Category Archives: La Liga

La Liga pick of the week: Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid

Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid
Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid

Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid

In a potentially dramatic final game of the La Liga season, the only remaining title contenders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid clash with each other. Barca need a win to lift the title, while a draw would be suffice for Atletico. Both the teams, especially Atletico, had had opportunities to settle the issue long before. But these teams, along with Real Madrid, competed with each other to spurn chances. Now, it has boiled down to this game. The winner will take all.

Even die-hard Barca fans will know in their hearts that Barca do not deserve title this time. They have not been in their best form. They will even secretly admit that Atletico have been the better team, especially in defending. Barca will consider themselves lucky in that they are still in it with a chance. They are three points behind Atletico, but do have a better goal difference. If they can win against Atletico at home, the La Liga crown is theirs.

Atletico will be ruing the missed opportunities. Had they won at least one of their three previous games, they would be celebrating by now. They would let bygones be bygones and try to secure one more point against Barcelona at Camp Nou. They will be confident of holding their own against fading, yet still powerful, Barca line-up.

The recent H2H record between these teams is in favour of Barcelona. But the current form strongly backs Atletico.

A whole lot will depend on whether Diego Costa plays or not. He has not recovered from injury fully, and he has to be preserved for the Champions League final against Real Madrid.  He is certain to leave Atletico in the next season. These two matches are his last chance to secure some prestigious silverware for the club.

Barcelona players, including Lionel Messi, appeared dispirited on and off the pitch in recent times. Can they find the spark to produce one last inspiring performance?

We predict a 1-1 draw.

Bet on a draw at bet365:

17/2014/57/2

La Liga pick of the week: Celta Vigo vs Real Madrid

Celta Vigo vs Real Madrid
Celta Vigo vs Real Madrid

Celta Vigo vs Real Madrid

Real Madrid’s La Liga title hopes hang perilously close to extinction, as they visit Celta Vigo on this Sunday. If Atletico Madrid win home match against Malaga, that will be curtains for Real’s title run. They have only themselves to blame, as they had had the opportunity to go on top after Atletico’s shock defeat against Rayo Vallecano and Barca’s not-so-shocking draw against Getafe.

However, Real failed to impose their will on the La Liga proceedings. They should have won their next two matches. Instead, they huffed and puffed towards disappointing draws against Valencia and Real Valladolid.

Now Atletico Madrid appear the front runners for the title. Even Barcelona, for all the negative vibes coming out of the team, can win the crown by winning their next two games – the last of which, incidentally, is against Atletico Madrid.

Coming back to this game, Real Madrid can now only hope to win their next two games and hope against hope that both Barca and Atletico slip in their next two games.

Celta Vigo are ninth in the league. They are in an ambition-less, sorrow-less state, where they cannot push for European league berths or they cannot fall into the relegation zone. They can play football at its purest, without any pressure, where Real Madrid will be under all sorts of pressure.

The H2H statistics between these teams is overwhelmingly in the Madrid side’s favour. The recent record is not, though. Celta have won all their previous three matches, while Real have managed just one win in their last three matches.

Real Madrid have no major injury worries. They will field their best eleven. Celta Vigo may try out a few fresh faces. Still their most prolific strikers, Nolito and Charles, are likely to play.

We predict a 1-1 draw.

Bet on a draw at bet365:

11/24/12/5

La Liga pick of the week: Sevilla vs Villarreal

Sevilla vs Villarreal

Sevilla vs Villarreal

Sevilla will try to replicate their continental form in the domestic league, as they host Villarreal on this Sunday. The team will be euphoric after their dramatic entry into the Europa League final. An injury-time goal by Stéphane M’Bia ousted Valencia and secured the final spot for Sevilla.

In the La Liga, they are engaged in a tough battle with Real Sociedad for the fifth spot. They are fifth at the moment, with a two-point lead over the Basque outfit. They will have to win their remaining three matches to cement their fifth position.

Villarreal have reasons to feel disappointed at their current position, particularly after the terrific start they had for this season. They would want to end the season on a high. A win over Sevilla will be a huge morale boost for the team. If they keep their current seventh position, they will qualify for the qualifying rounds of Europa League.

