Deportivo Alavés vs Real Valladolid
Estadio de Mendizorroza, Vitoria-Gasteiz
Friday, 19-04-2019 @10pm
The Friday night game this week in La Liga comes from the Basque Country where European hopefuls Alaves entertain relegation threatened Real Valladolid. Neither side is in the best of form but something has to give here and victory would be huge for either team in terms of their respective objectives for the campaign.
Alaves were right in Champions League contention a few weeks back but a run of just 1 point from 4 games seems to have ended those dreams. In fairness, Abelardo has been quick to point out all season that they are over-achieving and they don’t really have the kind of quality you’d expect from a top four side. They’ve now also dropped out of the Europa League places but they’d move back to 7th with victory here.
Valladolid meanwhile would happily take 17th in a month’s time when the season draws to a close. They slipped into the bottom three last weekend with a deeply frustrating 2-2 draw at home to Getafe. A goal and a man up, they had some golden opportunities to wrap the win up before conceding a 96th minute penalty which Jorge Molina converted to ensure Valladolid would be left with just a single point.
With neither side playing well, it’s not an easy match to call but Alaves have been strong at home over the course of the season and they look capable of getting back to winning ways here. The injury absence of Guillermo Maripan has been decisive in their poor run of form. The Chilean centre-back has excelled this season and should start here, having been judged only fit enough for the bench last time out in defeat at Espanyol.
Alaves have only lost 2 of their last 16 home league games, which is a measure of the task that Valladolid are faced with here. The visitors haven’t been great travellers since the turn of the year and have lost 5 of their last 6 on the road in La Liga. Their overall form is a concern too with just 2 wins in 17 league outings. With the division’s worst goal-scoring record, there’s an argument for saying that they are the worst team in the league, with Huesca and Rayo Vallecano beneath posing much more of an attacking threat.
Celta Vigo vs Girona
Estadio Abanca Balaidos, Vigo
Saturday, 20-04-2019 @2pm
The battle to stay in La Liga is really bubbling up now and this is one of many huge six-pointers that will take place between now and the end of the season. Girona lost one such match last weekend to be sucked back into the relegation scrap having looked totally safe in mid-table a few weeks back. They are now only 2 points above Celta Vigo in 17th so this is a game they really can’t afford to lose.
Girona have lost 4 on the spin heading into it. 3 of those games were at home and the main reason they are in any peril at all is the abysmal season they’ve had in front of their own fans. It’s just 1 point from 7 home league games for the Catalans but they have won at the Bernabeu since the turn of the year and there is clearly a decent team in there somewhere.
You could say the same about Celta Vigo who have plenty of quality going forward with Spanish internationals Iago Aspas and Braiz Mendez while Uruguayan striker Maxi Gomez has had another solid campaign. Aspas is the undoubted star though and it’s just 4 points from 12 games in his absence this term for Celta after they lost 2-0 at Atletico Madrid last time out with Aspas suspended.
He should be fresh to return here and that’s hugely significant. The one-time Liverpool flop has 15 league goals from just 20 starts this term. He netted 5 in 3 games on his return from injury prior to the Atleti suspension to fire his team to 7 points and a position of much more hope. Backing Aspas to score anytime here could be well worth a punt.
This is a game that is likely to see a few goals. Celta are very top heavy with all their best players forwards or wingers. Only four teams have scored more than them in La Liga this term which as much as anything tells you how bad their defence has been for them to be involved in this relegation scrap.
Girona’s star is also their striker Cristhian Stuani. He has scored over half of their league goals this term and they are a team with enough attacking quality to cause problems for this Celta defence. However Celta Vigo are a club that really believes again and they will look to take the game to the Catalans and will fancy they can get the victory, particularly with the visitors missing a few regulars.
Eibar vs Atletico Madrid
Estadio Municipal de Ipurua, Eibar
Saturday, 20-04-2019 @5:15pm
Atletico Madrid travel to Eibar this Saturday as they look to further tighten their grip on 2nd place in La Liga. They are involved in a private battle with their city rivals for an element of pride in the Spanish capital although both sides will be disappointed with how this season has panned out.
Eibar will be pretty happy with how their season has gone. Again they haven’t been in any sort of danger and the Basque minnows, whose natural standing on Spain’s football ladder is probably below even the second tier, are heading for a safe mid-table finish again. They come into this one following a 1-1 draw at Sociedad in a Basque derby last time out with Joan Jordan scoring a cracking free-kick for Eibar to continue his fine season.
Atleti can secure Champions League qualification this weekend but that isn’t really in doubt. They’ll be hoping to end the season on a high and at least make Barcelona wait to wrap up the title until as late a date as possible. Diego Simeone’s side responded to defeat at Camp Nou by beating Celta Vigo 2-0 at home and they’ll be looking to make it 4 wins from 5 in La Liga here.
