Our football expert previews the Spanish La Liga week 31 action which kicks off on Friday 6 April 2018.
Just when we thought Barcelona were finally going to taste defeat this season when they were 2-0 down in the 87th minute against Sevilla, the Catalans fought back courageously and scored two goals in the last two minutes to remain unbeaten in La Liga. Elsewhere, bottom-of-the-table Malaga won their first game this year, beating Europa League spot contenders Villarreal. The La Liga blockbuster will see Real Madrid lock horns with neighbours Atletico Madrid on Sunday afternoon at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Let’s see what gameweek 31 has for us.
Friday 6 April
Deportivo La Coruna 19/20
Gameweek 31 kicks off with a bottom-of-the-table clash, with both teams desperate for points as they face relegation. Malaga’s surprise 1-0 win over Villarreal last Sunday left Deportivo as the only team who haven’t won a game this year.
Only three points separate these two teams and with eight games to go, this looks like a fixture we won’t be seeing in La Liga next season. Both these teams have been very poor in front of goal this season and have scored 43 goals between them. The Totals – Under 2.5 Goals – Market is tipped at 13/20.
Saturday 7 April
Last year’s Copa del Rey finalists Alaves will host Getafe in Saturday’s early kick-off. Alaves, who are winless in their last four games, have been struggling in front of goal, scoring only three goals in their last four games and have failed to score more than one goal in a game in their last eight games. Getafe have lost three of their last four games with back-to-back home defeats. Their 2-1 win over Real Sociedad last month was only their second win on the road from 14 outings.
Nine goals has been scored in the sides’ last two meetings. Getafe won the reverse fixture 4-1 but Alaves found their revenge in the Copa del Rey when they thrashed Getafe 3-0 at home. However, both teams have been really struggling in the last third so I’m going against the stats and backing Under 2.5 Goals at 5/10.
Celta Vigo 23/20
Celta Vigo scored in the last minute to earn a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao last weekend, extending their winless run to three matches. Celta’s form is nothing less than inconsistent with 11 wins, seven draws and 12 defeats. Sevilla were given a harsh reminder that sustaining concentration is needed to win against big teams as Barcelona scored two goals in the last two minutes to force a 2-2 draw. Vincenzo Montella’s men started the season very well but inconsistency crept upon them and they are now sixth on the standings with 12 wins and 14 defeats.
However, they are unbeaten in their last six games against Celta, winning four times, including their last three meetings. Sevilla have a Champions League game on Wednesday against Bayern Munich and they will most likely rest a few players here. Back the teams to cancel each other out.
Real Betis 12/10
Real Betis come into this game high on confidence, having won three games on the bounce. That good run of form has seen them climb all the way up to sixth with just one point behind fifth-placed Villarreal. Victor Sanchez can truly be happy with how his team has turned things around and they may now even book a place in the Europa league if they continue with this impressive display.
Los Beticos will be looking for redemption in this game as they were thrashed 5-0 by Eibar in the first leg. Eibar are winless in their last four games and they have won once in their last seven, scoring just three times in the process. Real Betis are tipped to win.
Barcelona’s unbeaten record was in jeopardy last weekend when they were 2-0 down in the 87th minute against UEFA Champions League quarter-finalists Sevilla, but the Catalans fought back courageously and scored in the last two minutes to force a 2-2 draw.
Leganes, on the other hand, suffered their 14th defeat of the season when they were beaten 1-0 at home to in-form Valencia. Barcelona have won their last three games against Leganes, scoring 10 goals in the process. With no value on the straight win, back Barca (Home) to Win Both Halves at 9/10.
Sunday 8 April
Las Palmas 31/10
Rejuvenated Levante welcome relegation-threatened Las Palmas who haven’t won a game in their last eight matches. The hosts have found their feet at the right time and are now seven points clear of the red zone. Levante are unbeaten in their last four matches and a win here will leave them 10 points clear of their opponents with seven games to go.
Las Palmas suffered their 19th defeat of the season last weekend when they lost 3-0 at home to defending champions Real Madrid, leaving them with little chance of surviving relegation. Levante are also unbeaten in their last three meetings against the visitors with back-to-back wins. Get on Levante to win at 9/10.
Real Madrid 15/20
Atletico Madrid 36/10
The La Liga blockbuster will see Real Madrid lock horns with neighbours Atletico Madrid on Sunday afternoon at the Santiago Bernabeu. Zinedine Zidane made a smart move last weekend by resting some of his key players against relegation-threatened Las Palmas. Los Blancos recorded a comfortable 3-0 win with a brace from their Welsh star Gareth Bale. It was Real’s fourth league win in a row and they will come into this game with their city rivals in a great mood.
Diego Simeone’s men returned to winning ways when they beat relegation-threatened Deportivo 1-0 last Sunday. Atleti have been solid at the back and they have conceded the least number of goals (14) this season but it will be very interesting to see if they will be able to keep their defensive shape against one of the strongest attacking lines. Los Blancos, who are on a five-game winning streak (at the time of writing), thumped Atletico 3-0 in their last meeting at the Bernabeu. Back Real Madrid to make home advantage count.
Real Sociedad 17/20
Real Sociedad have recorded just one victory in their last six games and are winless in their last three. They remain 15th on the log with nine wins, seven draws and 14 defeats. Girona failed to hold onto their lead when they drew 1-1 at home against Levante last weekend. The Catalan club have been superb in their debut season and are only three points behind fifth-placed Villarreal.
Girona will be desperate to return to winning ways as they aim to secure a spot in the Europa League next season. These sides have only met once and they shared the spoils on that occasion. Real Sociedad are favourites at 8/10 but that for me is too short considering how inconsistent they are and how good Girona have been. Back Both Teams to Score at 7/10.
Valencia continued with their good run of form when they beat Leganes 1-0 away from home last Sunday. Los Che are unbeaten in their last eight matches, winning seven times – including four on the bounce. They are now 15 points clear of fifth-placed Villarreal and a win here might confirm their Champions League return.
Espanyol recorded their 12th draw of the season last Sunday when they drew 0-0 at home to Alaves. The visitors have been struggling on the road this season, winning just once from 14 games. Valencia have won their last four meetings against Espanyol. The home win is tipped confidently.
Monday 9 April
Athletic Bilbao 33/10
Villarreal suffered a shock 1-0 defeat against bottom-of-the-table Malaga last Sunday, leaving them 15 points behind fourth-place Valencia and one point ahead of Real Betis (sixth) and Sevilla (seventh). The Yellow Submarine have been decent on their turf this season, winning eight and drawing twice in 14 games and they’ve won three of their last five home games.
Athletic Bilbao are winless in their last three matches in all competitions and have only won once in their last seven matches. The Lions have been poor on the road, winning just three from 15 games and have lost four of their last five on the road. Back Villarreal to make home advantage count.
TREBLE @ 4/1
Levante Win 9/10
Valencia Win 5/10
Villarreal Win 17/20
Written by Banele Pikwa