Real Madrid took full advantage of Barcelona’s slip-up to go top of the table. Nacho’s header was enough to earn to Madrid the much-needed three points after Barcelona were crushed 2-0 at Valencia. Getafe are now fourth on the standings after leapfrogging Atletico Madrid, who were held at home by Leganes. There’s a Madrid derby this weekend and a win for Zinedine Zidane’s men will surely end Atletico’s hopes of winning La Liga.
Photo Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
Friday 31 January
We kick-off gameweek 22 with a low-key affair as Granada welcome bottom-placed Espanyol at the Estadio Nuevo. The hosts are 11th on the standings and that tells the whole story on how well they’ve played since their return.
Espanyol started the campaign very poorly but they are slowly gaining momentum and picking up points. Granada thrashed the visitors 3-0 in their backyard but this will definitely be harder than that fixture. Back these sides to cancel each other out.
Saturday 1 February
Real Madrid 8/10
Atletico Madrid 33/10
Saturday fixtures get underway with a Madrid derby as Real Madrid welcome cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Real established a three-point cushion at the top of La Liga after they defeated Real Valladolid 1-0 last Sunday. A win here will take them six points clear and add more pressure on Barcelona. Atletico Madrid have recorded the worst points tally after 21 games since Diego Simeone took over in 2011.
Atletico have been struggling for consistency this season which has seen them bow out of the top four and that’s not a good sign for under-fire coach Simeone. The hosts are buzzing at the moment and will be difficult to stop – a win here will be a massive statement in the quest of winning the league. On the other hand, a defeat could cost Simeone his job as some of the fans were calling for his head after the Leganes draw on the weekend, stating that the glory days are over and it’s time to move on. Back Real Madrid to win this encounter.
Mallorca hosts Valladolid in an all-important relegation battle. The home side are 17th on the standings, one point behind the bottom three, while Valladolid are five points safe from the red zone. It’s incredibly important for both teams to pick up points in these games if they are to survive relegation. Back these sides to cancel each other out.
Celta Vigo 4/1
Valencia caused a huge upset last weekend when sweeping away Barcelona 2-0. That should be a morale-boosting win for the Bats and that’s something Celta Vigo should be worried about. On a good day, this Valencia team can give a very good performance and are capable of beating anyone anywhere as we saw in the UEFA Champions League where they won at Chelsea and Ajax.
The visitors are struggling for form badly as they are winless in the last seven league games and the terrible form sees them in the bottom three. Celta Vigo will have to dig deep if they are to survive relegation. Back Valencia to make it back-to-back wins.
Sunday 2 February
Real Sociedad 33/20
Leganes were incredible last weekend going to the Wanda Metropolitana and forcing a draw against Atletico Madrid, while keeping a clean sheet in the process. The hosts have been doing well under the guidance of Javier Aguirre and Luis Cembranos, losing just once in the last nine games while winning five.
Every point is important for the hosts if they are to survive relegation. Real Sociedad have been consistent this season and are well with a chance to get top four, especially with Atletico struggling. Sociedad are currently sixth on the standings two points behind fourth-placed Getafe. It’s hard to separate these two teams back a draw here.
Real Betis 37/20
Mid-table rivals Eibar and Real Betis go toe-to-toe at the Municipal de Ipurua where the hosts will be looking to make it three consecutive home wins after beating Granada and Atletico Madrid in their last home matches.
Real Betis suffered their first league defeat since November when losing 1-0 at Getafe last weekend. This should be a cracking encounter between two attacking teams. Back Both Teams to Score & Over 2.5 Goals at 21/20.
Athletic Bilbao 14/10
This is probably the second-toughest game this weekend behind the Madrid derby. Bilbao are a very strong side at the San Mames, they are stubborn and hard to break down. The hosts have lost just once in their last 15 games, winning eight and drawing six, including five in a row. Getafe are back in the top four after Atletico dropped points again.
The visitors will need to earn points at these tough grounds if they are serious about playing Champions League football next season. I fancy yet another share of the spoils here which will be Bilbao’s sixth draw in a row.
Sevilla returned to winning ways after a convincing 2-0 win to Granada to move five points behind second-placed Barcelona, but most importantly, they are drifting away from the likes of Atletico Madrid.
A home tie against Alaves is a perfect opportunity to make it back-to-back wins and kick away from the likes of Atletico or close the gap on Real as either team will drop points. Back the hosts on the (-1) Handicap at 9/10.
Villarreal bounced back from the disappointing home defeat against Espanyol a fortnight ago when beating Alaves in their own backyard last weekend. The Yellow Submarine are flying high lately, winning seven of their last eight matches.
Osasuna have been decent also and are unbeaten in the last five matches which proves this will be a cracking encounter. Because of home advantage, back Villarreal to claim maximum points.
Barcelona recently sacked their head coach Ernesto Valverde due to poor results and a low profile manager Quique Setien was appointed as a replacement. To be honest, Setien hasn’t been convincing – he won the first game 1-0 to Granada and won the second game 2-1 against Ibiza, until losing 2-0 to Valencia, which, to be fair, was his first real test.
The Catalans are now three points behind Real Madrid who are now favorites to clinch the title. By the time this game plays, Madrid might even be six points ahead, provided they win the derby and that would add more pressure on Barcelona. Back the hosts to claim maximum points in this all-important match with a Win & Both Teams to Score at 12/10.
TREBLE @ 6/1
Real Madrid Win 8/10
Barcelona Win & BTTS 12/10
Villarreal Win 17/20