Sevilla vs Leganes
Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Seville
Friday, 03-05-2019 @10pm
The Friday night game in La Liga this week comes from Seville. There isn’t an awful lot riding on it for visitors Leganes who have 42 points on the board and aren’t in any real danger of going down. Sevilla though are desperate for a win after a few recent hiccups have left them still outside the top four heading into the final three weeks of the season.
All three 4th place contenders lost last weekend so their 1-0 defeat at struggling Girona wasn’t ultimately as damaging as it might have been. They trail Getafe in 4th only by virtue of an inferior head-to-head record. With a trip to the Wanda Metropolitano to come next weekend, it’s vital they win here which would really ramp up the pressure on both Geta and Valencia who both play on Sunday.
Leganes meanwhile have the chance to rubber stamp their safety by winning this game. That could happen this weekend anyway if results go their way and they are on course for their best ever league finish. Victory here would actually lift them as high as 9th but the odds are stacked against them with Lega having gone 5 without a win now.
They failed to even create a clear goalscoring opportunity last weekend at home against a Celta defence that is amongst the worst in the division. A trip to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan is clearly much tougher and despite a strong overall campaign, Leganes don’t have a great away record. 59% of their road matches this season in La Liga have ended in defeat and without much left to play, motivation could become a bit of a factor in their final few games.
Sevilla will see this as a good game to have at this key time in the season for them. They’ve been strong at home since the return of Joaquin Caparros and have won 4 of their last 5 home league games. They average 2.12 points per game at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan this season, easily the 4th best record and they also average an impressive 2.18 goals per home game.
Levante vs Rayo Vallecano
Estadio Cuidad de Valencia
Saturday, 04-05-2019 @2pm
This is a simply massive football game at the wrong end of La Liga with the top flight futures of both Levante and Rayo Vallecano in doubt heading into it. The visitors are in much greater peril and may need to win all three of their remaining matches to stay up. Levante would hit the 40 point mark if they can win this game but anything less would leave them in serious trouble heading into the final two match-days.
Levante dealt their survival hopes a much needed boost when they hammered Betis 4-0 in their most recent home game. They gave a pretty good account of themselves at Camp Nou last time out too, only going down 1-0 as the Catalans were crowned champions. They now have back-to-back games against relegation rivals but this is their most obvious chance to pick up the victory they may need to keep them in La Liga.
Rayo Vallecano looked down and out when they were hammered 5-0 by Sevilla in their most recent road game. However they bounced back 3 days later to record their first win over city rivals Real Madrid in 22 years with a deserved victory at Vallecas. They are still 9 points shy of the magic 40 figure but their final 3 games are all against direct relegation rivals so a great escape is not completely implausible now.
With both sides really needing to win this game, it has the potential to be quite open and a few goals look likely. Levante have been one of the most entertaining sides to watch in Spain this term and their home fixtures have been particularly good with 3.47 goals per game on average. 6 of their last 7 league outings have produced 4 or more goals with the only exception being the trip to Camp Nou where they changed their usual formation and played with much greater caution.
That’s unlikely here and they should enjoy the space Rayo are likely to offer them with the visitors with little choice but to target the win. These are also the two teams with the worst defensive records in the division. Both have conceded 62 league goals already, 5 more than the next worst team.
Espanyol vs Atletico Madrdi
RCDE Stadium, Barcelona
Saturday, 04-05-2019 @5:15pm
It won’t be a particularly dramatic end to the season for either Espanyol or Atletico Madrid and there’s not a great deal at stake here. That said, Atletico can seal 2nd place and a finish above city rivals Real for the second season running with a point here. The hosts meanwhile need victory to keep their slim European hopes alive but in truth they look out of contention now.
It might have been different had they not failed to convert leads into victories in each of their last 3 matches. The latest setback came on Monday night when they conceded a Stoppage Time leveller at Real Betis. Rubi can at least reflect on a 6 game unbeaten streak so they do take reasonable overall form into this match.
Atletico Madrid to their credit have made Barcelona win the title on the pitch. They could easily have handed it to them on a plate had they slipped up in any of their recent games but Atleti have reeled off 4 straight victories since losing at Camp Nou. They now find themselves 9 points behind Barcelona but 9 points ahead of Real Madrid with only 3 games to go. Atleti have an inferior head-to-head record in both cases which is why the title has been won and why they still need a point to guarantee 2nd.