Atleti are missing Diego Costa again but they do have Alvaro Morata available and he has made a bright start to life with Los Rojiblancos. He sealed the victory over Celta with his 4th goal in 5 games for club and country and does look to be over the disappointment of the end of his time in London. Backing Morata to score anytime could be worth considering.
Atletico Madrid are the favourites to win this game but not by the sort of margin you’d expect. That’s a little curious as while they’ve not had a brilliant season, they have only lost 5 league games. With no cup distractions now, they are able to focus fully on the run-in to La Liga and they were impressive 4-0 winners in the Basque Country against Alaves a few weeks back.
A performance on that level again ought to be enough to see off Eibar here. The hosts are a tough side to play against, particularly at Ipurua but it is just 4 wins in 20 in all competitions for them. All of those 4 wins came against bottom half sides so it’s a bit strange to see them as short as they are for the victory here.
It should also be pointed out that Atletico have a great record on this ground, winning on all of their 4 top flight visits.
Rayo Vallecano vs Huesca
Estadio de Vallecas, Madrid
Saturday, 20-04-2019 @7:30pm
This match may just offer both sides their final chance to mount the start of a dramatic survival act. Huesca head into this Saturday bottom of La Liga and 7 points from safety. Rayo Vallecano are only one place and two points better off. A draw is no use to either side here but defeat would all but relegate them so it’s sure to be a tense afternoon in Madrid.
Huesca have been playing pretty well but just not getting the results they need. They head into this one following 3 straight draws when they were desperate for wins. They held a youthful Barcelona side to a 0-0 draw last time out but for all their good play, a return of just 3 points from their last 6 games has been nowhere near good enough at this stage in the season.
Rayo have only got 4 points from their past 11 but there has been an improvement since Paco Jemez took charge. They beat Valencia 2-0 at home in their most recent home game before competing well but ultimately losing 3-2 at Athletic Bilbao. With matches against Sevilla and Real Madrid immediately following this, they simply have to claim maximum points from this game to stand any realistic chance of being in the hunt heading into the final few weeks.
Huesca didn’t get much of the ball against Barcelona but in their other recent games, they’ve really been committing bodies forward and taking risks. It’s likely to be a similar story here. Prior to the Barca game, all of Huesca’s previous 6 matches had seen both teams score and produced three or more goals in total.
Rayo have also made a shift to be more attacking under their new boss. 5 of their last 6 games have seen both teams score. 75% of their home league games this term have also produced goals at both ends of the pitch.
Given that, backing Over 2.5 Goals & Both Teams to Score appeals here.
Backing Raul De Tomas to score anytime could also be worth a punt. The Rayo striker is having a season to remember with 14 league goals, the same number as Antoine Griezmann has managed. He heads into this one having netted in 3 of his last 4 appearances.
Barcelona vs Real Sociedad
Estadio Camp Nou, Barcelona
Saturday, 20-04-2019 @9:45pm
Barcelona took another big step towards a possible treble in midweek and they will be expected to put 3 more points on the board in La Liga this weekend against Real Sociedad. The Basques have little left to play for heading into Saturday’s clash and don’t have many happy memories of trips to this ground.
They may be hoping for a weakened Barca team here but with no Champions League football next week that looks more doubtful. Barcelona have a 9 point cushion on Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga. Three more wins would clinch the title which means they could have it all wrapped up by the time of the Champions League Semis.
Real Sociedad aren’t in great form heading into this game and it’s hard to see them causing a shock. The Basques have managed just one win in eight league games and a host of injury problems have really derailed their European push. The best they can hope for now looks like a solid mid-table finish but they’d have fancied a bit more than that when they made a great start to life under Imanol.
La Real are slowly getting a few players back to fitness and they will have striker Willian Jose available here despite his recent red card. They were quite effective on the road in the early part of the season but come into this game having won just 1 of their last 10 away from home in all competitions. They were hammered 5-2 at Sevilla last month and even struggling Celta Vigo put 3 past them in their most recent away game.
Barcelona showed their class to ease past Manchester United in midweek and it may not be a vastly different team here. They put out a virtual reserve team in La Liga last weekend but with 2 games in 4 days, they have the chance to put the destiny of the title beyond doubt before most likely resting a host of players again next weekend against Levante.
Levante vs Espanyol
Estadio Ciudad de Valencia, Valencia
Sunday, 21-04-2019 @1pm
This is a huge game for Levante who are one of a number of sides who have been sucked into the relegation scrap. They could even be in the relegation zone by the time this kicks off depending on results in the other games. They’ll be hoping a home game against an Espanyol side with little left to play for is just what they need to get a much needed three points on the board as they try to stay in La Liga.
