Osasuna vs Real Betis
Estadio El Sadar, Irunea
Friday, 20-09-2019 @10pm
Friday night’s La Liga action comes from Estadio El Sadar, as last season’s Segunda champions Osasuna take on Real Betis in Pamplona. The hosts have made an unbeaten start to life back in La Liga and will be confident they can extend that record here against a Betis side who have lost five of their last seven on the road.
Despite dominating much of the game and hitting the woodwork twice, it looked as though Osasuna were going to be handed their first defeat of the season by Valladolid at the weekend when Pablo Hervias hit a monster of a free-kick past Ruben 65 minutes in.
But Los Rojillos are an extremely resolute outfit, as typified by their comeback to draw 2-2 with Barcelona before the international break, and they did the same here as Robert Ibanez’ tap in nine minutes from time ensured that Osasuna left Jose Zorrilla with a share of the points, which was the least they deserved.
As a result, Osasuna go into this Friday’s encounter against Betis 9th in the La Liga table with six points on the board, following a win and three draws so far. Victory over Los Verdiblancos at El Sadar would temporarily lift Jagoba Arrasate’s men into 2nd place ahead of the remaining weekend fixtures and that will undoubtedly spur on the hosts to get another positive result.
Los Rojillos are narrow favourites for the win, based on a combination of their solid start to the campaign, their tremendous form at El Sadar and Betis’ recent struggles on the road.
Osasuna went unbeaten at home throughout their promotion winning campaign, bagging 19 victories from 21 starts and keeping 14 clean sheets. Subsequent home draws in La Liga against Eibar and Barcelona have cemented El Sadar’s status as something of a fortress, which Betis will find mightily difficult to breach on Match-day 5.
A 2-1 victory over Leganes and a 1-1 draw with Getafe at Benito Villamarin mean that Betis have somewhat recovered from back to back defeats against Valladolid (1-2) and Barcelona (5-2) in the first two weeks of the season, although there are huge question marks hanging over Los Verdiblancos in terms of their form outside of Andalusia.
The aforementioned defeat to Barca was Betis’ fifth in their last seven away La Liga matches and the only win gained in that time came against a Real Madrid team who had nothing to play for at the back end of 2018/19.
Betis have plenty of quality in their squad to start turning things around on their travels, but this Friday’s stern test at Osasuna may prove beyond them, as new boss Rubi continues to try and implement a new style of play, which has so far left Betis looking woefully exposed to the counter attack.
Villarreal vs Real Valladolid
Estadio de la Ceramica, Villarreal
Saturday, 21-09-2019 @2pm
Villarreal have failed to score in their last three La Liga encounter against Valladolid, losing twice, but El Submarino Amarillo are fancied to the tables on Pucela this weekend following an emphatic victory at Leganes last weekend. Javier Calleja’s side have clearly taken plenty of confidence from their 2-2 draw against Real Madrid before the international break and should have too much for a Valladolid side who have gone backwards since their 1-1 draw against Madrid on Matchday 2.
It was a massive victory for Villarreal at the weekend and the result lifted El Submarino Amarillo into mid-table where they sit alongside Valladolid and Alaves on five points.
Javier Calleja’s side were unsurprisingly good going forward throughout their 0-3 success as Gerard Moreno hit a brace, but the most pleasing aspect for Calleja will have been the clean sheet after the concession of eight goals in the first three league matches.
Calleja will be demanding another shut out this Saturday lunchtime following just one clean sheet in Villarreal’s last eight La Liga games at Estadio de la Ceramica, and that’s a distinct possibility based on how poorly Valladolid have played in their last two outings.
Sergio’s side began the campaign with a fine 1-2 win at Betis and a superb 1-1 draw against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, but they have subsequently been below par in a 2-0 at Levante and a 1-1 home draw against Osasuna last weekend.
Valladolid were outplayed for large parts of the game at Jose Zorrilla by last season’s Segunda champions and only hit the front courtesy of a stunning free-kick from Pablo Hervias. They were deservedly pegged back by Los Rojillos nine minutes from time and were arguably fortunate not to lose the contest as Osasuna hit the woodwork twice during the first half.
Whilst the visitors will be spurred on this Saturday by their 0-1 success at Estadio de la Ceramica last term, recent form certainly suggests that they will come up short against a Villarreal team who are by contrast at the start of an upward curve.
