Mallorca vs Valencia
Iberostar Estadi, Palma da Mallorca
Sunday, 19-01-2020 @2pm
Both teams have scored in each of Valencia’s last six away matches in La Liga. Mallorca have netted in five of their last six outings at Son Moix; however Los Bermellones have also conceded twice in three of their last four home games. Mallorca have won just one of their last ten La Liga matches, losing seven. Meanwhile, Valencia are unbeaten in five La Liga matches, and have won five of their last eight.
Despite carrying the outsider tag, seven victories and just one defeat from 11 games in all competitions meant that Valencia had high hopes for success in last week’s Supercopa de Espana; however Albert Celades’ side were well and truly outclassed by eventual champions Real Madrid at the semi-final stage.
The 1-3 scoreline didn’t exactly reflect just how one-sided the contest was, and Los Che will have to seriously pick themselves up ahead of their return to La Liga action against Mallorca this weekend.
Valencia had to rely on two penalties from Dani Parejo to see off Los Bermellones at Mestalla in September’s reverse fixture, and this Sunday’s clash in Palma could also be awkward for Celades’ side based on their indifferent league record on the road this term (W3, D2 and L4) – especially if they are suffering a hangover from their poor display in Saudi Arabia.
That being said, Valencia’s opponents this weekend have rather fallen by the wayside following some tenacious displays at the start of the campaign, while their earlier solid form at Son Moix has also gone south.
Mallorca beat Real Madrid 1-0 at home in mid-October and managed to accrue 14 points from their first eight top flight matches in Palma; however Vicente Moreno’s side have lost their last two at Son Moix against Real Betis (1-2) and Sevilla (0-2).
Those results have come amidst a run of six La Liga matches without a win for Sunday’s hosts (D1, L5) following a 1-0 defeat at Granada on Matchday 19, and Los Bermellones remain in the bottom three going into this weekend’s game.
Fortunately for Mallorca, they stay level on points with 17th placed Celta Vigo who have been unable to forge clear of the relegation zone in recent weeks, and any kind of positive result here for Los Bermellones could see them jump ahead of Celestes who face a difficult trip to face Athletic Bilbao at San Mames on Matchday 20.
Betis vs Sociedad
Estadio Benito Villamarin, Seville
Sunday, 19-01-2020 @4pm
Both teams have scored in Real Betis’ last seven La Liga matches, with six of those games producing over 2.5 goals. Eight of Real Sociedad’s last nine La Liga outings have seen both teams hit the net, with seven of those games producing over 2.5 goals. The last three encounters between the sides have produced over 2.5 goals with both teams scoring, including Real Sociedad’s 3-1 victory in October’s reverse fixture.
Real Betis head into this Sunday’s clash against Real Sociedad without a win in three La Liga games, but they were somewhat unfortunate to claim only a draw away to Alaves on Matchday 19.
Los Verdiblancos fell behind early to a 14th minute strike from Aleix Vidal, but they completely dominated thereafter and should have added to Emerson’s second half equaliser after fluffing a penalty and a host of clear chances.
So despite recent results not telling the full story including a narrow 1-2 defeat against 3rd placed Atletico Madrid here at Benito Villamarin before Christmas, it’s probably fair to say that Betis are still holding their form in terms of performances, after racking up a sequence of three straight league victories in November / December.
Rubi’s side returned to winning ways with a convincing 0-3 Copa Del Rey success at Portugalete last Saturday, and they will feel confident going into this weekend’s game that they can gain revenge for their 3-1 defeat to Sociedad in October’s reverse fixture.
After ending 2019 unbeaten in four La Liga games, Real Sociedad went into their Matchday 19 clash at home to Villarreal desperate to step up their chase for a top four finish.
Willian Jose’s eighth goal of the campaign put Txuri-urdinak well on track for the points midway through the first half at the Reale Arena, but Imanol Alguacil’s side were stunned by El Submarino Amarillo in the second half, as goals from Manu Trigueros and Santi Cazorla secured a 1-2 comeback success for the visitors.
It was a bitterly disappointing result for Sociedad considering they took the lead and faced a Villarreal outfit that had previously lost six from nine on the road this season, and they have now won just one of their last five top flight matches at home.
A road trip south to Andalusia may be just the ticket then for Sociedad this Sunday as they seek to consolidate 5th place in the table, and they have performed well on their travels of late with ten points accrued in their last five away games (W3, D1, and L1).
Villarreal vs Espanyol
Estadio de la Ceramica, Villarreal
Villarreal have lost just one of their nine home matches in La Liga this term (W4, D4 and L1). The hosts have won their last five games in all competitions, including their last three in La Liga. Espanyol are without a win in nine La Liga matches (D3, L6) and have lost their last four top flight games on the road by at least a two goal margin.
Villarreal rode their luck at times against Real Sociedad on Matchday 19, but Santi Cazorla’s strike 18 minutes from time proved decisive as El Submarino Amarillo sealed a tremendous 1-2 success at Reale Arena – their third La Liga victory on the spin following wins against Sevilla (1-2) and Getafe (1-0) at the end of 2019.
It’s taken a while for boss Javier Calleja to get a serious tune out of his side, but the Valencian outfit are now finding the consistency they need to challenge for the European places this season. Recent results have lifted the club up to 9th in the table, and a win over Espanyol this weekend could see Villarreal move into the top six, depending on how a number of other Matchday 20 fixtures pan out.
Sunday’s encounter at La Ceramica certainly looks one of the more straightforward games in Spain to solve on paper this weekend, with Villarreal flying and losing just one of their nine home matches this term. Meanwhile, Espanyol remain rooted to the foot of the table after failing to win any of their last nine top flight outings (D3, L6).
