Atletico Madrid vs Girona
Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid
Tuesday, 02-04-2019 @8:30pm
Atletico Madrid return to action at the Wanda Metropolitano this Tuesday with Girona the visitors in La Liga. It’s a fixture that has been played out five times in all competitions since Girona won promotion to the top flight in 2017. All five meetings have been drawn with the Catalans knocking Atleti out of the Copa del Rey in January so it’s fair to say they are something of a bogey team for Diego Simeone’s men.
After a difficult few weeks, Atletico Madrid put in an excellent display at the weekend. They won 4-0 away to 5th placed Alaves to suggest there is still some life in this side despite suggestions they are approaching the end of an era. A summer of change does look likely but they’ll keep fighting and were they to win this and then again at Camp Nou at the weekend, they could at least make the title race a fraction more interesting over the final weeks.
That’s a really big ask though and if recent history is anything to go by, there’s no guarantee they will even win this match. Girona clearly enjoy playing against Atletico and they tend to enjoy playing away in general. They’ve only won twice at home all season but have won their last 3 on the road in La Liga, including victory in Madrid at the Bernabeu.
They scored 3 on their last visit to the Wanda Metropolitano in January to knock Atleti out of the Copa del Rey. That should give them some confidence heading into this game but Atletico will be keen to finally inflict defeat on Girona. Their performance at the weekend suggests they are well capable of netting at least twice here.
With Antoine Griezmann out wide and Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata playing through the middle, it was a slightly more adventurous Atleti than we’ve been used to seeing and it appeared to work. Both strikers scored along with Saul and Thomas Partey and there is a sense that Atleti may just have stumbled upon a line-up that offers greater attacking threat without weakening them too much at the other end.
With not a great deal at stake now, Simeone may give this system a few further run-outs as he looks to better make use of the attacking talent he does possess. Girona do have some defensive flaws and they’ve conceded two or more in 6 of their last 10 league fixtures so it’s hard to seriously fancy them here despite a strong overall away record.
Espanyol vs Getafe
RCDE Stadium Barcelona
Tuesday, 02-04-2019 @9:30pm
Despite a weekend defeat, Getafe remain in 4th place heading into the midweek action in La Liga. They can stretch their advantage on 5th placed Alaves to 5 points with victory this Tuesday away to an Espanyol side that are hoping to avoid being sucked into the relegation battle. Both sides are hoping to bounce back from weekend derby losses.
Espanyol’s was largely to be expected. They put up a decent fight at Camp Nou but ultimately succumbed to two goals in the Second Half from Leo Messi. A season that started so brightly has petered out to a large extent. A couple more wins would take them to 40 points which should keep them in La Liga but any talk of a late push for Europe looks unlikely now.
Getafe’s weekend loss meanwhile came very much out of the blue. They were beaten 2-0 at home by South Madrid rivals Leganes, their first ever defeat against their nearest neighbours in the top flight. It couldn’t have come at much worse a time either with Getafe in with a real chance of securing a historic Champions League qualification.
The bookies make the hosts the favourites but there is strong reason to expect Getafe to get a result from this game. They’ve been much the more impressive side overall this term and their away record is excellent. They’ve not been beaten away to anyone outside of the top three. Indeed it’s just 2 defeats in 18 away league games overall, an excellent record by anyone’s standards.
Espanyol meanwhile continue to flatter to deceive to some extent. Their Chinese signing Wu Lei has generated plenty of headlines and media attention and has performed pretty well but has only managed one goal so far. The goals have dried up a bit for Borja Iglesias too after a fine start to the season and they will struggle to create much against this solid Geta back four.
A huge 60% of Getafe’s away league games this season have finished level and they have just tended to lack that creative spark to turn one point into three at times. Given 4 of Espanyol’s last 8 matches also ended all square.
Villarreal vs Barcelona
Estadio de la Ceramica, Villarreal
Tuesday, 02-04-2019 @10:30pm
There’s little now that stands in the way of Barcelona and another Spanish league title. However this could be one of their toughest remaining tests against surprise strugglers Villarreal. The Yellow Submarine are just one point above the drop-zone however they have been in much more impressive overall form of late and should be able to take some confidence into Tuesday’s match in La Liga.
That said, their 2nd Half performance in Vigo on Sunday won’t inspire much belief. They surrendered a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 in a crunch game at the bottom. They’d have been 7 points above the relegation places had they won that so it was a massive turnaround. With Celta playing Huesca this week, Villarreal could well find themselves back in the bottom three unless they can spring a surprise here.
Their chances are aided by the likelihood that Barcelona will rotate their team. They already have one eye on next Wednesday’s trip to Old Trafford in the Champions League. Ernesto Valverde won’t really want to take too many chances with his selection on Saturday against Atletico Madrid and he named a full-strength team in the derby win over Espanyol on Saturday. Therefore it seems almost inevitable that this will be the game where he rests some key men to avoid burnout, which contributed to Barca’s demise in the last eight of the Champions League last season.