Levante vs Eibar
Estadio Cuidad de Valencia
Saturday, 21-09-2019 @5pm
Levante battled back well from being 3-0 down against Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu last weekend, but goals from Borja Mayoral and Melero ultimately weren’t enough to rescue a point for Granotas, who have now lost ten of their last 13 La Liga matches on the road. Fortunately for Levante, they return to Ciudad de Valencia this weekend where they are unbeaten in eight outings, winning four of their last five.
Levante are, unsurprisingly then, favourites to land the spoils on Matchday 5 against an Eibar side who have won just one of their last 18 away La Liga games, losing nine. The latest of those disappointments came before the international break as Los Armeros blew a two goal advantage against Atletico Madrid at Wanda Metropolitano, and they fluffed a lead once more on Matchday 4 as Espanyol ran out 1-2 winners at Ipurua Municipal Stadium.
Eibar finished in a fairly secure 12th place last term however signs of struggle were there in the final third of the campaign. Jose Luis Mendilibar’s side won just three of their last 12 games in 2018/19 and results have worsened so far this season, with just a single point gained from Los Armeros’ first four league outings.
Results mean that Eibar are 19th in the early La Liga standings heading into this Saturday’s game, but they are already three points adrift of the safety line. With a difficult home assignment against Sevilla coming up on Matchday 6, Eibar desperately need a positive result in this weekend’s encounter to relieve growing pressure around the club.
Levante are proving themselves to be an accomplished outfit at Ciudad de Valencia though and an extremely formidable side going forward. In their aforementioned eight match unbeaten run at home, Granotas have netted at least twice in each of those games, including when beating Villarreal (2-1) and Valladolid (2-0) this season.
Confidence is clearly flowing through Paco Lopez’ charges in front of their own supporters and they look a cracking bet at odds-against this Saturday to maintain their 100% home record this season – especially after such a resolute performance against Madrid last time out.
Atletico Madrid vs Celta Vigo
Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid
Saturday, 21-09-2019 @7:30pm
After notching a perfect three wins from three prior to the international break, Atletico Madrid were fancied to overcome Real Sociedad at Anoeta on Matchday 4 but left San Sebastian empty handed as Txuri-urdinak ran out deserved 2-0 winners.
Diego Simeone’s side turned in a much better display at home to Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday evening as they rallied from 0-2 down to draw 2-2 against the Italian champions, and Los Rojiblancos will be hoping to produce more of the same when they entertain Celta Vigo at Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday, to potentially return to the top of the La Liga table.
Last weekend’s fixture at Anoeta produced a result that few people saw coming – particularly as Real Sociedad had been wounded by Athletic Bilbao in the Basque Derby on Matchday 3.
But Imanol Alguacil’s team produced what was easily their best performance of the season; dealing Diego Simeone and his new look Atleti side a bit of a reality check following three hard fought wins against Getafe (1-0), Leganes (0-1) and Eibar (3-2).
Atleti clearly still have some way to go if they are to be considered genuine title challengers this season and need to achieve greater consistency on the road having won just seven of their 19 away matches in 2018/19.
Simeone’s side have no such problems at Wanda Metropolitano though. They won 15 and lost just one of their 19 home outings last term and are two from two in front of their own fans so far this season.
A daunting trip certainly awaits Celta Vigo this weekend then, and Celestes have lost their last four away matches against Atleti, failing to score in three of those encounters.
Fran Escriba’s side head to Wanda in a bit of disarray after being reduced to nine men at home to Granada last week, dismissals which will see defender Jorge Saenz and midfielder Fran Beltran banned from this contest.
Granada unsurprisingly ran out 0-2 winners at Balaidos after making full use of their numerical advantage and Celta sit in 16th place going into Saturday’s game, albeit amongst a clutch of other sides on four points.
And despite a decent 1-1 draw at Sevilla in their only away match so far this season, we don’t envisage Celta getting anything from this game on the basis of Atleti’s strength at home, the head to head and Celestes poor travelling record stretching back to the start of the 2018/19 campaign.
In that time, Celta have won just two of their 20 away La Liga matches, losing 11, and they are without a victory in 13 games dating back to early December.
