Espanyol vs Athletic Bilbao
RCDE Stadium, Barcelona
Saturday, 25-01-2020 @3pm
Athletic Bilbao have drawn six of their ten away La Liga matches this season (W1, D6 and L3). Los Leones have also drawn their last four La Liga games, and are without a league win in five. Espanyol have drawn three of their last four games at RCDE Stadium, and are still without a win on home soil in the league this season (D3, L7).
Espanyol remain at the foot of La Liga heading into Matchday 21, but they are now just four points adrift of the safety line after a fine start to the New Year under new boss Abelardo.
The former Barcelona player had to face his old club in his first game in charge at RCDE Stadium three weeks ago, and a combination of his arrival and the derby occasion clearly lifted Periquitos, as they fought out a 2-2 draw against the champions and current league leaders.
That result was always going to give Abelardo’s new squad a huge shot in the arm, and they produced what was arguably an even better performance in last weekend’s away trip to Villarreal, as goals from David Lopez and Raul de Thomas secured an impressive 1-2 success at La Ceramica – inflicting only the second home league defeat of the campaign upon The Yellow Submarine.
Abelardo won’t be too fussed that his side exited the Copa Del Rey at Real Sociedad in midweek (2-0) considering that they will soon be back in Europa League action, and the momentum gained by Espanyol since the turn of the year will still be in-tact going into this Saturday’s clash with Bilbao.
After notching six wins and two draws from their first nine league matches at San Mames this season, Athletic Bilbao will have been mightily disappointed with their 1-1 draw at home to 18th placed Celta Vigo last weekend – particularly as Celestes went into that game with just a five point haul from their first nine away games in La Liga this term.
And it could have been far worse for Los Leones, who had to rely on a Raul Garcia penalty 14 minutes from time to salvage a point, despite recording 22 shots on goal throughout the contest.
Failing to taking chances and make dominance count has been a running theme all season for Bilbao, who possess one of the worst attacking records in the top flight (21 goals scored in 20 games), despite currently sitting 8th and just a point shy of the European qualification places.
And the majority of their problems in this area have been on the road. Gaizka Garitano’s men have netted just seven times on their travels, and have drawn a blank in five of their last eight away outings.
It’s no surprise then that the visitors have managed to win just once away from San Mames all season, although they have been relatively tough to beat with six draws posted from ten. Bilbao have now drawn their last four La Liga games, and another stalemate looks distinctly possible at RCDE Stadium this weekend.
Valencia vs Barcelona
Estadio Mestalla, Valencia
Saturday, 25-01-2020 @6pm
Barcelona have won 11 of their last 15 La Liga games (W11, D3 and L1). The league leaders head into this Saturday’s fixture 12 points clear of 7th placed Valencia, after Los Che’s 4-1 defeat at Mallorca last weekend. Both teams have scored in 11 of Valencia last 13 league matches. The same applies to 8 of Barcelona last 11 league matches, and four of their last five outings on the road. Both teams have scored in each of the last five meetings between the teams, including Barcelona’s 5-2 victory in September’s reverse fixture at Camp Nou.
Barcelona had to wait until the 76th minute to break the deadlock at home to Granada last weekend, but Lionel Messi’s controlled finish proved enough to ensure that new manager Quique Setien made a winning start to his reign at Camp Nou.
In truth, Barca’s dominance was barely reflected through the 1-0 scoreline after they saw around 83% of the ball and created numerous chances against spirited opposition, and the performance will have pleased Setien whilst also giving the 61 year-old plenty to work on with his side.
The result marked Barca’s 11th win from their last 15 Liga games and kept them joint top of the table alongside El Clasico rivals Real Madrid; the pair now eight points clear of 3rd placed Atletico Madrid who were surprisingly beaten 2-0 at Eibar on Matchday 20.
Valencia were humiliated by Real Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana, and Los Che were evidently still feeling the effects of that experience when they turned out to face Mallorca at Son Moix last Sunday morning.
Albert Celades’ charges were dire once more and deservedly found themselves 3-0 down to the relegation strugglers at half time, a deficit they couldn’t breach in the second period with Los Bermellones eventually running out comfortable 4-1 winners.
Valencia have now lost five of their ten away La Liga matches this season, form which is severely harming their ambitions of finishing in the top four for the third successive season. Los Che are four points adrift of 4th placed Sevilla heading into this Saturday’s game, and will probably need to beat Barca to prevent that gap from worsening, with Los Palanganas expected to beat Granada at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in Saturday’s late kick-off.