Sevilla lead the H2H statistics of the last couple of seasons 13-7. They have lost only one of the last six matches against Villarreal. Most indicators suggest a comfortable win for Sevilla, especially as Villarreal have managed just one win in their last five outings.

Leading striker Jeremy Perbet’s absence could hurt Villarreal. Ikechukwu Uche will lead the attack in his absence. Sevilla, as usual, will rely on Kevin Gameiro, Carlos Bacca and Ivan Rakitic.

The tiredness of the gruelling mid-week fixture could affect Sevilla’s game. That is why we predict a 1-1 draw.

Bet on a draw at bet365:

3/413/515/4

Sevilla vs Villarreal
Sevilla vs Villarreal

Sevilla vs Villarreal

La Liga pick of the week: Sevilla vs Villarreal

Sevilla will try to replicate their continental form in the domestic league, as they host Villarreal on this Sunday. The team will be euphoric after their dramatic entry into the Europa League final. An injury-time goal by Stéphane M’Bia ousted Valencia and secured the final spot for Sevilla.

In the La Liga, they are engaged in a tough battle with Real Sociedad for the fifth spot. They are fifth at the moment, with a two-point lead over the Basque outfit. They will have to win their remaining three matches to cement their fifth position.

Villarreal have reasons to feel disappointed at their current position, particularly after the terrific start they had for this season. They would want to end the season on a high. A win over Sevilla will be a huge morale boost for the team. If they keep their current seventh position, they will qualify for the qualifying rounds of Europa League.

Sevilla lead the H2H statistics of the last couple of seasons 13-7. They have lost only one of the last six matches against Villarreal. Most indicators suggest a comfortable win for Sevilla, especially as Villarreal have managed just one win in their last five outings.

Leading striker Jeremy Perbet’s absence could hurt Villarreal. Ikechukwu Uche will lead the attack in his absence. Sevilla, as usual, will rely on Kevin Gameiro, Carlos Bacca and Ivan Rakitic.

The tiredness of the gruelling mid-week fixture could affect Sevilla’s game. That is why we predict a 1-1 draw.

Bet on a draw at bet365:

3/413/515/4

La Liga pick of the week: Athletic Bilbao vs Sevilla

Athletic Bilbao vs Sevilla
Athletic Bilbao vs Sevilla

Athletic Bilbao vs Sevilla

Athletic Bilbao vs Sevilla

Athletic Bilbao vs Sevilla

In a direct fight for the fourth position, and the resultant Champions League bounty, Sevilla fight Athletic Bilbao in the latter’s den on this Sunday. If Sevilla win this match, they can go level on points with the Basque team. And if they lose, they can kiss goodbye to Champions League hopes. An interesting sub plot to the match is the upcoming Europa League semi final between Sevilla and Valencia. Sevilla have a comfortable 2-0 lead from the first leg. Still, they do not want to stretch their regular starters by much.

Bilbao have a terrific home record, having lost at home only twice – first against Espanyol and then against Atletico Madrid. They will have to be at their best against Sevilla to guard that record, as the Betis side has a great record at Bilbao. They have won four times in their last five visits. The H2H record over the last two decades is tilted in favour of Sevilla: 17-9.

And Sevilla have a great recent record too. They have lost just one of their last 10 matches and won all the remaining nine matches. The current form favours them. The necessity to rest some of their key players might tilt the balance in favour of Bilbao.

Defender Carlos Gurpegui and striker Ibai Gomez are unlikely to start for Bilbao. Another striker Iker Muniain too is injured, he is likely to recover by Sunday.

Sevilla’s strength is their frontline, comprising Kevin Gameiro, Carlos Bacca and Ivan Rakitic. If they play, Sevilla will be unstoppable.

There are attractive odds for a Sevilla win and draw. We predict a 2-1 win for Sevilla.

Bet on Sevilla at bet365:

19/205/211/4

La Liga pick of the week: Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao

Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao
Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao

Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao

Atletico Bilbao will look add further miseries to Barcelona when they come calling to Camp Nou on this Sunday. The beleaguered Catalan giants are on the look out for a way out of the current mess. This is going to be an exciting match-up, as a win for Bilbao could potentially shatter whatever thin hopes Barca have for retaining the Spanish crown.

