Real Mallorca vs Sevilla
Iberoster Estadi, Palma de Mallorca
Saturday, 21-12-2019 @3pm
Last weekend’s 2-1 home defeat to Villarreal ended an eight-match unbeaten run for third-placed Sevilla in La Liga. Los Palanganas travel to Palma seeking to boost their strong away record this term, after bagging five wins and two draws from their nine outings on the road so far.
Mallorca’s 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo on Matchday 17 ended a run of three straight defeats for the Balearic Islanders, who remain 17th in the table and just one point clear of the relegation zone. Los Bermellones have won four of their nine home games this season; however, they have been beaten on three occasions at Son Moix, including a 2-1 reverse against Real Betis last time out.
After going eight matches unbeaten in La Liga and racking up four wins and a draw from their last five home games, Sevilla were expected to overcome a Villarreal side who were without a win in six last weekend, but things just didn’t go to plan for Los Palanganas at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Julen Lopetegui’s charges finally made their dominance pay on the hour mark as Munir cancelled out Raul Albiol’s early set-piece header, but despite 72% possession and numerous efforts on target, Sevilla couldn’t find a second goal and were undone against the run of play 15 minutes from time, as Karl Toko Ekambi gave El Submarino Amarillo a shock away success.
Following the midweek 0-0 stalemate in El Clasico, Sevilla now find themselves five points behind joint-leaders Barcelona and Real Madrid as a result of their second home defeat of the season, and they need to hit back immediately this Saturday lunchtime to stay seriously involved in the title race.
Mallorca, who sit in 17th, squared off against 18th-placed Celta Vigo in a proverbial six-pointer at Balaidos last weekend, and Los Bermellones couldn’t have found a better time to finally end their long losing streak on the road.
Vicente Moreno’s men had lost all seven of their away matches in La Liga this term prior to their trip to Galicia, so their 2-2 draw is a real mark of progress and ensures they keep their heads above the relegation parapet for at least another week.
The pressure is back on Mallorca to get something from this Saturday’s fixture as Son Moix, though, but the hosts will be relatively confident of doing just that after accruing 14 points from nine outings in Palma this season. Moreno’s side have won four times in front of their own supporters, including victories against Real Madrid (1-0) and Villarreal (3-1), so they are clearly a team who merit respect on home soil.
Barcelona vs Deportivo Alaves
Estadio Camp Nou, Barcelona
Saturday, 21-12-2019 @6pm
Wednesday’s 0-0 El Clasico draw was the first time Barcelona have dropped points at home this season, following a perfect seven wins from seven at Camp Nou.
Barca have triumphed in the last six meetings between these sides, winning all but one by a two-goal margin or better. Fourteenth-placed Alaves have picked up just one point from their last three La Liga games and have lost six from eight league matches on the road this season.
Everything so far this season points towards an extremely close title race between Barcelona and Real Madrid, and Wednesday night’s El Clasico at Camp Nou was no exception. With the teams heading into the contest level on points at the top of the table, a game billed as a potential classic turned out to be intriguing rather than thrilling, reminiscent of two heavyweight boxers slowly feeling each other out in the early rounds of a long, grueling fight.
The 0-0 stalemate, preserved by two fine goalline clearances from Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos, keeps Barca narrowly in front via goal difference going into their final fixture before Christmas – a game which they are expected to dominate against struggling Alaves.
Prior to Wednesday evening, Barcelona had posted a perfect seven wins from seven at Camp Nou, scoring a mammoth 30 goals in the process. Unsurprisingly, they are heavy odds-on favourites to regain the winning thread on Matchday 18, against an Alaves side who have lost six from eight on the road this season.
With just four points to their name in total away from home, only 17th-placed Mallorca and 19th-placed Leganes have picked up fewer points than Alaves on their travels this term, and Babazorros must fear the worst ahead of their trip to Catalonia this weekend.
At home, Alaves have accrued a reasonable 15 points from nine outings and have shown great competency defensively, with just five goals conceded. However, outside of Mendizorroza, they are going to pieces on a regular basis, with a huge 19 goals leaked so far. They have shipped at least twice in six of their eight away matches and have conceded four to both Osasuna (4-2) and Villarreal (4-1) in recent weeks.
This bodes terribly for Asier Garitano’s side; Barcelona are averaging 3.75 goals per game in La Liga at Camp Nou and overall confidence at the club is extremely low, with just one point picked up in their last three matches. They were also dumped out of the Copa Del Rey by minnows Real Jaen in midweek.
