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La Liga: Barcelona out to seal title at home to Levante

 

Barcelona will win the La Liga with victory over Levante. (Agency Photo)

Athletic Bilbao vs Deportivo Alaves

Estadio San Mames Barria, Bilbao

Saturday, 27-04-2019 @2pm

This is a big one in the Basque Country, particularly with both sides involved in the fight for Europa League football. 7th placed Athletic Club now hold a 3 point advantage on Alaves in 8th. It’s starting to look like it’s purely a battle between these two clubs for 7th which will almost certainly be good enough for Europa League football next term so the result here is vital.

The sides drew 0-0 earlier in the season so the victors here will also take the Head-to-Head superiority, which is effectively worth an extra point at the end of the campaign in the event these sides finish level. There is only one side who really takes any momentum into this game and that is the hosts. Athletic have been steadily climbing the table for months now under Gaizka Garitano and head into this one with 5 wins from their last 7.

Alaves meanwhile have slipped out of Champions League contention and they’ll most likely also be out of the running for Europa League football if they lose this. They’ve taken just 2 points from their last 6 league games and that long awaited dip in form has finally come but it has still been a season where they’ve performed well above all realistic expectations.

It’s hard to look past the hosts here. Alaves are still struggling to get Guillermo Maripán back to fitness and they’ve looked much less assured without him at the heart of their defence. Defensive solidity has been the key ingredient in their success this term but they’ve been less convincing in recent months and have only kept one clean sheet on the road since October.

Athletic meanwhile have really improved as the season has gone on and they’ve managed to make San Mames a bit of a fortress again. They are unbeaten in 12 home league games now, although their last home defeat did come in a Basque derby against Sociedad. They’ve been scoring more goals too with 8 scored in their last 3 home games and they will fancy they have enough quality to break down this Alaves defence at least twice.

Atletico Madrid vs Real Valladolid

Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid

Saturday, 27-04-2019 @5:15pm

Atletico Madrid are clinging on to the slimmest of title hopes but realistically they know the game is up. Victory here for Real Valladolid would crown Barcelona as champions but the visitors won’t be too bothered by that with their own very real reasons why they need the points. We can expect a committed display from the visitors this Saturday as they battle to remain in La Liga.

Their hopes took a turn for the better in midweek. Valladolid beat Girona in a huge six-pointer at the bottom end of La Liga. The result lifted them out of the drop-zone but only by a point. They do take a bit of form into this one having gone 3 without defeat now but they will be well aware that this is going to be a considerably tougher match than any of those games.

Atleti to their credit are still battling on and chalking up the victories that now look set to be good enough to clinch 2nd place ahead of their city rivals Real Madrid for the second season running. That’s no mean feat but in truth it has been a disappointing season for Atleti who started the campaign with high hopes of pushing for silverware at home and abroad but end it with no trophies besides the UEFA Super Cup they won in August. They are also faced with uncertainty over the future of just about all their star players.

That hasn’t got in the way of their form though and they’ve won 9 of their last 11 games in La Liga with the only slip-ups coming in tough away games at Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao. It’s very hard to look past them winning this match. Atleti saw off a strong Valencia side in midweek at the Wanda and they’ve got the best home record in the division with an average of 2.59 points per game in front of their own fans and an 82% win ratio.

Atleti also have a ridiculous 71% clean sheet ratio at home too and there’s every reason to think they will improve on that here. Valladolid are the division’s lowest scorers with four fewer goals the next worst team. They’ve failed to net in 47% of their away games this term and don’t really have anyone capable of offering a consistent goal threat in the final third.

Up against an Atletico side that is so tough to break down, they’ll do well to get on the scoresheet in this one.

Leganes vs Celta Vigo

Estadio Municipal de Butarque, Leganes

Saturday, 27-04-2019 @7:30pm

Celta Vigo have had a real upturn in form over the past few weeks but they still have work to do to ensure they are playing in La Liga next season. They head into this Saturday’s clash with Leganes only 2 points above the bottom three. Their opponents don’t have much to play for but they do have a good record at Butarque this season so it won’t be easy.

Three home wins over the past month, largely inspired by the returning Iago Aspas have rescued Celta from a position of real peril. They picked up a useful point at Espanyol in midweek too and have lost just one of their last 6 in La Liga. That solitary defeat came at Atletico Madrid and was also the only game of the 6 where talisman and top scorer Aspas was missing.

Leganes meanwhile head into this game without a win in four games but they maintain a safe mid-table position. They were beaten 1-0 at home by Athletic Bilbao in midweek but that was only their 3rd home defeat of the season in the league. That’s an excellent record for a team that everyone expected to struggle but a lack of motivation could start to become a minor issue now with not much on the line in their final few games.

This is a tricky one to call. A couple of months back it would have been a home banker but Leganes have just had a bit of a wobble and they’ve only netted twice in their last four home games. Those fixtures yielded only four points and with the visitors clearly the more motivated side, Celta look capable of getting something.

