Celta Vigo vs Leaganes
Abanca Balaidos, Vigo
Saturday, 22-02-2020 @3pm
Celta Vigo claimed a huge scalp when beating fifth placed Sevilla 2-1 at Balaidos on Matchday 23 to move out of the relegation zone, and Celestes backed up that result with a tremendous display against leaders Real Madrid last weekend.
Oscar Garcia’s men travelled to the Bernabeu with just six points on the board from 11 previous away outings this term, and on paper had little chance against a Real side unbeaten at home this season and 33 points superior in the La Liga standings.
It took just seven minutes though for Celta to make their mark through Fedor Smolov, and although Real eventually made their dominance count to go 2-1 up midway through the second half, Celta had the last word five minutes from time to earn a deserved 2-2 draw as Santi Mina lashed home Denis Suarez’ exquisite through ball, a sure-fire candidate for pass of the season.
Celta must now replicate recent showings this Saturday lunchtime, in what is a crucial relegation six-pointer against Leganes. With two points separating the sides, a win for the hosts could see them open up clear daylight on the bottom three. However, an away triumph would see Los Pepineros leapfrog their Celta who would fall back into the relegation zone.
Celta’s excellent recent results against top opposition has given them a decent platform to beat the drop this term, but the teams below them have also been picking up points of late to stay within touching distance of the safety line.
It was vital for Leganes to take something from last weekend’s fixture at home to Betis after a lifeless display at Levante on Matchday 23 (2-0), and they managed to do just that as the sides played out a dull 0-0 stalemate at Butarque.
Lega are really building confidence at home with ten points now amassed in their last five fixtures, but they need to start picking up the odd result on the road to move out of danger, after failing to win any of their 11 away matches so far this season (D5, L6).
Balaidos would be the perfect venue to start for Lega considering a win would lift them out of the bottom three, but Javier Aguirre’s men are hard to fancy at around the 3/1 mark based on their travelling record thus far and lack of goals. Los Pepineros have netted just six times overall on the road this season, failing to score in six of their 11 games.
Celta Vigo head into this Saturday’s game at Balaidos on a real high after beating fifth placed Sevilla 2-1 on Matchday 23, before battling to a 2-2 draw against leaders Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu last weekend. Celestes are unbeaten in their last five La Liga home matches (W1, D4). 19th placed Leganes remain two points behind 17th placed Celta after last weekend’s 0-0 stalemate at home to Real Betis. Los Pepineros travel to Balaidos in search of their first away win of the campaign (D5, L6).
Barcelona vs Eibar
Estadio Camp Nou, Barcelona
Saturday, 22-02-2020 @6pm
Barcelona closed the gap between themselves and leaders Real Madrid to just a single point with their 2-1 win at home to Getafe last weekend. The champions boast a near perfect record at Camp Nou this term, winning 11 and drawing one of their 12 starts thus far. Eibar are notoriously poor travellers, and have won just one of their 12 away games this season, losing six. Barca have won ten of 11 previous meetings between the sides (one draw), securing all of those victories by a two goal margin or better.
Barca have held their nerve with some narrow wins in recent weeks to keep on the coattails of El Clasico rivals Real Madrid at the top of the La Liga table, and their 2-1 victory over third placed Getafe on Matchday 24 could easily turn out to be one of their most important results of the season.
Getafe travelled to Camp Nou on the back of four straight league wins and were always going to pose a significant test to Barca’s title credentials, but the reigning champions won through thanks to two goals in six first half minutes from Antoine Griezmann and Sergi Roberto, which made the afternoon slightly more comfortable than was perhaps anticipated for Quique Setien’s charges.
The result applied pressure to Real ahead of their Sunday night game against Celta Vigo, and the unexpected 2-2 draw between those sides at the Bernabeu means Barca are now just a point behind Los Blancos heading into this weekend.
They have the chance to at least temporarily go top with a win over Eibar at Camp Nou, and the hosts are expected to oblige at short odds. Barca have dropped just two points from 12 home games this season, and they have won all but one of their 11 previous meetings with Eibar, securing victory in all by at least a two goal margin.
Eibar are an extremely capable team on their day as demonstrated by their 2-0 victory against Atletico Madrid in mid-January, but they generally only put their best foot forward at Ipurua.
Los Armeros are notoriously bad travellers, a trend that has continued this term with just one win gained and six defeats suffered from 12 outings on the road. Jose Luis Mendilibar’s men have won just two of their last 27 away La Liga matches, so it’s easy to see why they are at double figure odds to claim all three points this Saturday afternoon.
Eibar will at least be fresh for their trip to Camp Nou after their Matchday 24 clash against Basque rivals Real Sociedad was postponed due to air pollution, but that’s just about the only positive thing going for them here.
It would be harsh to class the visitors as complete whipping boys on their travels, considering they have drawn five of their games this season and lost by just a single goal on four occasions. But their resistance at Camp Nou may not be as stern if those aforementioned past meetings between the teams are anything to go by.
