Palmas’ record on the road. The Yellows have won just once away from home, while Celta have won eight of their 13 matches at Balaidos. It promises to be a thrilling encounter with Celta tipped to edge it.
TREBLE @ 5/1
Villarreal Win 8/10
Real Sociedad Win 7/10
Celta Vigo Win 9/10
Written by Jesse Nagel @Hollywoodbets