If you look at the roots of Barca’s current crisis, it all began at Bilbao back in December 2013. It was their first defeat of the La Liga season. When the two teams are meeting again, Barca have suffered four more defeats since their meeting, including the last week’s league defeat against Granada.

If that has not hurt them, the mid-week defeat against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final surely would. There is some merit in Bilbao’s confidence of pulling off yet another win over Barca.

The Basque outfit is in better form than are their much fancied opponents. Since their loss against the fellow Basque club Real Sociedad, they have not lost a match on the road. Their unbeaten away run is into its eighth match now. They would be mighty pleased if they can extend it further.

Barcelona have a dominant H2H record over Bilbao. However, their alarming recent form has offered ever-brightening hopes for their opponents.

The absence of their regular defensive personnel, including goalkeeper Victor Valdes and defenders Sergio Busquets, Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, has hurt Barcelona. Still, the poor form of their much hyped forward line-up, Messi, Neymar and Iniesta, has been the major factor behind their recent slump.

Bilbao will miss out the services of Moreno Mikel Rico, Carlos Gurpegui and Ibai Gomez – all influential players. The team will hope that Aritz Aduriz and Markel Susaeta will see them through.

We expect a hard-fought match, with Bilbao dominating early and then Barca making a strong come back. We predict a 2-2 draw.

Bet on a draw at bet365:

1/411/28/1

La Liga pick of the week: Real Betis vs Sevilla

Real Betis vs Sevilla
Real Betis vs Sevilla

Real Betis vs Sevilla

If familiarity breeds contempt, those in Sevilla must hate football derbies by now. This is the third time in a month’s time that the famed Sevilla derby between Real Betis and Sevilla FC is going to be played out. In the case of soccer derbies too, familiarity does breed contempt – but only the contempt for a team towards the other. Sevilla managed to knock out Betis from Europa League. Now Betis seek revenge in this match.

Betis in fact have more reasons than mere revenge or bragging rights to chase a win. They are at the bottom of the league table and the most likely relegation candidate. They are eight points behind the 19th-placed Almeria. They need a miracle plus a Chuck Norris-like intervention to get out of this hole.

But when they play against Sevilla, even if it happens to be the fourth time of the season, everything else withdraws to background. The passion and regional pride built over generations of football fans come to the fore. They have been doing poorly in recent times, having scored just two wins in their last ten games.

Sevilla, on the other hand, are having a whale of a time – seven wins in the last eight matches. They are into the semi finals of the Europa League. And they are fifth in the league, and they still have an outside chance to secure the fourth position, which would open a path toward UEFA Champions League.

The H2H statistics do not matter much in derbies like this. Still, Sevilla have a 13-8 advantage in the last couple of decades.

Rubén Castro and Jorge Molina hold the key for a Betis win. If they fire, Betis should extract revenge. Salva Sevilla is another one who has a good record against Sevilla.

Sevilla will hope that the trusted trio Carlos Bacca, Ivan Rakitic and Kevin Gameiro will not let the pressure of a derby to get to them. If they find their rhythm, there will be further misery for Betis.

We predict a 2-1 win for Sevilla.

Bet on Sevilla at bet365:

23/105/211/10

La Liga pick of the week: Real Sociedad vs Real Madrid

Real Sociedad vs Real Madrid
Real Sociedad vs Real Madrid

Real Sociedad vs Real Madrid

Real Madrid fly down to the Basque region on a hit-and-raid mission for three gold-like points against Real Sociedad. The team is high on confidence after a dashing mid-week win over their last season’s nemesis Dortmund in the Champions League quarterfinals. They can afford nothing short of a win and seem to have recovered from the defeat in the El Classico.

But Sociedad are not wide-eyed admirers. They have been playing some splendid soccer over the season. They are involved in an exciting battle with Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla and Villarreal for the fourth and fifth positions. They need the three points too – or at least a single point – to keep the flames of hope burning.