Any season where Atleti finish above Real Madrid can’t be viewed as a disaster in the red and white half of the Spanish capital. However they have never really delivered on their potential this season after a very encouraging summer with some major acquisitions. Too many draws on the road has been one reason why they’ve struggled to live with Barca and a 41% away win ratio isn’t good enough for a side looking to compete for the title.
Espanyol are capable of denting that further here. Despite a mid-season blip, they’ve been pretty strong at home throughout the campaign. Only six teams in the Spanish top flight can better their return of 1.76 points per home game. They’ve only suffered one defeat in their last seven at the RCDE Stadium which suggests they are well over their winter woes and they will see a result as a real possibility here.
Deportivo Alaves vs Real Sociedad
Estadio de Mendizorroza, Vitoria Gastiez
Saturday, 04-05-2019 @7:30pm
There’s another Basque derby this Saturday in La Liga as Alaves take on Real Sociedad. The hosts are battling to maintain their European hopes and victory would move them level on points with Athletic Club in 7th, what’s almost certain to be the final Europa League position. Sociedad though would move level on points with Alaves were they to win this game.
La Real are most likely too far back though to seriously get involved in what has become an all Basque battle for Spain’s final European place. A recent poor run has made sure of that and they come into this game having only won 2 of their last 11 in La Liga. One of those victories did come last time out though when they beat high-flying Getafe 2-1 at the Anoeta.
Alaves’ last game was also a Basque derby as they held Athletic at San Mames. It was a decent result but still leaves them playing catch-up in that battle for 7th and Alaves’ overall form suggests they stand little chance of getting it. They’ve gone 7 without a win heading into this match. The departure of their coach Abelardo has also been announced amidst some turmoil behind the scenes in Vitoria with the 49 year old rejecting a new deal leading to the club to announcing his exit in somewhat bizarre circumstances.
Abelardo may well wind up at Real Betis next season but if the recent results are anything to go by, the off-field stuff hasn’t helped this Alaves side which has perhaps over-achieved this season. They really need to win this game so some of their usual caution may be thrown aside and this has the potential to be relatively open.
Alaves haven’t been as solid defensively in recent weeks in any case. They’ve gone 10 matches without a clean sheet now, another major factor in their loss of form. 4 of their last 5 matches have seen both teams score and they should be able to ask questions from the flanks in this one.
8 of Sociedad’s last 9 games have also produced goals at each end. Their form has been a bit patchy but they do have the makings of a good side and in Willian Jose, Juanmi and Mikel Oyarzabal they do have goals in their team. The latter has had a brilliant season with 13 league goals. 8 of them have come since the start of February so he has been in a rich vein of form in front of goal of late and backing Oyarzabal to score anytime could be worth a punt in this one.
Celta Vigo vs Barcelona
Abanca Balaidos, Vigo
Saturday, 04-05-2019 @9:45pm
Barcelona were crowned champions of Spain last weekend and took another huge step towards the treble in midweek by beating Liverpool 3-0 at Camp Nou in the Champions League. A very different side is expected to take to the field at Balaidos on Saturday though. Celta Vigo are battling for their lives and the bookies make them the favourites to win this game and edge closer to survival in La Liga.
Ernesto Valverde is doing an excellent job in Barcelona and while it may not always be appreciated, the results are beginning to speak for themselves. They wrapped up the most comfortable of title wins last weekend and they’ve certainly earned the right to rotate here although it’s unlikely to go down particularly well with the other sides at the bottom. Even with a 3-0 advantage, they will still be a bit nervous about the trip to Anfield and will be determined to head there in the best possible shape.
Celta Vigo picked up a point at Leganes last weekend but they remain very much in the thick of the relegation scrap. The Balaidos crowd is sure to make this a hostile environment for the newly crowned champions and they’ve been arriving early in recent weeks to cheer the team bus on its way to the stadium. It has done the trick too with Celta winning their last 3 at home however they are still only just outside the relegation zone heading into this one.
The team news here is very important for both sides. Celta’s key man Iago Aspas is expected to shake off a shoulder problem or at the very least play with injections and he has been inspired since his return from a more serious injury. The hometown hero has fired in 6 goals in 6 games with 5 in his last 3 at Balaidos. Backing Aspas to score anytime could be worth a punt here.
His presence also increases the chances of this being a relatively high scoring game and Celta generally have been an entertaining watch this season. Only five sides have scored more goals than them but only two have conceded more and they are sure to take the game to what is certain to be a much weakened Barcelona side.