That gives the home team a degree of hope. Villarreal have tended to do better when the pressure has been off this season anyway. They’ve excelled in the Europa League, cruising into the Quarter-Finals all whilst battling relegation in La Liga. A match where they aren’t expected to get a result may just help ease the tension and they have got enough talent in their locker to cause problems for Barcelona.
Villarreal had actually won 4 on the spin in all competitions prior to their 2nd Half demise in Galicia and they have been playing better overall. They are offering greater threat in the final third now with Karl Toko Ekambi starting to settle. The Cameroon international scored 17 in Ligue 1 last term for Angers and with 3 in his last 2 games, backing Toko Ekambi to score anytime could be worth a punt here as his pace should cause problems.
Athletic Bilbao vs Levante
Estadio San Mames Barria, Bilbao
Wednesday, 03-04-2019 @8:30pm
This Wednesday’s clash in La Liga comes from the Basque Country. Athletic Bilbao are making a strong charge up the table and victory here will really push them into European contention, something that looked impossible earlier this term. Levante meanwhile are only 4 points above the drop-zone now and they could do with pulling an away performance out of the bag, something they have managed at times this term.
They may come to seriously regret their failure to hang onto 3 points against Eibar at the weekend. They let a 2-1 lead slip to draw 2-2 with Sergi Enrich levelling the game 12 minutes from time. With Villarreal and perhaps now Celta Vigo looking resurgent below them, this could yet be a very nervy end to the season for Paco Lopez’s Levante side.
Athletic were also viewed as possible relegation candidates earlier in the season but they do now have 40 points on the board. Therefore talk of a first ever relegation can be postponed and they’d be level on points with the likes of Valencia and Sevilla were they to win this, an incredible turnaround under Gaizka Garitano.
They still haven’t been scoring a huge number of goals though. Only two sides have worse records than their average of 1.03 goals per game. They play mostly with Inaki Williams up top but he is better with space to run into. Levante’s usual tactic is to sit very deep and play on the break whenever they play away and that could be a real source of frustration to Williams, who recently went over two years without scoring a home goal.
Athletic should be able to cope with most of what Levante have to offer though. The visitors are missing Enis Bardhi to suspension which greatly reduces their chances of nicking a goal from a set-piece given the Macedonian is a dead-ball specialist. They’ve failed to score in 5 of their last 7 away games in all competitions and up against an Athletic side that has a 47% home clean sheet ratio, you can certainly see the Basques keeping a clean sheet here.
Eibar vs Rayo Vallecano
Estadio Municipal de Ipurua, Eibar
Wednesday, 03-04-2019 @9:30pm
This Wednesday’s La Liga clash between Eibar and Rayo Vallecano is a vital one for the visitors. The Madrid club are in deep trouble now with 5 points separating them and safety with 9 games to go. They simply need to start winning a few games even when they aren’t expected to do so if they are to beat the drop.
Paco Jemez returned to the role he departed in 2016 last time out. He at least ended Rayo’s 7 game losing streak however a point at home to Betis did little to move them clear of trouble. They’ve not won since a 1-0 victory in the Basque Country against Alaves in January and they will be hoping for something similar here as they look to stage a dramatic late escape act.
Eibar are sitting comfortably in 11th. Victory here would just about guarantee them another season at this level which still has to be viewed as an achievement given they are still operating on one of La Liga’s smallest budgets. They’ve only lost 3 of their 15 league games since losing at Rayo earlier in the campaign but there have been a lot of draws which has made it tough for them to push towards the European places.
Overall, this game promises to be quite open. A draw isn’t much use to Rayo and they do have a very attacking coach at the helm now so they are likely to come looking for 3 points. Eibar will certainly be doing that so we could see a pretty open contest unfold.
Neither of these sides fully convince defensively. Rayo have let in 1.79 goals per game on average, the worst record in the division. They do have a goal in them though and 62% of their league games this season have produced goals at each end. Their main threat is still Raul De Tomas. He was on target again at the weekend and with 12 goals in 25 league starts this season, there looks to be value in backing De Tomas to score anytime here.
60% of Eibar’s home league games have also seen both teams score. They’ve scored in a huge 93% of those matches so it’s hard to see them not breaching this weak Rayo defence at least once. However they do have a tendency for slipping up against the poorer sides with Real Valladolid and Huesca having already won at Ipurua this term.
If they lose here, they will have lost at home to all three promoted teams whilst losing just one of their other 13 home fixtures.
