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Football

Barca, Real both away from home in La Liga mid-week action

Huesca vs Eibar

Estadio El Alcoraz, Huesca

Tuesday, 23-04-2019 @8:30pm

This Tuesday’s game is another ‘must win’ for La Liga’s bottom club Huesca. The trouble is they’ve already had several games in that category but have failed to claim maximum points. They could be relegated this weekend if things take a turn for the worse but victory over mid-table Eibar would give them just a glimmer of hope again.

It’s four straight draws for Huesca heading into this. The most recent was a goalless draw at Rayo Vallecano at the weekend, a result that did nothing for either team. It is only 4 defeats in 13 league games for the Aragonese minnows but there have been too many draws and they are paying the price for a really poor first half of the campaign.

Eibar meanwhile have 40 points on the board with five games to go. That should keep them in La Liga for another year. They’ve only won 1 of their last 7 games though and they do appear to be drifting slightly with the summer in sight. They head into this one following a 1-0 defeat at home to Atletico Madrid at the weekend.

The bookies are struggling to call this one and overall it has the feel of a game that could well end level. Huesca have gradually become accustomed to the standard required to compete at this level. However they’ve not really found the magic formula for converting one point into three and have been a bit wasteful in front of goal all too often.

With 4 straight draws, a repeat looks highly likely again for Huesca given the opposition here. Only Valencia have drawn more games in La Liga this season than Eibar. Away from home, they’ve been particularly prone to drawing games. 5 of their last 7 road games in La Liga have finished all square and 50% of their away matches this term have been drawn.

That has really prevented them getting in the European mix and a return of just one away win all season is poor for a side that is capable of more. Huesca have shown time and time again they can compete, despite their position at the very foot of the table.

Real Valladolid vs Girona

Estadio Municipal Jose Zorrilla, Valladolid

Tuesday, 23-04-2019 @9:30pm

Every week right now La Liga seems to throw up a huge relegation six-pointer and this Tuesday’s game is certainly another one. Real Valladolid have slipped into the drop-zone in recent weeks as the result of a demise in form coupled with a few other teams improving. However Girona have been even worse and Valladolid can leapfrog the Catalans with 3 points here.

Unlike many of the teams around them, both sides have kept faith with the coaches that started the season. Eusebio’s future at Girona is starting to look more doubtful though after a run of 5 straight defeats. The last two have come against direct relegation rivals, with Villarreal and Celta both edging out the Catalans. This is their third chance to put distance between themselves and the drop-zone but it may also be their last one, with little margin for error left if they lose here.

Valladolid showed plenty of spirit to come back from 2-0 down to draw at Alaves on Friday night. The result didn’t lift them out of the bottom three but it does send them into this game with a bit more belief. They’ve only won 1 of their last 12 league games though and with some tough fixtures to come, this is a game they really need maximum points from.

The bookies make the hosts the clear favourites but there is reason to doubt that. Only Huesca have won fewer games than Valladolid in La Liga this term. They actually won 4 straight games back in the Autumn. However they’ve only managed 3 wins since then with a lack of a genuine goal threat their main problem. They are the Spanish top flight’s lowest scorers with just 0.85 goals per game on average.

Girona are only really in trouble due to their horrendous home record. They’ve won just twice at Montilivi this season but they’ve been considerably better on the road. In fact only the top four have collected more away points than the Catalans. Eusebio’s side have avoided defeat in 63% of their away matches and against a fairly toothless Valladolid side, they look capable of at least stopping the rot here.

Deportivo Alaves vs Barcelona

Estadio de Mendizorroza, Vitoria-Gastiez

Tuesday, 23-04-2019 @10:30pm

Barcelona are now just two wins from winning the title and they could even be crowned champions as early as Wednesday night if they win on Tuesday against Alaves and Atletico lose their game. Ernesto Valverde won’t be too concerned by that though with the destiny of La Liga no longer really in any doubt.

There were a few nervy moments but Barcelona managed to beat Sociedad 2-1 on Saturday to take another step in the direction of the title. Valverde will be hoping to have it all wrapped up by the time of the Champions League Semi-Final 1st Leg against Liverpool. He may rotate his side slightly here but wholesale changes seem less likely given Barca will be keen to avoid any slip-ups, which could potentially leave them still with league distractions at a time when they will want to focus all their energy on Europe.