The Catalans drew at Huesca a few weeks back with a youthful side but this will be a much more intense and much tougher test for their emerging players and Celta look capable of causing big problems for a defence that won’t feature the likes of Gerard Pique.
Getafe vs Girona
Coliseuim Alfonso Perez, Getafe
Sunday, 05-05-2019 @1pm
This is a massive game for both Getafe and Girona. The hosts are looking to ensure they are in 4th place and pole position to secure Champions League football heading into the final fortnight of the season in La Liga. Girona meanwhile are battling just to stay in it and three points this Sunday would be a massive lift for them.
Getafe are in a three-way battle with Sevilla and Valencia for that final Champions League position. They may feel as though they missed a great opportunity to really edge ahead last time out though. With the other two sides having lost earlier in the day, Getafe failed to make them pay as they slipped to a rare away defeat at the hands of Real Sociedad. With a trip to Camp Nou to come next weekend, it’s vital they win this match.
Girona meanwhile finally stopped the rot in their last match. Having lost 6 on the bounce, they did Geta a favour by beating Sevilla 1-0 at Montilivi. The result lifted them out of the bottom three but they hold just a 2 point advantage on Valladolid in 18th heading into this game and there is still plenty of work to be done before they can start planning for another season in the top flight.
Overall, the hosts look the more likely victors here. After 35 games, it’s hard to ignore the league table and Getafe are good value for their top six status this term. They aren’t always easy on the eye but they are very strong defensively with only Atletico Madrid having conceded fewer goals in the Spanish top flight. They are also strong at home with an impressive 59% home win ratio. They come into this one having won 8 of their last 10 home matches in all competitions.
Girona meanwhile have lost their last 3 on the road, having been reasonably good travellers before that. Their victory last weekend was a much needed boost but the goals have really dried up for them with just 3 scored in their last 6 matches. Cristhian Stuani has scored over half of their goals this term but he has gone 4 without netting and the Getafe central defence is well equipped to deal with his aerial threat.
Eibar vs Real Betis
Estadio Municipal de Ipurua, Eibar
Sunday, 05-05-2019 @3pm
A season that had so much promise has unravelled for Real Betis. Boss Quique Setien has been jeered loudly for several games now by the club’s fans and a change is expected in the summer. He will take Betis to the Basque Country this Sunday though as they take on an Eibar side that is targeting a top half finish in La Liga.
The Basques hadn’t been in the best of form either, taking just 1 point from 4 league outings before their trip to the Mestalla last time out. However a late goal from Charles sealed a shock 1-0 win, just their second away from home all season. At Ipurua they’ve generally been much more assured and they will fancy this against an out of sorts Betis side.
Betis at least ended a 3 game losing streak last time out with a Stoppage Time goal of their own to rescue a point at home to Espanyol. It didn’t stop the Betis fans calling for their coach to go at Full-Time but it looks as though Setien will hold his position until at least the summer. Betis are now out of realistic European contention and a mid-table finish is about as good as it can get.
Overall, the hosts look the more likely victors here. Betis capitulated 4-0 at Levante in their most recent away game. They’ve lost 56% of their league fixtures in 2019, which is a really poor return. Things were expected to pick up a bit when they were knocked out of both cups in quick succession in February but that really hasn’t happened and they look like a side that no longer fully believes in Setien’s relentless possession game.
Eibar will be a lot more direct and get lots of crosses into the box, a tactic that worked for Leganes in their recent 3-0 win over Betis. Eibar have won 4 of their last 7 home games in La Liga and Ipurua has been something of a fortress again for them with the minnows taking 1.71 points per game in front of their own fans this term.
Real Madrid vsVillarreal
Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
Sunday, 05-05-2019 @5:15pm
Sunday’s game at the Bernabeu sees Real Madrid play host to Villarreal in La Liga. Los Blancos are coasting towards the end of the season in truth and are heading for a disappointing 3rd place finish. Villarreal meanwhile still have a bit of work to do to guarantee their safety but they may feel as though they already have enough points on the board now having hit the magic 40 figure last week.
The Yellow Submarine reached that mark with a 1-1 home draw against Huesca last time out. That brought to an end a 3 game winning streak which had really fired them away from trouble but they won’t be able to totally relax until relegation is mathematically impossible. They can take a bit of confidence into this game though having taken 4 points from their last 2 league visits to the Bernabeu.