Sociedad’s H2H statistics against Real is awful. They have not won a match against Real in the last decade. It was in 2004 that Sociedad last won against the Madrid powerhouse. They finished 2013 on a high, but failed maintain consistency in 2014. But at home, they are still a formidable force. Or ask Barcelona, who suffered a shock 3-1 defeat here. Does the same fate await Real?

If that happens, it will be adios for Real Madrid’s title hopes. However, they appear motivated, after bouncing back last week from the twin defeats against Barca and Sevilla by slaughtering Rayo Vallecano 5-0 at home.

Cristiano Ronaldo limped off from the game against Dortmund. But the injury is not serious, but he has been rested for the match.  With Gareth Bale and Ángel Di María too in great touch, the Basque outfit’s defenders are anyway going to have a torrid time. What the home team needs is a great and fruitful time for their prolific striker duo of Antoine Griezmann and Carlos Vela.

We do not think Real Madrid is going to have an easy game. We predict a 2-2 draw.

Bet on a draw at bet365:

5/110/31/2

La Liga pick of the week: Athletic Bilbao vs Atletico Madrid

Athletic Bilbao vs Atletico Madrid
Athletic Bilbao vs Atletico Madrid

Athletic Bilbao vs Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid face a tough away fixture against Athletic Bilbao on this weekend. The Madrid outfit is on top of the La Liga at the moment, with a slender one-point lead over a rejuvenated Barcelona. The Basque region is normally hostile to clubs from the Spanish capital. But Atletico cannot afford to lose. Even a draw would be heart-breaking for them.

Bilbao, on the other hand, have their own ambitions. They have been playing impressively for some time. And they are fourth in the league, behind the big three. What will worry them is Sevilla’s dream run of late. They do have a six-point lead over Sevilla. But any slip-up from their part will see Sevilla come dangerously close.

Bilbao have played well against big clubs in this season. Barca lost at the San Mamés stadium, while Real managed a draw here. Bilbao will now look forward to add Atletico to the list of their big scalps. Their last 10 games have resulted in five draws. On the present situation, Bilbao will take a draw gladly, but Atletico cannot afford nothing short of a win.

The recent H2H record is in Atletico’s favour: 7-3 in the last 10 games. But Bilbao have a terrific record at home. They have lost only one match at home all season.

Atletico will need all their big guns – Diego Costa, David Villa, Raúl García and Koke – in the best form to topple the Basque outfit. Bilbao’s strikers Aritz Aduriz and Markel Susaeta know how to deal with the big guns. Their only concern would be about the fitness of Ibai Gomez, who is injured and is a doubtful starter.

We predict a 2-2 draw.

Bet on a draw at bet365:

1.902.301.40

 

La Liga pick of the week: Real Madrid vs Barcelona

Real Madrid vs Barcelona
Real Madrid vs Barcelona

Real Madrid vs Barcelona

If you think Chelsea vs Arsenal is the biggest match of the weekend, think against and listen carefully. Did you hear the roar from Madrid? It is the El Classico coming up, folks – on this Sunday, at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium. And the odds for a Barca win is as high as 3.1.  It could be a big match for you as well as the Spanish giants.

Real Madrid has come back from abyss to snatch the top position of the league. They have a lead of three points over the second-placed Atletico Madrid and four points lead over the third-placed Barcelona. A loss in this match is all it takes to ruin the lead. On the current form, the Catalan side appears to be vulnerable – ripe for picking for Real’s all-conquering outfit.

But those who write off Barcelona live in fool’s paradise. True, the team has lost three away fixtures since December 2013. Yes, they do not have that dominant aura. Still, last week’s 7-0 mauling of Osasuna was a resounding warning to all doubters.

The recent H2H statistics does not sound well for the Barca fans: just two wins in the last nine games. Real have scored four wins in the same period. You can interpret in either way: Barca are due for a win, or Real are gearing up to extend the dominance.

This is going to be a big match between two individual combinations too. Which one is better – Messi-Neymar combo or Cristiano Ronaldo-Gareth Bale partnership? Sunday will bring us the answer.

But don’t forget our prediction: Barca are going to win 2-1.

Bet on Barcelona at bet365:

2.23.503.1

 

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