They do appear to be catching Alaves at a good time. The Basques have faded out of Champions League and perhaps even Europa League contention thanks to a run of just 2 points from their last 5 league games. They let a 2-0 lead slip to only draw at home to struggling Valladolid last time out. A few suspensions and injuries have left them stretched at the back but in truth they have over-achieved for most of the season, so some kind of dip was always likely.

Barcelona should be good enough to make a few changes and still win this game. They don’t have many selection headaches and were able to name players of the quality of Sergi Roberto, Samuel Umtiti, Sergio Busquets and Philippe Coutinho on the bench on Saturday. Therefore they can bring in some fresh legs here without necessarily weakening the side to a great degree.

There is nothing wrong with Barca’s form either, with 11 wins and 2 draws from their last 13 in all competitions during a spell in the season in which they’ve tightened their grip on La Liga and made excellent progress in Europe. Alaves have been very strong at home this term overall but they’ve lost their way a bit, even in that regard.

The Basques have now gone 5 home league games without a win and were hammered 4-0 in Vitoria by Atletico Madrid quite recently.

Atletico Madrid vs Valencia

Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid

Wednesday, 24-04-2019 @8:30pm

This is an intriguing game not just in terms of this season but how things might pan out next term and beyond with Valencia looking the side best placed to finally break up the top three’s stranglehold on La Liga. They head to the Wanda Metropolitano this Wednesday in a fierce battle for 4th place while Atletico are hoping to make Barcelona wait a bit longer to get their hands on the trophy.

Los Che had a pretty good weekend. Getafe beat Sevilla in a result which probably worked in their favour despite the Madrid club moving back into 4th. Valencia though picked up a key win at Betis the following day to leapfrog Sevilla into 5th. They would go 4th if they can spring a surprise and win here and having won 4 on the bounce in all competitions they may fancy they have a sniff.

Atletico Madrid have been very strong at home in La Liga this season though so it won’t be easy. Despite numerous absentees, Atleti won at Eibar at the weekend with big money summer signing Thomas Lemar making a rare key contribution by scoring the only goal. They remain 9 points behind Barcelona though heading into this round of fixtures and any lingering title hopes are unrealistic.

This is likely to be a tight game but with home advantage, Atleti might just edge it. They’ve got Antoine Griezmann back from suspension which obviously bolsters their attack while Stefan Savic should return in defence so it should be a significantly stronger team than the one that beat Eibar.

They also have an exceptional home record in La Liga this season, taking 2.56 points per game on their own patch. Not even Barcelona can match that record and despite a few damaging away defeats in Europe, few Spanish sides have been able to live with Atleti at the Wanda.

Valencia are capable of making a game of it but there may be some temptation from Marcelino to rest some key men here. Even with their strongest side out, they could lose this match and he may prioritise keeping a few legs fresh for the weekend match and particularly the Europa League Semi-Final with Arsenal which commences next week.

Leganes vs Athletic Bilbao

Estadio Municipal de Buturque, Leganes

Wednesday, 2404-2019 @9:30pm

This Wednesday’s clash at Butarque is a bigger one for the visitors than the hosts in truth. Athletic Bilbao now appear to be in a race with Alaves and Betis for 7th place, which will almost certainly mean Europa League football unless cup finalists Valencia have a total collapse. Leganes meanwhile look destined for a mid-table finish, a fine achievement for Mauricio Pellegrino’s side.

Leganes have never finished higher than 17th in La Liga and they’ll be hoping to keep up their decent form until the end of the campaign. They were beaten at the weekend away to Villarreal but had gone 4 games unbeaten prior to that to effectively guarantee their safety. They held Real Madrid at Butarque during that run and they are sure to provide a stern test for Athletic here.

The Basque giants were beaten by Los Blancos at the weekend, going down 3-0 at the Bernabeu. They had won 4 of their previous 5 matches though so they still take pretty good overall form into this one. They look the side most likely to clinch 7th now but that position does mean a very early start in the Europa League, something that may not necessarily be greeted with universal enthusiasm in Bilbao.

This game looks unlikely to produce many goals and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if it ended up all square. Leganes are pretty cautious, even at home, usually operating with what is basically a back five. Athletic aren’t blessed with an enormous amount of creativity and forward Inaki Williams is unlikely to be allowed much space to run into and make use of his lightning pace.

Athletic though have been very solid at the back on the whole since the change in coach and will fancy they can handle Leganes’ direct game relatively well. They’ve drawn 39% of their league fixtures this term with more of their matches ending level than they’ve won or lost.