Real Sociedad vs Valencia
Reale Arena, San Sebastian
Saturday, 22-02-2020 @8:30pm
Real Sociedad have won six out of their last seven matches in all competitions, including a 2-1 home victory over Athletic Bilbao in the Basque derby a fortnight ago. Valencia are without a win in their last four games in all competitions, losing three away games in succession following Wednesday night’s 4-1 hammering against Atalanta in the Champions League. Real Sociedad have amassed ten points from their last five La Liga home fixtures, while Valencia have picked up just four points from their last five league matches on the road. Both teams have scored in all but one of Sociedad’s last nine home league fixtures, with the same applying to all but one of Valencia’s last eight matches on the road.
The games have been coming thick and fast for Real Sociedad thanks to their progress through to the Copa Del Rey Semi-Finals, so the postponement of last weekend’s La Liga fixture at Eibar due to air pollution was perhaps a timely intermission for Imanol Alguacil’s charges.
Sociedad were plagued by inconsistency throughout the first half of the season, but they have really got their act together over the past few weeks to move into contention for both cup honours and a top four finish.
Alguacil’s side have won six out of their last seven games in all competitions including back to back home wins in La Liga, the latter of those successes coming a fortnight ago as Txuri-urdinak battled to a 2-1 triumph over arch rivals Athletic Bilbao in the Basque derby.
It looks highly likely that Sociedad will soon face their adversaries again in the Copa Del Rey Final after both claimed 1st leg victories in the last four, but attentions right now turn back towards the league as Txuri-urdinak aim to stay in the hunt for a Champions League place.
Sociedad are eighth heading into Matchday 25 but are just three points behind fourth placed Atletico Madrid, so they will be feeling good about their current position with that game in hand against Eibar in the locker.
This Saturday’s fixture against Valencia is effectively a six-pointer in the race for Europe, with Los Che sitting directly above them in seventh. It’s an encounter that Sociedad will be confident of winning after five straight home victories in all competitions, while they have also amassed ten points from their last five La Liga matches at Reale Arena.
It’s been a disastrous 2020 thus far for Valencia. Albert Celades’ side never turned up in Saudi Arabia last month as they were swept aside 1-3 by Real Madrid in the Supercopa Semi-Finals, before going onto lose 2-1 at Granada in the Copa Del Rey.
Los Che’s league form has been no better with heavy defeats suffered in their last two away games against Mallorca (4-1) and Getafe (3-0), and things went from bad to worse for the club on Wednesday night, as they were pummelled 4-1 by Atalanta in the Last 16 of the Champions League.
Valencia are still in the mix for a top four finish in La Liga thanks to a run of five wins and two draws from eight outings in November and December, but their campaign is just a few more bad results away from being completely dead in the water.
It means Los Che will be under maximum pressure to claim all three points at Reale Arena this Saturday, but the odds are stacked firmly against them for reasons already outlined, and the fact that they have lost six of their 11 matches on the road in the top flight this term (W3, D2 and L6).
Levante vs Real Madrid
Estadio Cuidad da Valencia, Valencia
Saturday, 22-02-2020 @11pm
Levante will be hoping to halt their recent slide down the table on Matchday 25. Last weekend’s 2-1 loss at Villarreal was their fifth La Liga defeat in six, and saw them drop to 13th in the standings. Real Madrid’s lead at the top of La Liga was cut to just a single point after last weekend’s 2-2 home draw against Celta Vigo. However, Los Blancos remain unbeaten in 15 league matches (W10, D5), while they have won their last three on the road.
After a 3-4 Copa Del Rey defeat to Real Sociedad in their previous home game, Real Madrid endured another frustrating night at Santiago Bernabeu last Sunday, as relegation threatened Celta Vigo fought back late in the day to snatch a 2-2 draw.
It was a deserved point for Celestes who punched well above their weight for the full 90 minutes, and the result means that Real’s advantage over El Clasico rivals Barcelona at the top of the table is now just a single point heading into Matchday 25.
Los Blancos may have been a notch or two below their best on a couple of occasions now over the past fortnight or so, but it’s difficult to look beyond a return to winning ways for Zinedine Zidane’s side this Saturday.
Real remain unbeaten in 15 La Liga games (W10, D5), while they have won their last three starts on the road, including a facile 1-4 success at Osasuna on Matchday 23. Los Blancos will be fully focused on producing an immediate riposte with Barca hot on their heels, and they take on a Levante outfit that are amidst a dreadful run of form.
A narrow 2-1 defeat at Villarreal last weekend was hardly a disgrace for Levante considering El Submarino Amarillo have been in devastating form of late, but the result nonetheless condemned Granotas to their fifth reverse in six La Liga outings.
Paco Lopez’ charges have dropped to 13th in the table and are beginning to look nervously over their shoulders, with just eight points separating themselves from the relegation zone.
One positive for Levante going into this Saturday’s clash is the fact they have won four of their last six matches at Ciutat de Valencia; however the last three of those victories have been against sides currently toiling in the bottom four.
Their superb 3-1 triumph over Barcelona here in November seems a long time ago now, and it’s extremely difficult to envisage Levante producing a repeat showing this weekend, which will be needed if they are to take anything from the game.
La Liga other fixtures this weekend
-Osasuna vs Granada @2pm
-Alaves vs Bilbao @4pm
-Valladolid vs Espanyol @6pm
-Getafe vs Sevilla @20:30pm
-Atletico Madrid vs Villarreal @11pm
-Betis 3-3 Mallorca