Granada vs Barcelona
Estadio Nuevo los Carmenes, Granada
Saturday, 21-09-2019 @10pm
Granada took full advantage of two early red cards for Celta Vigo last week to post a 0-2 success at Balaidos, the win taking Nazaries up to 6th in the early La Liga standings and level on points with Barcelona. Diego Martinez’ charges face a huge test as they take on the champions at Los Carmenes this Saturday evening, in a game that should produce plenty goals based on the current form of both sides and past meetings between the pair.
Despite starting the match as underdogs, last weekend’s fixture at Balaidos quickly turned in Granada’s favour after two Celta Vigo players saw red within the opening half hour; the hosts ill-discipline strangely heaping pressure on Nazaries who were then expected to come away from Galicia with nothing less than a win against the nine men.
It was still far from easy for Granada, but they kept their composure well and effectively sealed the points before the hour mark thanks to goals from German Sanchez and Yangel Herrera either side of half time.
The result means Granada have now secured back to back wins on the road and a pair of clean sheets to boot following their emphatic 0-3 triumph over Espanyol before the international break, and Diego Martinez’ team couldn’t be in better shape ahead of this weekend’s encounter with the champions.
Recording a third consecutive La Liga victory on Matchday 5 may be a bridge too far for this Granada side, but they certainly have the attacking threat to give Barca lots to think about after smashing in nine goals in their four league games to date.
Barcelona have won 11 of their previous 12 matches against Granada and anything less than a win at Los Carmenes this weekend will be seen as a poor result for the Catalan giants, who are slowly building momentum after their 1-0 opening day defeat at Athletic Bilbao.
Ernesto Valverde’s men have posted comfortable 5-2 wins against Real Betis and Valencia either side of a 2-2 draw at Osasuna, and you get the feeling that the champions are starting to move through the gears.
A 0-0 draw away to Dortmund in midweek was a satisfactory opening to Barca’s Champions League campaign and they welcomed back captain fantastic Lionel Messi who has missed the first few games of the season with injury.
Messi may well be ready to start at Los Carmenes on Saturday and Granada could find themselves a little shell-shocked up against the Argentine and Antoine Griezmann who represent a significant step up from the quality of opposition attackers that they have had to deal with so far in the top flight.
The last six matches between these sides have generated a total of 23 goals and we should be set for more of the same this Saturday considering how well both teams have performed in front of goal this term.
Getafe vs Mallorca
Coliseum Alfonso Perez, Getafe
Sunday, 22-09-2019 @1pm
Getafe’s frustrating 1-1 draw at Real Betis last weekend means their search for a first La Liga win this season goes on, but Pepe Bordalas’ side will be confident that they can break their duck at home to newly promoted Mallorca this Sunday morning after Thursday’s Europa League success over Trabzonspor.
Getafe outperformed expectations to qualify for European football last term and their opening Group Stage contest came as a welcome distraction for the Madrid based outfit on Thursday following a sticky start on the domestic front.
After a 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid at Wanda Metropolitano on the opening night, Pepe Bordalas’ charges have posted three consecutive 1-1 draws and they will have been mightily disappointed at Benito Villamarin on Matchday 4 having failed to see off a Betis side who had to play with ten men for over an hour of the game.
Nerves were understandably present for Getafe as they kicked-off their Europa League challenge at Coliseum Alfonso Perez on Thursday, but they were soon eased after Angel’s goal 18 minutes in which proved enough to see off their Turkish opponents.
Getafe will now look to build on that performance at home to Mallorca on Sunday, and Pepe Bordalas’ side are understandably favourites to see of a Los Bermellones side that lost nine times on the road in Segunda last term.
Whilst boss Vicente Moreno has made necessary improvements to his squad to try and make Mallorca competitive in the top flight, there’s a strong sense that the Balearic Islanders are going to prove much more of a threat at Son Moix than they will on their travels.
Mallorca lost just twice in 21 games at home last season and have already beaten Eibar (2-1) and drawn with Athletic Bilbao (0-0) at Son Moix. Their only away La Liga fixture to date was against Valencia, but Moreno’s men were largely exposed in a 2-0 defeat at Mestalla.
Sunday’s match represents a slightly easier assignment for Mallorca, although it’s worth remembering that Getafe have lost just two of their last 15 league games at home and put together a run of eight wins in ten at Coliseum Alfonso Perez in 2018/19.
