Espanyol – Las Palmas (Friday 20:45) Prediction: home win
The mood in the office on this one was to leave it off the coupon entirely as it really could go either way. Las Palmas’ away record is dreadful – just one win all season – but if Quique Setién’s front line have their day they can trouble any side. Espanyol have only picked up four more points in Cornellá than they have on the road this season but Quique Sanchez Flores’ side are on a bit of a roll at home of late, winning five of their last seven and scoring three or more in four of those.
Valencia – Sporting (Saturday 13:00) Prediction: home win
Valencia are finally moving in the right direction and have climbed to 13th in recent weeks after a run of three consecutive home victories including a morale-boosting 2-1 victory over Real Madrid. Sporting picked up a shot in the arm first away win of the season at Leganés last month but reverted to type in Camp Nou last time out as Barcelona ran riot in a 6-1 victory. The visitors won’t ship that many in Mestalla but Valencia should have too much for them.
Sevilla – Leganés (Saturday 16:15) Prediction: home win
Sevilla are still firmly in the title race and although they have a crucial Champions League clash against Premier League champions Leicester next week, Jorge Sampaoli has a deep and richly talented squad. Leganés reinforced well in January and should escape the drop but the Cucumber Growers have picked up just two points on the road since October 1 and will be outclassed in the Sánchez Pizjuán.
Málaga – Alavés (Saturday 18:30) Prediction: home win
Málaga sacked El Gato Romero during the week and brought in Míchel to steady the ship. The effect of new manager bounce has yet to be proven scientifically but with the Anchovies at home and Alavés without the suspended Alexis and Theo Hernández the visitors may struggle for ideas in La Rosaleda. It probably won’t be pretty but Málaga should sneak this one by a single goal.
Granada – Atlético (Saturday 20:45) Prediction: away win
Atlético are in a position they have not found themselves in for some time: essentially out of the title race, seven points adrift of automatic Champions League qualification and with Real Sociedad as tight to their rear bumper as a parked car in Madrid. Diego Simeone has the Leverkusen return to ponder and is without Gabi and Tiago in midfield and Fernando Torres and Kevin Gameiro up front. That will give Granada a glimmer of hope but the 1-0 machine Simeone patented last season will be rolled out in Los Cármenes against the division’s lowest-scoring side.
Real Sociedad – Athletic (Sunday 12:00) Prediction: draw
If it’s a derby, it’s a draw, as the old prophecy goes and there few derbies as spicy as a Basque brawl by the sea. Sociedad are the form side but not as strong at home as the lofty heights of fifth suggest: the txuri-urdin have 24 points from Anoeta and 24 from away games. The home side are missing two major goal threats in David Zurutuza and Willian José while the visitors can field Iñaki Williams, Raúl García and Aritz Aduriz. A cagey affair may be on the cards from the home side in a game that has a distinct whiff of eau de 1-1. Bizarre stat: Athletic have scored just seven times away from home and along with Leganés are the only side yet to have reached double figures.
Deportivo – Barcelona (Sunday 16:15) Prediction: away win
Barcelona will be in high spirits after their dramatic comeback over PSG in midweek and although Luis Enrique will probably rotate his side it’s hard to see Depor, who have yet to break the 30-goal mark in the league, stopping Barça, who have bagged 76 from running amok at will.
Celta – Villarreal (Sunday 18:30) Prediction: draw
Villarreal have been excellent at home this season but have struggled a little on the road and despite Celta’s Europa League exertions in a 2-1 win over Krasnodar on Thursday the home side will be confident of keeping the Submarine down. The Celestes have won eight and drawn one of 12 in Balaídos this season but are a bit leaky at the back while Villarreal have only won four on the road but the stingiest away defence in the division have conceded just seven times.
Real Madrid – Betis (Sunday 20:45) Prediction: home win
You have to go back to 1998-99 for the last time Betis won in the Bernabéu, and that run is unlikely to come to an end on Sunday. Zinedine Zidane will shuffle his deck after the Napoli game but those players coming in all have a point to prove and none more so that Álvaro Morata, whose lack of a starting place is becoming more of a sore point among Real fans with each comme ci comme ça display Karim Benzema puts in. The visitors are at almost full strength and will probably score given Real have to wait until the summer to buy a clean sheet, but the home side will score more.
Osasuna – Eibar (Monday 20:45) Prediction: away win
Osasuna are a staggering 14 points from safety and have won a single, solitary game all season. That was against Eibar in a 3-2 win in Ipurua last October but a repeat will bust a million coupons in Spain. Simply put, Osasuna are already down and sacking Petar Vasiljevic won’t do any good at this stage – no other manager in his right mind would take the job on at this stage. Eibar on the other hand are completely safe and on the edge of the European places. The visitors will go for this and the home side are duty bound to do the same so a goal-fest can’t be ruled out. If it comes down to who has the worst defence, there’s only winner.
Follow the coverage match of the week 29 of the Liga Santander between: Real Madrid-Alavés