Levante have had a real season of two halves. They were flying high early on in the campaign but a sequence of just 3 points from their last 8 games and only 2 wins in 18 in La Liga has thrust them towards trouble. 4 of their final 6 matches are at home and this is certainly one of the most winnable.
Back-to-back victories have got Espanyol fans whispering about Europe again but it looks unlikely in truth. They are 5 points off 7th place and despite those wins, they don’t really look like a side that is going to put a longer winning sequence together. Rubi will be hoping to achieve as high a finish as possible as the Barcelona club start to look towards their summer plans.
This promises to be quite open. Levante don’t really have a strong enough defence to get themselves out of trouble by scraping a few 1-0 wins. In fact they have the worst defensive record in the division with 1.84 goals per game and 1.93 per game conceded at home. They do have a goal or two in them and multiple sources of where it could come from. The Valencia side have netted in 80% of their home league outings this term.
Those matches average 3.4 goals per game in total and we could see another relatively high-scoring one here. Espanyol may not be the most exciting team in the league but with survival guaranteed, they’ve no reason to come here and be negative. Victory would push them closer to the European battle and their recent games have been relatively entertaining with all of their last 3 seeing both teams score.
Getafe vs Sevilla
Coliseum Alfonso Perez, Getafe
Sunday, 21-04-2019 @3pm
This is a massive game in the race for 4th place in La Liga. Sevilla currently occupy it but they are only a point above surprise package Getafe with Valencia the only other team in with a realistic shot of snatching it. It’s not quite winner takes all here but three points would be a massive boost to either side.
Sevilla have really picked up since reappointing Joaquin Caparros in a caretaker capacity. They’ve won 4 out of 5 under the veteran coach to claim more points than any other team in La Liga over that period. There is speculation Caparros wants to continue next season, twenty years on from his first appointment as Sevilla boss. However his fate may lie in the hands of Monchi who has recently returned in a Sporting Director role.
As for Getafe, they’ve had a wonderful campaign and they’ve shown plenty of fighting spirit over the past couple of weeks that suggests they aren’t going to surrender easily in this battle for Champions League football. They claimed a hard-fought 1-0 win over Athletic in their last home game before scoring a 96th minute equaliser with ten men at Valladolid last time out.
The bookies make Sevilla the favourites to win this game. Their away form has picked up since the change in coach but their season average of 1.19 points per game on the road is still pretty poor for a side with Champions League ambitions and there’s plenty of reason to doubt their credentials in terms of winning this match.
Getafe by contrast average 1.87 points per game at home. They are a tough side to break down with the league’s third best defensive record. With the stakes so high, this could develop into quite a cagey affair and overall backing the Draw looks like the best move in the Full-Time Result market. In truth Sevilla would probably be content to leave with a point and hang on to 4th place heading into a busy week of action.
Real Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao
Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
Sunday, 21-04-2019 @5:15pm
This is one of the oldest fixtures on the Spanish football calendar but Athletic wins at the Bernabeu don’t come around too often any more. They will be underdogs again here but will at least sense there is a vulnerability to this Real Madrid side that they might be able to exploit in this Sunday’s fixture in La Liga.
It’s 10 points from 5 games so far for Real Madrid since reappointing Zinedine Zidane. Their latest match was a 1-1 draw at Leganes on Monday night and there is certainly an end of season feel to some of their games now. That draw saw them slip 4 points behind Atleti in the race for 2nd place and they now risk being the second team in the Spanish capital for the second season running.
Athletic Bilbao meanwhile are now really involved in the fight for the European places. They currently occupy 7th place which will almost certainly be good enough for Europa League football assuming Valencia don’t drop out of the top six and win the Copa del Rey. 7th does bring a very early start in the qualifying rounds though so Athletic would certainly love to sneak another place and seal direct passage to the group phase.
Victory here would aid their chances of that. They certainly look capable of being competitive but overall Real should have enough class to edge it. Los Blancos have won all 3 home games since Zinedine Zidane took over. Even in what has been a disastrous season overall, they’ve still won 69% of their home league games and defensively they’ve actually been very solid at home conceding only 0.69 goals per game.
Athletic have improved since appointing Gaizka Garitano but they’ve not been able to replicate their consistency at San Mames on the road. 3 of their last 5 away league games have ended in defeat and they still lack a bit of cutting edge up front at times, which could be a concern in a game like this where they are unlikely to get many chances.
Villarreal vs leganes
Estádio de la Ceramica, Villarreal
Sunday, 21-04-2019 @7:30pm
*Details to follow shortly
Real Betis vs Valencia
Estádio Benito Villamarin, Seville
Sunday, 21-04-2019 @9:45pm
*Details to follow shortly
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