Espanyol vs Real Sociedad
RCDE Stadium, Barcelona
Sunday, 22-09-2019 @3pm
Just as Espanyol started to reverse their La Liga fortunes with a 1-2 comeback win at Eibar on Matchday 4, Periquitos failed to justify long odds on favouritism in their first Europa League Group Stage match against Ferencvarosi TC on Thursday, having previously romped their way through the qualifying rounds.
New boss David Gallego will be longing for some consistency, but can his side get the better of Real Sociedad at RCDE Stadium this Sunday?
Espanyol looked a cut above Hungarian champions Ferencvarosi TC on paper, and appeared to be bankers amongst the late Europa League kick-offs on Thursday after banking their first La Liga victory of the season last weekend.
After picking up just a single draw from their first three matches which included a woeful 0-3 home defeat to newly promoted Granada, quick-fire goals from Facundo Ferreyra and his replacement Esteban Granero secured a vital three points for Periquitos at Estadio iperua and signalled that David Gallego’s men may be turning the corner.
But Espanyol just couldn’t get the better of Ferencvarosi despite 68% possession and 14 shots on goal, with Mattias Vargas’ strike on the hour mark only good enough to post an underwhelming 1-1 draw.
It remains to be seen how Espanyol will react to that setback this weekend, against a Real Sociedad outfit whose resolve cannot be questioned.
Txuri-urdinak were soundly beaten 2-0 by Athletic Bilbao in the Basque derby before the international break – a result and performance which could have easily demoralised Imanol Alguacil’s squad.
But they returned with a bang at Anoeta against Atletico Madrid on Matchday 4, ending Los Rojiblancos’ 100% record with a 2-0 triumph courtesy of goals from the impressive Martin Odegaard and Nacho Monreal.
The result shuffled Sociedad up to 7th in the La Liga table, where they sit 10 places above this Sunday’s hosts. Nonetheless, only three points separate the sides at this early stage of the season and there shouldn’t be too much between them here based on the 2018/19 campaign and recent encounters.
Espanyol finished just three points ahead of Sociedad last term, when each shared a win apiece from their two league fixtures. The last ten meetings between the pair have produced four wins apiece and two draws, so we should be set for a decent, if slightly unpredictable contest.
Sociedad are clearly in better nick at present, although a paltry sum of just three wins from their last 15 away La Liga matches dampens enthusiasm for backing the visitors.
Similarly, Espanyol can’t be trusted after losing both of their domestic home games this season by a 0-5 aggregate score – dismal efforts that are hardly enhanced by a 1-1 draw against ordinary opposition in midweek.
Valencia vs Leganes
Estadio Mestalla, Valencia
Sunday, 14-09-2019 @5pm
A trip to Camp Nou to face champions Barcelona was hardly the ideal fixture for Valencia on Matchday 4 after Marcelino’s controversial sacking, and Los Che were comprehensively outgunned 5-2 by the Catalan giants.
New manager Albert Celades quickly whipped his squad into shape though as Los Che opened their Champions League account with an excellent 0-1 success at Chelsea in midweek, and the 43 year-old will be looking for more of the same this weekend as his team aim to hit back on the domestic front at home to struggling Leganes.
Whilst any kind of positive result at Barcelona would have been classed as a bonus last weekend, four points from four La Liga matches is unquestionably a poor return for this Valencia side, who finished 4th last term for the second season in a row and lifted the Copa Del Rey.
Expectations are high for Los Che this season, and whilst they began their Champions League campaign in fine style earlier this week, they are already playing catch-up in La Liga after dropping eight points from a possible 12 on offer.
Fortunately for Valencia, they have quick-fire consecutive home games coming up which should both be winnable, starting with Leganes this Sunday before a clash against Getafe next Wednesday.
Los Che were held to 1-1 draws in both La Liga fixtures against Lega last term, but this season’s form indicates that the hosts should return to the trend which saw them win their previous six encounters with Los Pepineros.
That’s not particularly due to Valencia’s results or displays to date (bar their aforementioned midweek victory at Stamford Bridge) but instead Leganes’ woeful start to the La Liga campaign.
Los Pepineros sit bottom of the table after losing all four of their matches thus far – the latest of those defeats being a 0-3 home trouncing at the hands of Villarreal last Saturday. Lega have failed to score in three of those games after drawing blanks at home to Osasuna (0-1) and Atletico Madrid (0-1) in the first two weeks of the season, with their only goal scored to date coming against Real Betis (2-1) at Benito Villamarin before the international break.