Espanyol vs Celta Vigo

RCDE Stadium, Barcelona

Wednesday, 24-04-2019 @9:30pm

Celta Vigo take their push for survival to Barcelona this Wednesday. They face an Espanyol side who have been in decent form at the RCDE Stadium. The Galicians are starting to look a lot more comfortable now after an upturn in their form but they aren’t completely out of trouble yet with just a 3 point advantage on the bottom three heading into the midweek action.

Iago Aspas returned from suspension for Celta on Saturday and almost inevitably he scored and Celta won. Vigo average just 0.33 points per game without him this season but his return from injury at the end of March sparked a huge turnaround in their season with 3 vital home wins since then. 2 of those were against direct relegation rivals, the latest of which was a 2-1 victory over Girona at the weekend.

Espanyol are 7 points better off and are heading towards another mid-table finish. They twice led at Levante on Sunday but could only take a point from the game. The result suggests that they don’t really have enough time to mount a late push for Europe but having taken 7 points from their last 3 outings they should take confidence into this one.

The hosts look the side more likely to take home the points. They’ve been playing some decent football of late and the return to form of Borja Iglesias has helped them. He scored a fine long-range strike on Sunday to move onto 13 league goals for the season. He’ll be keen to add to that tally further to end with an even better return in what is effectively his debut top flight campaign. Backing Borja Iglesias to Score Anytime could be worth a punt against a shaky Celta defence.

Espanyol have also been involved in some higher scoring games of late and they don’t really have any reason not to throw caution to the wind and chase maximum points here. 8 of their last 9 home games in all competitions have seen both teams score and they’ve not kept a clean sheet at the RCDE Stadium since early January. Certainly that early season defensive solidity is now largely a thing of the past.

A Celta Vigo clean sheet is an ever rarer occurrence. They’ve conceded in 94% of their away league games this term with 69% of those games producing goals at each end. Their last 5 games have produced 20 goals in total and it’s clear they do intend to play their way out of trouble, almost certainly their best approach given their strength is clearly up top.

Levante vs Real Betis

Estadio Cuidad de Valencia, Valencia

Wednesday, 24-04-2019 @10:30pm

This Wednesday’s clash in Valencia is another big one for Levante who find themselves battling against relegation despite a bright start to the season. There’s not really any more positivity in the Real Betis camp though after another weekend defeat added to the growing uncertainty surrounding the future of Quique Setien. They could do with a win here as they bid to remain in the race for Europa League football.

Setien’s situation is a curious one. He is the bookies favourite to be the next Barcelona manager and many Barca fans would welcome him right now. However his possession-based approach and some of his comments to the press haven’t gone down well with Betis fans, many of whom were chanting for him to go during the defeat against Valencia at the weekend. Any decision is likely to be made in the summer and the final five games may have a bearing on whether he stays or goes.

The same could be said of Paco Lopez at Levante who worked wonders to keep them up last term but has lost the magic touch in the second half of this season. His side showed spirit to fight back from behind twice to draw against Espanyol at the weekend. However it was a game in which they would have been targeting three points and they’ve now gone 9 without victory in La Liga.

This promises to be a good game despite the problems both sides are facing. Betis will certainly come chasing victory as they aim to make up ground in the race for at least 7th. All of their last 6 matches have seen goals at each end of the pitch with 5 of those fixtures serving up 3 or more goals.

Levante meanwhile are the team with the worst defensive record in La Liga but surprisingly the joint 5th best goalscoring record. 75% of their home league games have produced over 2.5 goals and they’ve shown no real signs of adapting their style to make themselves more solid at the back.

Sevilla vs Rayo Vallecano

Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Seville

Thursday, 25-04-2019 @8:30pm

Rayo Vallecano head to Sevilla this Thursday hoping to cause a major upset and in truth needing to with their survival prospects looking pretty slim as we head into the final few weeks of the season in La Liga. The Madrid minnows could be even further adrift of safety by the time this game kicks off but they are unlikely to get any favours from a Sevilla side that is battling for 4th.

That battle took a turn for the worse very quickly on Sunday. Away to Getafe, the side directly below them heading into the match, Sevilla endured a nightmare 1st Half in which they gave away two penalties, both of which were converted. There were also six yellow cards shown to Sevilla players before the break, two of which went to Sergio Escudero resulting in a red. Needless to say Sevilla went on to lose the game and slip to 6th with Valencia also winning the following day.