Nevertheless, Espanyol do go into this Sunday’s clash on the back of their best domestic performance of the campaign so far, following a 2-2 draw at home to city rivals and league leaders Barcelona a fortnight ago.
The game marked the start of yet another managerial era for Periquitos as Abelardo stepped into the hotseat at RCDE Stadium, and the former Alaves boss will have been delighted with the effort and performance from his new players, as goals from David Lopez and Wu Lei secured a precious point.
It remains to be seen, though, as to whether Espanyol’s improved showing was merely a flash in the pan, ignited by both the derby occasion and the arrival of a new manager. Periquitos are still heavy odds-on favourites with the bookmakers to fall through the trap door this season, and they need to start picking up wins soon to prevent that from happening.
And after so many issues and a glut of defeats at home this term, Espanyol’s results on the road are now also a real concern. Abelardo’s side travel to La Ceramica on the back of four consecutive away defeats, and they have lost all of those games by at least a two goal margin.
Bilbao vs Celta Vigo
Estadio San Mames Barria, Bilbao
Sunday, 19-01-2020 @8:30pm
Athletic Bilbao have amassed 20 points from their nine La Liga matches at San Mames this season (W6, D2 and L1). Celta Vigo are without a victory in their last five La Liga games (D3, L2), and have won just one of their last 11 top flight outings (W1, D3 and L7). Celestes have won just one of their nine away fixtures in the league this term, drawing two and losing six.
Athletic Bilbao have dropped to 8th in the Liga table after four matches without a victory; however three of those fixtures have been away from home, including meetings with top four sides Real Madrid and Sevilla.
Gaizka Garitano’s men battled extremely well to earn a 0-0 stalemate against Real at the Bernabeu before Christmas, and they kicked off 2020 with a highly respectable 1-1 draw at Sevilla – although Los Leones may have been disappointed with the final outcome after Unai Nunez’ second half own goal cancelled out Capa’s opener 15 minutes in.
Bilbao will be pleased, though, to get a couple of really testing fixtures out of the way, and they have a decent opportunity to make up lost ground in the race for European qualification over the next fortnight, with an away assignment against bottom side Espanyol following this Sunday’s home clash against Celta.
Garitano will be seeking nothing less than a six point haul from his side’s next two matches, and their status as favourites for this weekend’s game is certainly justified based on their home record this season (W6, D2, L1) and the fact they have lost just one of their last 23 league starts at San Mames (W14, D8 and L1).
Celta Vigo have picked up just one draw from their last four visits to Bilbao, and although they overcame Los Leones 1-0 at Balaidos in October’s reverse fixture, Oscar Garcia’s men look right up against it at San Mames again this time around.
Further to Bilbao’s excellent record on home soil over the past couple of seasons, Celta have won just one of their nine La Liga matches on the road this season, drawing two and losing six.
Celestes began the New Year with an improved display as they drew 1-1 at home to Osasuna, but it’s now five La Liga matches without a win for the Galician’s who have also lost seven of their last 11 in the top flight.
A 1-4 Copa Del Rey victory at Merida in midweek was definitely a small step back in the right direction for Celta, but getting anything from this Matchday 20 clash looks a tall order based on the majority of what we’ve seen from them this term, and they could be sucked into the relegation zone with a defeat here, should Mallorca claim a positive result when they take on Valencia at Son Moix.
Barcelona vs Granada
Estadio Camp Nou, Barcelona
Sunday, 19-01-2020 @11pm
Barcelona are unbeaten in all competitions at Camp Nou this season. The reigning champions have posted eight home victories from nine in La Liga, winning seven of those games by a three goal margin or more. Granada have lost their last five La Liga matches on the road by at least a two goal margin, shipping 14 times in total. Nazaries have also failed to score in their last three away fixtures.
Despite dominating for most of the game, late goals from Alvaro Morata and Angel Correa condemned Barcelona to a 2-3 defeat against Atletico Madrid in last week’s Supercopa de Espana semi-finals, a result which ultimately spelled the end for manager Ernesto Valverde, despite the 55 year-old overseeing convincing title triumphs in the last two seasons.
The swift arrival of former Real Betis boss Quique Setien suggests, however, that Valverde’s sacking had been on the cards for some time, and he has ultimately paid the price for domestic cup and Champions League failings over the past 24 months.
Setien’s appointment will be a surprise to many considering the 61 year-old boasts a rather modest 37% win ratio throughout his managerial career, although his expansive, possession based style should suit the Catalan giants well.
Barca begin life under Setien against Granada at Camp Nou this Sunday night, and they should make a winning start based on their excellent home record this season and Granada’s troubles on the road. The hosts are unbeaten at Camp Nou this term, winning eight from nine in La Liga, and seven of those victories have been clinched by a three goal margin or more.
Granada pulled off one of the shocks of the season when beating Barca 2-0 at Los Carmenes in September’s reverse fixture, but the chances of Nazaries completing a league double here look highly unlikely.
After riding high at the start of the campaign, the limitations of Diego Martinez’ side have been somewhat exposed over the last couple of months, and they head to Camp Nou on the back of five straight away defeats in the top flight. Nazaries have lost all of those fixtures by at least a two goal margin, and they have failed to score in their last three outings on the road.
Currently 10th with 27 points on the board, Granada’s fine start to the season should ensure that they have enough to stave off an immediate return to the second tier this term, and they are still picking up enough results at home as demonstrated by wins over Alaves (3-0) and Mallorca (1-0) at Los Carmenes in the past month.
We certainly expect them to slip further down the standings though during the second half of the season, and their dismal form on the road, as well as the huge difference in quality between the sides, strongly suggests that Nazaries are in for a tough evening at Camp Nou this Sunday.