Deportivo Alavés vs Villarreal
Estadio de Mendizorroza, Vitoria-Gastiez
Saturday, 25-01-2020 @8:30pm
The last six meetings between the sides have produced over 2.5 goals, with both teams scoring in five of those games. All but one of Villarreal’s ten away La Liga matches this season have produced over 2.5 goals. El Submarino Amarillo have netted in 100% their games on the road, but have kept just two clean sheets. Alaves have scored in all but one of their last 14 La Liga fixtures, with both teams scoring in four of their last six outings.
Alaves were a clear second best for most of the game at Levante on Matchday 20, but Asier Garitano’s men held firm at Ciutat de Valencia and pinched just their second away victory of the campaign, thanks to a goal from Aleix Vidal midway through the second half.
After a run of five La Liga matches without success, the win did much to relieve the mounting pressure on Garitano and Alaves’ growing relegation concerns; the three points lifting Babazorros up to 14th in the table and seven points clear of the bottom three.
Alaves now need to rediscover their solid form at Mendizorroza to ensure that they stay well ahead of trouble, as four points from their last five home fixtures represents an extremely poor return considering they notched ten points from their first five outings in front of their own fans this term.
After three straight wins in La Liga and just one home defeat from nine league outings this season, Villarreal looked banker material to see off basement dwellers Espanyol at La Ceramica last week, but they were stunned 1-2 by Periquitos who have evidently perked up since the arrival of new manager Abelardo.
El Submarino Amarillo were equally responsible though after turning in one of their worst efforts of the campaign, and the result will have greatly frustrated boss Javier Calleja after his side had worked so hard in recent weeks to move back into contention for European qualification.
Villarreal are three points shy of the Europa League places and seven points behind the top four going into this Saturday’s clash, and they realistically need to get at least a point at Mendizorroza to stay in the hunt. They’ll be confident of doing so after beating Alaves 4-1 in October’s reverse fixture, however the visitors have lost six of their ten La Liga matches on the road this season.
Sevilla vs Granada
Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Seville
Saturday, 25-01-2020 @11pm
Sevilla have accrued 14 points from their last seven home matches in La Liga (W4, D2 and L1). Los Palanganas have secured three of their home league wins this term without conceding. Granada have lost their last six La Liga matches on the road, failing to score in their last four away trips.
The standout fixture in La Liga last weekend saw Sevilla travel to the Santiago Bernabeu to face recently crowned Supercopa champions Real Madrid; a game that Los Palanganas desperately needed to take something from to stay in the title race.
Los Palanganas turned in a decent display and matched their opponents for the majority of the contest, but it was Real who ultimately ran out 2-1 winners thanks to a double salvo from Casemiro, either side of Luuk De Jong’s equaliser for Sevilla.
Following an underwhelming 1-1 draw at home to Athletic Bilbao at the turn of the year, Sevilla now find themselves eight points adrift of joint leaders Real and Barcelona, and the main aim from here on in for boss Julen Lopetegui will be to secure a return to the Champions League via a top four finish.
Sevilla remain two points ahead of 5th placed Getafe and at least four points clear of the rest, and they have an excellent chance to strengthen their position in the coming weeks with fixtures against Alaves, Espanyol and Celta Vigo following this Saturday’s clash against Granada.
Similar to Sevilla, Granada put up a decent showing in defeat on their travels against Barcelona last weekend, holding the champions until 15 minutes from time when Lionel Messi eventually stole in to break the deadlock.
Nazaries tasted success on their travels with a 1-3 extra time victory over Badalona in midweek to reach the Last 32 of the Copa Del Rey; however Diego Martinez’ side have now lost six straight away matches in La Liga, failing to score in their last four.
Granada’s superb early season form means they are still 10th in the table and should avoid any form of relegation scrap this term, but their struggles on the road are becoming a major concern. Sevilla pinched a 0-1 win when the two sides met at Los Carmenes in August, and the visitors look highly unlikely to reverse those fortunes here despite an improved display at Camp Nou on Matchday 20.
-Atletico Madrid vs Leganes @2pm
-Celta Vigo vs Eibar @4pm
-Getafe vs Real Betis @6pm
-Real Sociedad vs Mallorca @8:30pm
-Real Valladolid vs Real Madrid @11pm
-Osasuna 2-0 Levante