LALIGA

LaLiga predictions week 34

Like Barcelona the AS Oracle's reputation, such as it was, has taken a bit of a battering in the past few weeks. But the season is long, and so are the odds.

LaLiga predictions week 34
FELIPE SEVILLANO DIARIO AS

Espanyol (15) – Celta (6) Prediction: away win

Espanyol went down to a battling Levante side in the weekend fixtures and with Rayo and Sporting also picking up points, the Parakeets are suddenly looking over their shoulders. Celta, meanwhile, failed to capitalize on the Yellow Submarine going down in the home of the famous annual Vallecas naval battle but cut the gap to fourth from eight points to seven while Athletic nipped into fifth. Both sides have found the target in their last six outings so shots across bows in the Power8 can be expected, with the edge for Celta, who have won their last two away from home.

Betis (14) – Las Palmas (11) Prediction: draw

Betis have the second-lowest goals-for total in the division, basement side Getafe having scored one fewer than the Sevillans’ paltry 30. Málaga have the same number, but failed to score at all for the first seven weeks of the competition. Las Palmas’ 38 are spread fairly evenly between home and away games, the Canary Islanders getting over their aversion to onion bags on foreign fields with wins at Eibar, Villarreal, Real Sociedad and Depor. Betis need a couple of points to reach the magical 40 mark and will settle for one against one of the division’s in-form sides.

Deportivo (13) – Barcelona (1) Prediction: draw

Lightning never strikes twice, the saying goes. But someone forgot to pay the meter at Camp Nou: Barça’s electricity has been cut off. After going on a Liga unbeaten streak from October 17 to April 2, Barça’s name was all-but on the trophy. Then Real Madrid won the Clásico, Real Sociedad got their voodoo dolls out and even Valencia got in on the act, thumbing their noses at the Culés in a 2-1 win on Sunday evening to throw the title race wide open. Deportivo will be keen to cash in on Barcelona’s collapse. Luis Enrique must try and pick his side up but the leaders are short in central defence and can't hit a cow's backside with a banjo up front.

Athletic (5) – Atlético (2) Prediction: away win

The links between these two clubs go back more than a century, when Athletic Club de Madrid was founded by Basque students in the capital. The sides' style of play also more than nods in both directions and Raúl García, who stepped into the scoring breach to hand Athletic victory against Málaga at the weekend, is one of the most emblematic players of the last decade at the Calderón and an instant favourite after his transfer to San Mamés last summer. Athletic won’t give an inch but Atlético’s front line are firing and it’s difficult to see the home side keeping a clean sheet. In the absence of Aritz Aduriz, Sabin Merino and Iñaki Williams, it’s equally hard to see the stingiest defence in the division being overly generous in San Mamés, García or no García.

Málaga (8) – Rayo (16) Prediction: home win

Rayo took a giant leap towards survival in beating Villarreal at the Vallecas Stadium on Sunday but Paco Jémez’s side have only picked up one win on the road all season and have shipped 40 goals on their travels: only Getafe have leaked more. Málaga will feel a draw would have been a fairer result against Athletic and will take out their frustrated European aspirations on the visitors in La Rosaleda.

Valencia (12) – Eibar (10) Prediction: home win

Valencia honcho Peter Lim may well be wondering where his side would be had he appointed Pako Ayestarán instead of Gary Neville back in December. The former coach oversaw 16 games and won three, against Espanyol, Granada and Málaga. The current boss has overseen three games and won two, against Sevilla and Barcelona. Eibar are no huge fans of the away game and the feel-good factor at Mestalla after Sunday’s heroics will be difficult to resist. The reflex reaction of the home support to reach for their hankies will be easier to ignore for now.

Sporting (18) – Sevilla (7) Prediction: away win

Sporting were a little unfortunate to leave Las Palmas with just a point on Saturday and will fancy their chances of extending Sevilla’s extraordinary run: Unai Emery likes a stat but the fact that his side are the only top-flight team in Spain, England, Italy, France and Germany without an away win is verging on a joke now. Emery won’t be chuckling though, as Sevilla have slipped from fifth to seventh over the last four match days on the back of three defeats and a draw. Hellas Verona shared Sevilla’s away record until two weeks ago. On the basis of it has to happen at some point, as the Serie A strugglers proved…

Real Madrid (3) – Villarreal (4) Prediction: home win

Real Madrid have the unlikeliest title triumph firmly in their sights after Barcelona’s recent collapse and won’t be at home to Señor cock-up in the Bernabéu on Wednesday night. Zinedine Zidane rested Sergio Ramos, Casemiro and Luka Modric for the 5-1 stroll in Getafe with an eye on this game and the momentum built up over the past few weeks, coupled with the tangible prospect of Barça’s woes continuing in Riazor, should be too much for the visitors to derail.

Real Sociedad (9) – Getafe (20) Prediction: home win

Getafe slipped to the bottom of the table at the weekend and have picked up just two points in their last 13 games. On the road, the Azulones have reaped five points from a possible 48 this season. Real Sociedad’s home form has been far less rocky and as Clubber Lang predicted before he took on Balboa: “Pain.”

Granada (17) – Levante (19) Prediction: home win

Levante leapfrogged Getafe to the dizzy heights of 19th with a 2-1 victory over Espanyol and are two points adrift of the safety of 17th, where Granada currently sit. Levante’s away form has been dreadful but Rubí knows that greater tests await in the run-in. The visitors cannot afford to play for a draw but neither can the hosts, who face Celta, Sevilla and Barça before the end of the season.