Sevilla though have the easier run-in and they will fancy they can get back to winning ways here. Rayo Vallecano also had a poor weekend, only drawing at home to Huesca, the only side below them in the table. The result left them 6 points from safety and they could be relegated as early as this weekend if matters take a turn for the worse.

Things aren’t likely to get better here. Sevilla will surely regroup and at home, it’s hard to bet against them in a game like this. The Andalusians have won 63% of their home league games this season and the 3 of their last 4.

They are expected to have Pablo Sarabia back fit for this one which is a major boost given how key he has been this season with double figures in terms of goals and assists. That could be key and with the Spaniard having netted in 3 of his last 4 La Liga appearances, backing Sarabia to score anytime looks good here.

The problem for Rayo is that a point won’t really help them so they face the unenviable task of heading to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan and looking for 3 points. That could leave the division’s second worst defence badly exposed and the hosts have the quality to make them pay.

Real Sociedad vs Villarreal

Estádio Municipal de Anoeta, Donostia-San Sebastian

Thursday, 25-04-2019 @9:30pm

This Thursday’s clash in San Sebastian sees mid-table Real Sociedad play host to struggling Villarreal in La Liga. The visitors though took a big step towards safety by winning at the weekend and they’d only be two points behind La Real and virtually safe were they to win again here.

That weekend win for the Yellow Submarine came against Leganes and was largely merited despite some nervy late moments. Villarreal are now also out of Europe and are looking good to secure survival. With the quality they have, particularly in midfield, that should never really have been in doubt. However at the time of the return of Javi Calleja they did look like a side that was in very serious danger of dropping into the Segunda so he does deserve plenty of credit for turning it around.

Real Sociedad meanwhile are heading for a fairly unremarkable end to the campaign. They gave a decent account of themselves but still lost at Barcelona at the weekend and it’s just 1 win in 9 league games for them now. Motivation could become an issue with the Europa League positions now looking too far off for them to reach given there are only four games to play after this one.

This has the makings of a relatively open game. All of Sociedad’s last 7 matches have seen both teams score and they haven’t kept a clean sheet since February so the visitors certainly ought to get chances. La Real do play some decent football at times though and with Willian Jose back they have a bit more cutting edge up top.

Villarreal’s main weakness is their defence. They have performed a bit better in recent weeks but they are still a bit nervy in the central defensive positions and Sociedad will look to exploit that. Backing Over 2.5 Goals & Both Teams to Score could be worth considering with both sides netting in 58% of each of these team’s league games this season.

Getafe vs Real Madrid

Coliseum Alfonso Perez, Getafe

Thursday, 25-04-2019 @10:30pm

Thursday evening sees another Madrid derby in La Liga and it’s a huge one for the hosts who are just five games away from sealing an improbable Champions League qualification. Getafe moved back into 4th at the weekend and still have a mathematical chance of finishing above Real Madrid. That’s not likely to happen but they do have enough about them to be very competitive here.

Getafe’s 3-0 win against Sevilla last time out was the result of a disastrous 1st Half from the visitors in which they gave away two penalties and had a man sent off. Jose Bordalas’ side refuse to be moved aside in the battle for 4th despite both Sevilla and Valencia boasting more quality on paper and this is a race that now looks set to go to the wire.

There is no such drama in the Real Madrid camp with nothing left to play for but they did put in one of their better performances of the season to see off Athletic Bilbao 3-0 at the weekend. Karim Benzema was again the star of the show with a 2nd Half hat-trick and Real Madrid really would be in a mess this season were it not for the performances of the Frenchman.

Benzema now has 21 league goals. Only Leo Messi can better that in the Spanish top flight heading into this match-day and the Real Madrid striker is now onto 30 in all competitions. Backing Benzema to Score Anytime looks like a decent punt here as a result.

Real Madrid though are still not offering a great deal else in attack besides Benzema who has scored all of their last 8 league goals. Not since Dani Ceballos scored against Huesca in March has another Real player netted. They’ve only taken one point from their two away games since the return of Zinedine Zidane and there’s reason to think they won’t necessarily improve on that here.

This Getafe side is a match for anyone on their day and they average 1.94 points per home game this term while Real Madrid have only taken 1.69 per game on their travels. It’s just 1 defeat in 13 games for Geta heading into this and of the two sides they should be far the more motivated. That run has seen them keep clean sheets against both Sevilla and Valencia while at the other end Jaime Mata and Jorge Molina now have 27 goals between them this term and have formed a deadly duo.

BET ON ALL THESE GAMES AND MANY MORE @Bunga Bet

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