They’d probably be content with a point though. That would move them onto 37 and they do still have to host bottom club Celta Vigo on the final day which they will fancy they can win. Celta haven’t travelled well this season but they’ve shown more fighting quality in recent weeks on the road. They’ve drawn 3 of their last 6 away league games and those could prove very useful points in the final equation.

Celta have only recorded one away win since August.

Barcelona vs Levante

Estadio Camp Nou, Barcelona

Saturday, 27-04-2019 @9:45pm

Saturday is almost certainly going to be the day when Barcelona win La Liga. They will do so if Atletico Madrid lose against Valladolid earlier in the day but whatever the result in that match, three points will seal the title for Barca here. Levante though have reasons of their own to try and spoil the party and their chances are at least increased by what is likely to be some considerable rotation from the Catalans.

Barcelona host Liverpool on Wednesday in the 1st Leg of their Champions League Semi-Final. Ensuring everyone is as fresh as possible for that game will be the priority for Ernesto Valverde but he will also want to get the title won this weekend to allow his team to fully focus on Europe. Barca rested players in midweek but still won at Alaves and they will fancy they can do likewise here.

Levante though come into this one on a real high having thumped Real Betis 4-0 in perhaps their best performance of the season on Wednesday night. They’d gone 9 games without victory prior to that and had briefly slipped into the relegation zone so it was a vital victory. Clearly any sort of result here would be a huge bonus for the Valencia club who hold a 3 point advantage on the relegation zone.

One man who is expected to be rested by Valverde is Gerard Pique. Barca simply can’t afford for him to pick up an injury on the eve of a Champions League Semi-Final. That should see Samuel Umtiti come in and he hasn’t looked particularly assured or fit since returning from injury. Levante are a side that plays on the break and they have already won at the Bernabeu this season.

The pace of Jose Luis Morales is perhaps their biggest weapon. He has netted 11 times this season and could be a real threat here. Backing Morales to score Anytime could be worth a punt.

It’s certainly a game that promises goals. Leo Messi was rested in midweek which suggests he will start here and that almost guarantees the Levante defence will have a tough evening. The visitors do have the worst defensive record in La Liga but they are also the joint 4th highest scorers having netted as many goals at Atletico Madrid.

Valencia vs Eibar

Estadio de Mestalla, Valencia

Sunday, 28-4-2019 @1pm

The race for 4th place in La Liga is really heating up now and Valencia are right in the thick of it. They have a bit of ground to make up though after a midweek defeat and there’s very little margin for error this Sunday. Eibar will be out to thwart them but they aren’t in the best of form so Los Che will certainly be expected to claim all the points.

Valencia were involved in an entertaining game at the Wanda Metropolitano in midweek. They twice equalised against Atletico Madrid before ultimately succumbing to a wonder strike from Angel Correa. That ended a run of four straight wins in all competitions. This is their final game before they travel to Arsenal in the Europa League Semi-Finals and they still have two possible paths into next season’s Champions League.

Eibar don’t have an awful lot left to play for. They have 40 points on the board which should be enough to keep them up but they might still be keeping half an eye on the picture below them. They’ve taken just 1 point from their last 4 league games to fade out of European contention but it has still been another good season for the Basque minnows.

Valencia boss Marcelino hasn’t been tinkering too wildly with his eleven despite those cup commitments and he should go relatively strong again here. Valencia’s overall form is excellent with just 1 defeat in 22 games in all competitions prior to the midweek trip to Madrid where they gave a pretty good account of themselves. They’ve also started scoring a lot more goals with two or more in each of their last 5 matches.

One man who has really stepped up for them is Goncalo Guedes. The Portuguese winger is looking fully fit again and has fired in 6 goals in his last 7 games including a vital brace in the win at Betis last time out. Backing Guedes to score anytime could be worth a punt again here given his current form.

Eibar were beaten 2-0 at struggling Huesca in midweek in a performance you might expect from a mid-table side with nothing to play for at this stage in the season. Up against a genuinely strong Valencia side at the Mestalla, it’s hard to make any real case for them getting a result or even running Los Che particularly close.

Girona vs Sevilla

Estadio Municipal de Montilivi, Girona

Sunday, 28-04-2019 @3pm

*Details to Follow

Real Sociedad vs Getafe

Estadio Municipal de Anoeta, San Sebastian

Sunday, 28-04-2019 @5:15pm

*Details to Follow  

Villarreal vs Huesca

Estadio dela Ceramica, Villarreal

Sunday, 28-04-2019 @7:30pm

*Details to Follow  

Rayo Vallecano vs Real Madrid

Estádio de Vallecas, Madrid

Sunday, 28-04-2019 @9:45pm

*Details to Follow  

Real Betis vs Espanyol

Estadio Benito Villamarin, Seville

Monday, 29-04-2019 @10:00pm

*Details to Follow

BET ON ALL THESE GAMES AND MANY MORE @Bunga Bet

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