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PREVIEW: Catch me if you can say Real Madrid! LaLiga Week 18

LaLiga has taken shape and the table starts to stretch thin. It’s one match before the halfway stop and the end of the year in Spain’s number one league.

Image copyright - Steve Haag Sports

LaLiga has taken shape and the table starts to stretch thin. It’s one match before the halfway stop and the end of the year in Spain’s number one league.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone
Standings provided by SofaScore LiveScore

Real Madrid dominate the table clearing the pack by eight points to date, Sevilla and Real Betis pull up in second and third respectively but fight that battle sperate form the rest of the table, while Atletico are barely holding onto fourth, and Barcelona are nowhere to be seen. The questions of who takes European places and who holds up the bottom end of the table are now in full swing.

Friday 17 December

1/1 Celta Vigo | Draw 47/20 | Espanyol 28/10 (22:00)

Last Saturday Espanyol was involved in a seven-goal thriller coming out on top over Levante by four goals to three. Celta Vigo’s away record is better with 12 points in eight away games versus their poor five points from nine at home but were not at full strength against Mallorca and came away with a lucky point. The home team have a bit of a safety net from the relegation zone, but a win over Espanyol means they might aspire to climb the table rather than stay afloat. Espanyol went all out against Levante with the feel of a must win fixture against the bottom of the table and just coming away with the win might leave them feeling a little tentative in this fixture. Back the double chance Draw/Espanyol at 7/10.

Saturday 18 December

8/10 Rayo Vallecano | 5/2 | Alaves 36/10 (15:00)

I know Villarreal is a tough customer, but I was sure Rayo Vallecano could satisfy coming off a decent run of form. Rayo Vallecano had plenty of chances throughout the game, but it was not the day for Andoni Iraola’s men. Alaves are without a win in their last four league appearances but have found the net in their last eight fixtures. The away team’s number nine, Joselu, is a real threat having scored seven of their last 11 goals and eight goals in total this La Liga campaign. I can’t back a winner, but both teams to score (yes) is the play at 21/20, and if Joselu’s name is on the team sheet you can back him.

11/10 Real Sociedad | 23/10 | Villarreal 24/10 (17:15)

Real Sociedad missed a golden opportunity to stay in the fray at the top of the table last weekend. Sociedad show inconsistency at the highest level and in their past five fixtures in all competitions they either win to nil or lose to nil (three losses, two wins). Villarreal are not far off in terms of finding consistency, but a 3-2 win over Atalanta (in Italy) to qualify for the last-16 of the Champions League coupled with convincing 2-0 home win over Rayo Vallecano means Unai Emery and his Yellow Submarine will be smooth sailing on a sea of confidence into this one. It might seem as if backing Villarreal is the play, but keep in mind a 10-point gap between the teams, and for me the totals market with both teams to score is where my money will be heading. Both teams to score (yes) and over 2.5 goals at 31/20.

2/7 Barcelona | 46/10 | Elche 17/2 (19:30)

Xavi Hernandez is now feeling the pressure just one month in, and I am sure he didn’t expect the job to be easy, but wow! Into the Europa League for the first time in almost two decades, on top of that drawing 2-2 with Osasuna, and a staggering 18 points behind Real Madrid. Barca still have the identity off and on the field in terms of play, but we know the players are not of the standard we have come to know. Even with a lack in quality, the players Xavi can rely on are all out, Martin Braithwaite, Sergio Roberto, Pedri, Sergio Aguero, Ansu Fati, Jordi Alba, Memphis Depay all out to injury, and Gerard Pique out due to suspension. Elche are just two points away from the red one, but they probably wouldn’t bat an eyelid at the opposition. I keep saying back Barca week in and week out, and my patience has run thin, and I will not lose another cent. I am all in on the double chance Draw/Elche as a value bet of 39/20.

33/20 Sevilla | 21/10 | Atletico Madrid 18/10 (22:00)

Last week I said Sevilla won’t feel the pressure in owning the role of ‘the biggest threat to Real Madrid’ but when they come up against Atletico Madrid it will be time to put on that chef hat and get to cooking in a heated kitchen. Poor Diego Simeone! He will feel like they were the only team that could have put a long-lasting fight to Real Madrid. To get defeated when not taking the chances they created would leave any manager fuming. Yes, they never really had Real Madrid under any pressure, but chances missed are always a big negative that sticks in the mind of everyone involved. Clean sheets are seemingly not the modus operandi under Simeone, and we can bet on that. Double Chance Sevilla/Draw and over 2.5 goals at 21/20.

Sunday 19 December

15/10 Granada | 43/20 | Mallorca 39/20 (15:00)

Just after lunchtime it’s a banana skin match for the punters. Both teams have drawn two of their last three and won the other by two goals to one in the same order. 12th place Mallorca visit 15th Granada with four points between the two. Granada had a stellar past two seasons but have fallen off the rails this year, while newly-promoted Mallorca are more or less where we expected them. I’d rather stay away but if you must, bet on the draw.

11/10 Athletic Bilbao | 9/4 | Real Betis 5/4 (17:15)

This fixture is extremely straight forward for me, if you know, you know, and if you don’t forget about it! Athletic Bilbao don’t look like anything will be forthcoming for a while. When matched up against a Real Betis side gunning at the top of the table playing attractive yet very tactical football with ‘name brand’ players and steezy attire to match how can you not love them under a reputable manager like Manuel Pellegrini. This is panning out to be a great season for Los Verdiblancos, one for their history books. At 5/4 put this one in all multiples.

16/10 Getafe | 2/1 | Osasuna 2/1 (19:30)

Osasuna did well to hold Barcelona to a 2-2 draw, yes, I’ll say it again, it’s not the Barcelona we know, but getting a result against the name still adds confidence in the minds of players and managers alike. Similarly, to the home team, Getafe will be splashing in a puddle of confidence after going unbeaten in their last four fixtures but are definitely still weary of their position on the table (19th) having drawn the last three. While it might seem straight forward in terms of the table, Getafe are showing the most fight of the bottom three. It could really go either way and I believe one team should nick the win, and I am leaning more in favour of Getafe. The draw no bet on Getafe is solid enough at 7/10 for it not to knock you out of the slips.

1/6 Real Madrid | 6/1 | Cadiz 15/1 (22:00)

Running away with it are they? After defeating Atletico in a controlled manner, you start to question if there is any team to compete with Real Madrid in La Liga. The form is through the roof for Los Blanco’s with the longest win streak in the top five European leagues. Carlo Ancelotti’s men have amassed a 10-match win streak in all competitions and a 13-match unbeaten run with just one draw. Karim Benzema came on for 45 minutes to do the job and he got it done, but will be sure to miss this matchup, and Luka Jovic has found himself again under new management so there will be no lack of fire power. Bet the half time/full time on Real Madrid at 5/10.

Monday 20 December

33/20 Levante | 22/10 | Valencia 17/10 (22:00)

Levante put up a surprising fight against Espanyol scoring three goals in a match for the third time this season but still failing to win. Whether they go for it or sit back and counter nothing is going their way. Valencia have found great form winning three and drawing three in their last six league fixtures. The Bats are riding a two-match win streak and will be uber-confident in making it three on the bounce. Empty out on Valencia at amazing odds of 17/10.

Quad @ 14/1

Real Betis Win at 5/4
Getafe Draw No Bet at 7/10
Real Madrid Half Time/Full Time at 5/10
Valencia Win at 17/10

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