Primera predictions week 31
AS Oracle again attempts to beat the bookies by giving the weekend's top flight games a peruse with the crystal ball...which includes El Clásico.
Rayo (16) – Getafe (18) Prediction: home win
Paco Jémez’s side have won the joint-fewest matches in La Liga this season, along with basement-botherers Levante (6). Five of those victories have come at home and Rayo are favourites going into Madrid’s ugly sisters derby on Friday night. Getafe have slipped into the relegation zone largely on the basis of their away form of five points from 14 games. The last of those came on January 4 in Gijón.
Atlético (2) – Betis (13) Prediction: draw
Atlético have lost five games this season, and only one at the Calderón, a 2-1 loss to Barcelona. However, Diego Simeone has some serious problems in central defence, where Diego Godín, José Giménez, Lucas Hernández and Stefan Savic are all out of action. Betis have been better on the road this season than in the Benito Villamarín and could cause a shock, or at least fashion a draw by capitalizing on the understaffed Atleti back line.
Las Palmas (15) – Valencia (14) Prediction: home win
New manager syndrome at Valencia perhaps? Pako Ayestarán has quite the task ahead of him to salvage a top-half finish and Valencia could find themselves swapping positions with Las Palmas if Quique Setién’s side can maintain their recent home form.
Barcelona (1) – Real Madrid (3) Prediction: home win
All eyes will be on the feast of football the Galician derby represents on Saturday night but as an aperitif, Barcelona can put so much daylight between themselves and Real they might as well be in different hemispheres. A home win will stretch Barça’s advantage to 13 points over the eternal enemy and in view of the recent sad loss of Johan Cruyff, the home side have an extra bit of motivation to heap more misery on Zinedine Zidane’s side after last November’s 4-0 spanking in the Bernabéu.
Celta (5) – Deportivo (10) Prediction: home win
Celta are chasing Villarreal for the final Champions League spot and have home advantage for the regional derby against Depor. Eduardo Berizzo’s side have recovered from their 7-1 shellacking at the hands of Real with consecutive wins over Real Sociedad and Valencia, while Deportivo have won just twice since November, both at home.
Athletic (7) – Granada (17) Prediction: home win
Athletic have been beaten just three times in San Mamés this season, by Barcelona, Real Madrid and… Real Sociedad. That last result has to be viewed as a blip as The Lions chase another season in Europe and Granada are far from convincing on the road, winning just three. Isaac Success is suspended, which robs Granada of some of their attacking verve, while Athletic have almost a full bill of health, only missing Aymeric Laporte (injured) and Raúl García (suspended). Aritz Aduriz will be eager to remain in Vicente del Bosque's thoughts after his Spain call-up last week and will fancy a crack at the league's second-most porous defence.
Málaga (8) – Espanyol (12) Prediction: draw
Málaga have lost four of their last 18 games after stinking La Liga out up to December and are in with a decent shout of Europe if the goals don’t dry up again. There won’t be too many in this one. Felipe Caicedo is the visitors’ top scorer with seven, a figure bettered only by Charles for the hosts, although the Brazilian has found the net just twice in his last 10 appearances.
Eibar (9) – Villarreal (4) Prediction: away win
Eibar are the Leicester City story of La Liga. Unlike the Premier League leaders, they were no almost relegated last season, they were, only to be reinstated when the bean counters took a close interest in Elche’s books. The Basque side were not as heavily tipped to go down as the Foxes at the start of the campaign, but few would have betted on a top half finish either. However, Champions League-placed Villarreal showed against Barcelona why they are in that position and should have too much nous for the home side on Sunday.
Sevilla (6) – Real Sociedad (11) Prediction: home win
Sevilla are still the only side in Spain, Italy, France, Germany and England’s top flights, other than Hellas Verona, without a win away from home this season. It’s a straight shoot-out for the wooden spoon but while Hellas are rooted to the bottom of Serie A, Sevilla are fifth in La Liga. It’s a bizarre statistic and one that Unai Emery will be keen to break when he gets the opportunity. In the meantime, a 14th home win of the season will keep the Sánchez Pizjuán happy.
Levante (20) – Sporting (19) Prediction: draw
A double six-pointer. A 12-pointer. If Levante win, they’ll pull level with Sporting. If they lose, they’ll be four points adrift of Getafe and Granada whatever results their fellow relegation strugglers achieve, while Sporting could rise to 16th. A cagey draw seems the more likely outcome.
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