Real Madrid to scrape win, Sevilla to struggle in week 25
AS English makes its Primera predictions for week 25.
Levante (20) - Getafe (13) Prediction: home win The similarities between the clubs are obvious: a tight budget, a fairly small fanbase due to more illustrious neighbours, and a regular presence in Primera over the last decade. Levante though have tasted the dark night of Segunda recently and will be eager not to do so again, meaning they need points and fast. Getafe and Levante also share the same away form: one win and two draws. This is exactly the kind of game Levante need to win if they are to avoid a repeat of 2007-08's wooden spoon showing.
Las Palmas (18) - Barcelona (1) Prediction: away win
Las Palmas can be pretty tough customers at home, where they've won five and drawn three of 12 games so far. But even the most optimistic Canary Islander won't be risking a solitary sheckle on a surprise on Saturday afternoon. It's a long flight to Las Palmas from Barcelona and Luis Enrique has a match against Arsenal to consider so may make a few changes, but it's still going be too much for the home side.
Espanyol (17) - Deportivo (9) Prediction: draw
Espanyol have been rotten all season, under coaches new and old. Constantin Galca has managed draws against Barcelona and Villarreal since taking over in December, but has also overseen losses to Getafe, Eibar and Real Sociedad, the latter a 5-0 spanking. Last week he handed Gary Neville a maiden Liga triumph and it's difficult to see Espanyol getting the better of a Depor side who have drawn 10 of their last 15 in the league.
Betis (14) - Sporting (16) Prediction: draw
Betis looked decent in spells last weekend in claiming a 2-2 draw at Riazor but those two strikes brought the Seville side's tally for the season to a paltry 18, the lowest in the league. Sporting are hardly prolific away from fortress Molinón but have picked up three wins on the road, while Betis fans have been fed meagre scraps at the Villamarín so far and most of their attacking verve is currently on the treatment table. This won't be pretty and spoils shared seems the likeliest outcome.
Celta (8) - Eibar (6) Prediction: away win
Celta have gone off the boil a bit recently after a storming eight-game unbeaten start to the campaign that included the lowering of Barcelona's fancy pants to ankle height in Balaídos. However, Celta's last eight games have reaped just four points -- and three of those were a nerve-wracking 4-3 home win over basement side Levante. Eibar arrested a mini-slump of three straight losses last weekend, also against Levante, and in the continued absence of talisman Nolito it's hard to see Celta getting back on track any time soon.
Rayo (15) - Sevilla (5) Prediction: home win
In a league where the alleged purchase of results is allegedly not entirely unknown, the suspicion is that if Sevilla were to try they'd pay Pablo only to be robbed by a last minute Pedro goal. Unai Emery's team are the only side other than Las Palmas to have a win record of zip on the road this season and Rayo, three points clear of the drop zone, will fancy this one. Paco Jémez is an attacking coach and while that does tend to leave things open at the back, Sevilla need a written invite to score beyond the Sánchez Pizjuán: they've managed six so far, the lowest tally in Primera.
Málaga (11) - Real Madrid (3) Prediction: away win
Real played a draining Champions League away match in Rome and have Raphaël Varane suspended, Pepe injured and Marcelo nursing a shoulder injury that required pain-killing injections for him to get on the pitch on Wednesday. If the Brazilian is rested ahead of next weekend's derby, Real could have a backline of Carvajal, Ramos, Nacho and Danilo. After failing to score in their first seven games Málaga have done so in nine of their last 10, picking up six victories during that time. Real have not enjoyed trips to Andalusia this season: Sevilla beat them, Betis held them and Granada were beaten in extremis. Málaga though have beaten Real only once in their last 22 attempts.
Athletic (7) - Real Sociedad (10) Prediction: home win
The Basque derby. The game of the weekend. Both sides have European aspirations and Athletic were in action on Thursday, scoring a priceless away win in Marseille to take control of their Europa League last-32 tie. The winning goal was supplied by Aritz Aduriz, who is in the form of his career. With Iñaki Williams back and both Sabin Merino and Gorka Elustondo playing out of their skins at the moment, Athletic are capable of putting La Real to the sword on Sunday.
Granada (19) - Valencia (12) Prediction: home win
Has Gary Neville finally turned Valencia's season around? Two wins on the bounce, the latter a 6-0 schooling of an admittedly poor Rapid Vienna side, have popped a grin back on his face, but his away record in Primera still reads drawn two, lost three. If this is a new dawn for long-suffering Che fans, a trip to 19th-placed Granada is a good testing ground. It's almost unfathomable how a decent side, with the Pozzo family's cash to chuck around and a decent academy, can be in 19th. Until you look at the defence: 49 goals conceded is matched only by Rayo. But Granada would be in much worse schtuck if weren't for their home form, which should be sufficient to burst Neville's balloon in Los Cármenes.
Atlético (2) - Villarreal (4) Prediction: draw
Number of games Villarreal have won 1-0 this season: six, including their last two victories. Number of games Atlético have won 1-0 this season: six, including their last one in Getafe. Number of times Villarreal have scored more than twice this season: three. Number of times Atlético have scored more than twice this season: three. Game of the weekend? 1-1 more like.
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