Real Madrid’s season plunged to fresh depths with a terrible performance and 1-0 defeat away to bottom club Rayo Vallecano last time out. They’ve now won just 1 of their last 4 in La Liga and Zinedine Zidane’s return hasn’t really lifted any of the gloom that has hovered over their season. There hasn’t even been a sense of players trying to prove their worth ahead of an expected summer shake-up and both players and supporters now seem hungry just for this season to finish.
Real Madrid have at least been getting the job done at home of late though. They’ve won all four home matches since the return of Zidane and cruised to a 3-0 victory against an in-form Athletic Bilbao side last time out at the Bernabeu. They are missing one or two players here but there is still a huge amount of quality in the squad and that should be enough to see off struggling opposition.
Los Blancos do have a 71% home win ratio this term in La Liga which isn’t terrible by any means but it hasn’t been sufficient to keep pace with the two sides above them. Villarreal have had an equally poor season and they have lost 3 of their last 5 competitive away fixtures despite an overall upturn in form.
Real Valladolid vs Athletic Bilbao
Estádio Municipal Jose Zorrilla, Valadolid
Sunday, 05-05-2019 @7:30pm
This Sunday’s game is a massive one for Real Valladolid who are fighting against relegation to the Segunda Division. Unfortunately for them, opponents Athletic Bilbao are also playing for more than pride with European qualification their objective now. Therefore it’s one of the biggest games of the weekend in La Liga and plenty of other teams besides these two will be keeping a close eye on it.
Valladolid currently occupy 18th place having slipped back into the drop-zone as a result of their 1-0 away defeat against Atletico Madrid last time out. They felt they were on the wrong end of some poor decisions in that game though and they are certainly fighting for every ball right now having gone 3 matches unbeaten prior to that. They’ve had to deal with plenty of injury problems though which has further depleted a squad that is short on genuine top flight quality.
Athletic were held at home by Alaves last time out. They’d have all but sealed European qualification had they won that game. However it was still a pretty good weekend for them with the 3 sides above them all losing. Athletic currently look to be heading for 7th but would love to climb another place which would most likely give them direct entry into the Europa League group stage as opposed to an early start in July in the Qualifying Rounds.
This certainly doesn’t have the makings of a classic. Athletic’s success since the change in coach has come about largely by improving defensively but they are still a bit short on genuine goal threats with Inaki Williams their only consistent scorer this season and he’s more of a makeshift striker than a predator.
He’s a big jump in class on anything Valladolid have though. The strugglers are La Liga’s lowest scorers with an average of just 0.83 goals per game this term and they’ve managed 0.88 per game at home. 66% of their matches have produced two or fewer goals.
Huesca vs Valencia
Estadio El Alcoraz, Huesca
Sunday, 05-05-2019 @9:45pm
This is the final game this weekend in La Liga. By the time it starts, Huesca will have a clearer picture of what they need to do to take their fight for survival into next weekend. Whatever happens in the other games, they will be relegated if they lose this though. Valencia will be in merciless mood however as they aim to further their own top four ambitions.
Their hopes of reaching next season’s Champions League now look more likely to come down to finishing 4th in La Liga after they lost 3-1 at Arsenal in the 1st Leg of their Europa League Semi-Final on Thursday. They were minutes away from going back to the Mestalla with just a 2-1 deficit and it’s certainly a big ask for them now next week and it’ll be interesting to see whether they opt to rest any players here.
There may be some light rotation which could aid Huesca’s chances to some extent but Valencia can’t afford to mess around too much. Huesca may be bottom but they are no mugs and actually come into this game unbeaten in 6 league outings. They salvaged a point late on against Villarreal last time out and 5 of their last 6 matches have finished level. If they’d just managed to convert a couple of those draws into wins, they’d still be in with a real chance of staying up but it’s looking almost impossible now.
They’ve shown no sign of going down with a whimper though and they look capable of getting something from this game. They average a very respectable 1.56 points per home game since the turn of the year and some of their football is certainly befitting of this stage. They’ve not been a clinical enough but they are certainly a side that should create chances in this match.
There is likely to be some fatigue in the Valencia camp as they make their way back from London to the small Aragonese town. It’s a quick turnaround and not the easiest of journeys and there will be a concern that Valencia could put in another flat display as happened when they lost 2-0 at second bottom Rayo Vallecano a few weeks back. The games are mounting up but Valencia head into this on the back of a three game losing streak having also lost at home to Eibar in La Liga last weekend.
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