LALIGA

LaLiga Santander predictions: matchday 8

Las Palmas – Espanyol (Friday 20.45) Prediction: home win. Result 0-0

“You don’t reach your objectives after seven games,” said Espanyol coach Quique Sánchez Flores ahead of his side’s trip to Las Palmas. You certainly don’t, Quique, but languishing in 17th probably wasn’t in the Espanyol board’s early season objectives and comparisons with the league’s other Quique, whose side sit 10 places higher up the table, won’t be comfortable for Sánchez Flores. Neither will this match. Las Palmas are unbeaten at the Estadio de Gran Canaria and have conceded fewer than Real Madrid and Barça at home thus far.

Photo: Carlos Diaz-Recio DIARIO AS

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Leganés – Sevilla (Saturday 13.00) Prediction: draw. Result 2-3

Sevilla’s run without an away win is getting beyond a joke now and Jorge Sampaoli really doesn't look like a man who enjoys bad jokes. Sevilla last won on the road on the final day of the 2014-15 season and although they have some way to go to match Hércules’ Herculean effort of 72 away games sans three points between 8 December 1940 and 12 March 1967, Leganés will be aware of their opponents’ travel sickness. Whether that will help a side that has picked up just one of 10 points this season at home remains to be seen.

Photo: DIARIO AS DIARIO AS

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Barcelona – Deportivo (Saturday 16.15) Prediction: home win. Result 4-0

Barcelona should have Leo Messi back for the visit of Depor to try and add a bit of make-up to a record at Camp Nou that currently reads won one, drawn one, lost one. Ivan Rakitic and Jordi Alba will be missing though, which won’t help Luis Enrique’s cause. Depor have struggled for goals (5) but have only conceded six so far and will be confident of keeping matters fairly close but the Messi factor should tip the balance for a narrow home win.

Photo: FERNANDO ZUERAS DIARIO AS

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Atlético – Granada (Saturday 18.30) Prediction: home win. Result 7-1

Granada have never beaten Atlético at the Calderón, the Andalusian club’s record at the soon-to-be demolished stadium reading played 16, lost 15, drawn one. Propping up the table after the rather disastrous and short-lived reign of Paco Jémez, there is little hope for the travelling fans of witnessing a “Miracle of the Manzanares.” Diego Simeone’s side have escaped the Fifa virus largely unscathed and Antoine Griezmann will fancy his chances of adding to his Pichichi-topping haul against a side that have shipped 16 goals already.

Photo: Mariscal EFE

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Betis – Real Madrid (Saturday 20.45) Prediction: draw. Result 1-6

The Villamarín was the scene of Zinedine Zidane’s first reverse as Real boss last season and Betis have a decent record historically at home; last season’s 1-1 draw, 2012’s 1-0 win (with Cristiano Ronaldo on the wrong end of the score sheet) and three consecutive 1-1 draws from 2002-03 to 2004-05. Real will be missing the spine of their side in Sergio Ramos, Casemiro and Luka Modric while Betis are unbeaten at home and have Rubén Castro banging them in for fun. Could it be five in a row for Real? If Betis can survive the inevitable early onslaught it could well be.

Photo: Mariscal EFE

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Alavés – Málaga (Sunday 12.00) Prediction: draw. Result 1-1

Alavés' barnstorming start to the season has dropped off somewhat and the harsh reality of life in the top flight is setting in after one win in their last four games -- and that was against Granada. However, Málaga, much like Jack Kerouac, are utter dross on the road and this is probably one to file under "no-score pre-lunch siesta."

Photo: MIGUEL MORENATTI DIARIO AS

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Athletic – Real Sociedad (Sunday 16.15) Prediction: draw

Few stats raise an eyebrow at AS Towers but Athletic’s recent record in the Basque derby was a Carlo Ancelotti job. The Lions haven’t won the regional slug-fest since March 2012 with La Real claiming the spoils on four occasions and the other four meetings ending in a draw. Three of those were 1-1 and the other goalless and the most recent derby ended 1-0 to Sociedad at San Mamés back in February. Seven goals in the course of the last five suggests this won’t be one for the record books and honours even looks the safest bet in Bilbao

Photo: Luis Tejido DIARIO AS

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Sporting – Valencia (Sunday 18.30) Prediction: away win

Both Sporting and Valencia have been several shades of rotten so far this season, leaking 30 goals between them and occupying 16th and 18th respectively as a result. Valencia may get a bit of a shot in the arm from having a seasoned task-master at the helm in Cesare Prandelli, whose prescription for Los Che’s early season woes has been the reintroduction of “The Ramp.” Valencia certainly have a mountain to climb to get anything out of this season and victory at El Molinón will be a start

Photo: DAVID GONZALEZ DIARIO AS

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Villarreal – Celta (Sunday 20.45) Prediction: home win

The meeting of two sides with a proud tradition of playing swift football with the round thing firmly on the deck, the action at El Madrigal has been scheduled in the prime time slot and hopefully won't disappoint. There should be a few goals; Celta have Fabián Orellana back and Villarreal can once again call on Cédric Bakambu. The home side are one of three remaining unbeaten in Primera and have looked particularly strong on their own turf.

Photo: MIGUEL MORENATTI DIARIO AS

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Eibar – Osasuna (Monday 20.45) Prediction: home win

Eibar have beaten Valencia and Sociedad at home and held Sevilla. The Basques will be just too strong for an Osasuna side that can score goals but can't settle on a formation, can't stop conceding and can't but a first win of the season.

Photo: MIGUEL MORENATTI DIARIO AS

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10 / 10