Huesca vs Celta Vigo
Estadio El Alcoraz, Huesca
Thursday, 03-04-2019 @9:30pm
This is a massive game at the bottom end of La Liga for both clubs. Huesca are almost at last chance saloon now and they quite simply have to win this game you feel if they are to stand any chance of beating the drop. Celta Vigo meanwhile are hoping to build on a miraculous turnaround in an equally vital weekend fixture.
At Half-Time at home to Villarreal, they were 2-0 down and on course to be 7 points behind their opponents and 5 from safety. However a stunning comeback sparked by two goals from the returning Iago Aspas secured a 3-2 victory and leaves them with a chance to move out of the drop-zone here. The win was their first under Fran Escriba and it was no coincidence that it came in the first game since the turn of the year that they’ve been able to field Iago Aspas in the starting eleven.
As for Huesca, they almost pulled off a huge upset at the Bernabeu on Sunday night. They had chances to go 3-2 up late on but ultimately succumbed to a late strike from Karim Benzema. It was a good performance from the minnows but ultimately it’s only really results that matter at this stage in the season. They are currently 7 points from safety with 9 games to play and having lost their last 3, they simply have to stop the rot here.
With both sides really needing to win this game, this really could be quite open despite the high stakes. Neither side are great defensively so the potential for goals certainly exists.
Huesca have already started to roll the dice a bit. Even at 2-2, they were going for the winner away to Real Madrid when under any normal circumstances a draw would have been a stunning result. All of their last 5 games have seen both teams score and worryingly for them, they’ve conceded in 93% of their home league fixtures this term.
Celta meanwhile have conceded in 93% of their away games. 71% of those matches produced goals at each end though and for a struggling side they have some fantastic attacking options with Iago Aspas and Maxi Gomez a strikeforce that is capable of firing them to safety.
Valencia vs Real Madrid
Estadio Mestalla, Valencia
Wednesday, 03-04-2019 @10:30pm
This Wednesday’s game represents the biggest test to date of Zinedine Zidane’s second spell as Real Madrid boss. They travel to an in-form Valencia side who are hoping to make progress in their bid to seal 4th place in La Liga and with it Champions League football next term.
Real have won both matches back under Zidane to date, although both were at home against relegation threatened sides. They made hard work of Huesca on Sunday, only winning 3-2 late on thanks to a Karim Benzema strike. Zidane’s team selections have caused more headlines than the actual performances so far in truth. Sunday saw him pick son Luca in goal and youngster Brahim Diaz in attack. However there was again no place for Sergio Reguilón, who has lost his place to Marcelo who has had a pretty disastrous season while the equally out of form Gareth Bale again failed to take his chance.
A trip to the Mestalla represents a real test for Real with Valencia enjoying a record breaking unbeaten streak of 16 matches in all competitions. Even during the glory years under Rafa Benitez in the early 2000’s they couldn’t achieve that despite twice winning La Liga. Their latest success came courtesy of a vital 1-0 win at fellow 4th place hopefuls Sevilla on Sunday and they are now right in the frame for Champions League qualification.
Overall, Valencia look well capable of getting at least a point here. Real Madrid have lost twice as many league games this season as Marcelino’s side. The fact Valencia are 14 points worse off tells you how many games they’ve been drawing but they become a bit more clinical in recent weeks, winning 5 of their last 7 in all competitions.
Los Blancos meanwhile put in a pretty sloppy display against Huesca and there doesn’t really seem to be any continuity there in terms of selection or performance. Zidane seems content to experiment but they simply aren’t playing well enough to confidently back to go and win at a tough ground like the Mestalla, let alone with Valencia in this kind of form.
Sevilla vs Deportivo Alavés
Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Seville
Thursday, 04-04-2019 @8:30pm
This is another big game in the race for 4th placed in La Liga between two of the main four hopefuls to secure it. Sevilla are the favourites to get it despite a damaging home loss to Valencia at the weekend. However they are still a point and two places beneath Alaves heading into this one.
Leganes vs Real Valladolid
Estádio Municipal de Butarque, Leganes
Thursday, 04-04-2019 @9:30pm
Real Valladolid are in the thick of the relegation battle heading into this Thursday’s match in La Liga. They were left frustrated by some VAR calls at the weekend and they are desperate to get something from this game as they bid to extend their stay in the top flight into a second season. Leganes meanwhile now look pretty safe after an excellent weekend win.
Real Sociedad vs Real Betis
Estádio Municipal de Anoeta, San Sebastian
Thursday, 04-04-2019 @10:30pm
The final midweek game in La Liga comes from San Sebastian where Real Sociedad play host to Real Betis this Thursday. Just 3 points separate the sides who have already met 3 times this term having been paired together in the Copa del Rey. Betis won that tie although both legs were drawn including an entertaining 2-2 draw in the 2nd Leg at the Anoeta which ensured the Andalusians progressed.
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