Boss Mauricio Pellegrino needs to turn things around fast with his side already four points behind 17th place Espanyol, but Lega could conceivably be six defeats from six come this time next week with a tough game against 4th placed Athletic Bilbao up next.
Athletic Bilbao vs Deportivo Alaves
Estadio San Mames Barria, Bilbao
Sunday, 22-09-2019 @7:30pm
Athletic Bilbao’s rapid progress under Gaizka Garitano in the second half of the 2018/19 campaign indicated that Los Leones could be a genuine force this season, and that’s certainly been the case thus far.
Bilbao deservedly beat Barca 1-0 on the opening night before a gritty 1-1 draw at Getafe, and they signed off for the international break with a dominant 2-0 success over Real Sociedad in the Basque Derby at San Mames.
Unsurprisingly, Los Leones went into last weekend’s game against newly promoted Mallorca at Son Moix as favourites, but they could only manage a point from a contest which developed into one most thrilling 0-0 stalemates seen in La Liga for some time.
After Abdon Pratz missed a penalty for Mallorca on 82 minutes, Bilbao then blew their golden chance to win it late in the day when Matchday 1 hero and former Los Bermellones player Aritz Aduriz saw his penalty saved by Manolo Reina.
Bilbao were then spared deep into stoppage time by VAR as Mallorca substitute Alex Alegria had his headed effort ruled out, and Los Leones fans breathed a huge sigh of relief. In the end, a point in Palma wasn’t such a bad result for Garitano’s side and does little to harm to their current morale and momentum.
They head into this Sunday’s clash with Alaves 4th in the early La Liga standings and rate as solid favourites to beat El Glorioso based on current form and their tremendous recent record at San Mames.
Bilbao are unbeaten in 16 La Liga matches at home, winning ten – and that spells bad news for an Alaves side that are without a win in five top flight games on the road, stretching back to the end of last season.
Alaves have had a middling start to the campaign with five points on the board after four games – a tally probably no worse or better than was expected so far from Asier Garitano’s men.
Sevilla vs Real Madrid
Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Seville
Sunday, 22-09-2019 @10pm
This weekend’s feature in La Liga comes from Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, as early La Liga leaders Sevilla take on a Real Madrid side facing serious issues at present. Like Sevilla, Los Merengues have made an unbeaten start on the domestic front but have been highly unconvincing, and they were ripped to pieces by PSG in the Champions League on Wednesday evening.
Eight points from a possible 12 can hardly be considered a bad start to the new La Liga season for Real Madrid – after all, they lost 12 times in 2018/19 and were clearly suffering after Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Juventus.
But aside from their smooth 1-3 success against Celta Vigo at Balaidos on the opening weekend, Los Merengues have been noticeably flat and devoid of any real cohesion.
They failed to break the shackles at home to Valladolid on Matchday 2 (1-1) and after a 2-2 draw at Villarreal before the international break, Real almost chucked away a three goal advantage at home to Levante last weekend.
The nerves and trepidation circulating around the Bernabeu began transpiring to Zinedine Zidane’s side – who may as well not have shown up at Parc Des Princes on Wednesday night.
Real failed to register a single shot on target in Paris as they were battered 3-0 by the French champions – a harsh reality check that sent shockwaves throughout Europe.
Things need to be sorted out quickly, but at the moment it seems as if Zidane has a mish-mash of talent who can’t function together and don’t want to commit to the cause.
And Matchday 5 could hardly have dealt Real a worse fixture, considering their recent record at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Sevilla are unbeaten in their last five games against Madrid in Andalusia, winning four including a thumping 3-0 success last season.
Factor in Sevilla’s fine start to the campaign under new manager and former Real boss Julen Lopetegui, and Los Merengues could well be on the end of another hiding this Sunday night.
Sevillistas are deservedly top of the pile at this early stage of the season after claiming ten points from a possible 12, keeping clean sheets in all of their wins including last weekend’s 0-1 result away to Alaves.
Sevilla’s new crop are seemingly doing just enough at the moment and have lots of potential to get better as they continue to gel, so it’s not inconceivable that the Andalusian’s could emerge as surprise title contenders this term.
After smashing Qarabag 0-3 on Thursday in the Europa League, Sevilla go into Sunday’s key clash brimming with confidence.