Villarreal vs Getafe
Estadio de la Ceramica, Villarreal
Saturday, 21-12-2019 @8:30pm
Getafe moved up to 4th in La Liga following last week’s 2-0 home victory against Valladolid. Pepe Bordalas’ side have won five and drawn two of their last seven in La Liga, and are enjoying a run of six consecutive wins in all competitions following their 1-2 success against El Palmar in the Copa Del Rey.
13th placed Villarreal upset Sevilla 1-2 in Andalusia on Matchday 17, ending a run of six La Liga matches without a win (D2, L4).
Goals from Marc Cucurella and Angel Diaz ensured that Getafe’s rapid rise up the table continued last weekend, as the Madrid based outfit cosily dispatched Valladolid 2-0 at Coliseum Alfonso Perez.
Pepe Bordalas’ side are now up to 4th in the standings after winning five and drawing two of their last seven La Liga matches, and they are firmly on course to go one better than last season when they agonisingly missed out on Champions League football in the final week of the campaign.
A much changed line-up managed to see off El Palmar 1-2 in the Copa Del Rey on Wednesday evening, meaning the club are now on a run of six consecutive wins in all competitions heading into this Sunday’s game.
Getafe’s overall away record in La Liga this term is only fair with three wins, three draws and two defeats from eight, but that’s largely due to the indifferent start which they had in the opening weeks of the season.
Since mid-September, Bordalas’ side have lost just one from seven league games on the road, and they travel to Estadio de la Ceramica having notched seven points form their last three travelling assignments.
Villarreal halted their run of six La Liga matches without a win on Matchday 17, as they held on for a fine 1-2 success against Sevilla at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Goals from Raul Albiol and Karl Toko Ekambi secured a shock three points for Javier Calleja’s side, who had previously lost six from eight on the road this season, although it’s fair to say that El Submarino Amarillo rode their luck as Sevilla dominated proceedings.
All in all though, Villarreal will be delighted with their results over the past fortnight or so following a solid 0-0 draw at home to Atletico Madrid, and they go into this Sunday’s contest on the back of a resounding 0-5 win against Comillas in the Copa Del Rey on Wednesday evening.
It’s perhaps a little too early to suggest that they have turned the corner though as they have been inconsistent for the best part of a season and a half now; and their status as clear favourites here is questionable despite the fact they have lost just one of their eight home league matches this term.
Real Valladolid vs Valencia
Estadio Municipal Jose Zorrilla, Valladolid
Saturday, 21-12-2019 @11pm
Valladolid have slipped to 15th in the table after picking up just two points from their last five matches. However, the hosts have been difficult to beat at Jose Zorrilla this term, losing just one of their seven outings. Valencia are 8th in the standings and just three points behind the top four after winning four of their last six La Liga games. Los Che have been inconsistent on the road this season, though, losing four from eight on their travels.
A 95th minute equaliser from Karim Benzema spoiled a great week for Valencia on Matchday 17, as Los Che were forced to settle for a share of the points against Real Madrid at Mestalla.
Fresh from their tremendous 0-1 triumph over Ajax which secured their passage to the Last 16 of the Champions League, Valencia were by far the better side in last weekend’s feature game, and looked to have won it after Carlos Soler broke the deadlock 12 minutes from time. But Benzema was on hand to restore parity for Los Blancos at the death, and the draw keeps Valencia 8th in the table and three points behind the top four going into the final round of fixtures before the Christmas break.
Whilst visibly disappointed by the late sucker punch, Albert Celades’ side will have reflected positively on their recent form over the past few days and they have now amassed 13 points from their last six league matches.
Los Che are clearly a far more consistent outfit now than at the start of the campaign; however they still have to prove that they can string results together on the road, after losing four of their eight away La Liga games this term.
Valencia beat Levante 2-4 when last on their travels a fortnight ago, and they will be optimistic about their chances of recording back to back away successes this Saturday, when they take on a Valladolid side who have failed to score a single goal in their last five league games.
Pucela have been nothing short of atrocious in front of goal since easing past Mallorca 3-0 at Jose Zorrilla on Matchday 12, and they are now down to 15th and just five points clear of relegation after a 2-0 defeat at Getafe last week.
A 0-3 midweek Copa Del Rey win at Tolosa will have restored a modicum of confidence in Sergio’s squad, but it’s hard to envisage them being good enough to beat Valencia this weekend based on their current struggles and Los Che’s growing momentum.
La Liga fixtures Sunday, 22-12-2029
-Leganes vs Espanyol @2pm
-Osasuna vs Real Sociedad @4pm
-Real Betis vs Atletico Madrid @6pm
-Levante vs Celta Vigo @8:30pm
Real Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao @11pm