Las Palmas – Villarreal (Friday 20:45) Prediction: away win. Result 1-0
Villarreal are on an upward curve with four wins from their last five games, and the single loss was against Real Madrid in a game that the Submarine probably should have won. Las Palmas have been struggling a bit since February, with five losses in their last seven punctuated only in victory at home against basement boys Osasuna. The home side have scored 11 goals in their last three Liga outings but can’t defend a lead and even without Sergio Asenjo, Adrián, Denis Cheryshev and possibly Roberto Soldado Villarreal have the away day nous to pick Las Palmas off, having conceded just two on the road since the start of December.
Eibar – Espanyol (Saturday 13:00) Prediction: draw. Result 1-1
Eibar and Espanyol are both in the chase for the European places and sit eighth and ninth respectively. Quique Sánchez Flores’ side have won only once away in 2017 and while Eibar’s home record is phenomenal, with eight wins from 12, a 4-1 mauling by Real Madrid two weeks ago will be fresh in the home side’s mind. Both teams may set up for a result that won’t benefit the other with packed midfields and chances could be at a premium.
Athletic – Real Madrid (Saturday 16:15) Prediction: away win. Result 1-2
The spoils have been shared in this one over the last three seasons, with Real winning last year, Athletic claiming the points the year before and a draw in the campaign before that. All three games were characterized by a (comparative) lack of goals, both sides winning by a single strike and managing one each when the points were shared. Real can’t afford any slip-ups and welcome back Gareth Bale after suspension while Athletic have their full armoury available up top as well. It will be a tough game for the visitors but 1-2 sounds about right.
Alavés – Real Sociedad (Saturday 18:30) Prediction: draw. Result 1-0
Alavés have a better record than Real Sociedad in this fixture down the years and have held visiting sides to a draw on seven occasions this season. La Real meanwhile are the only Primera side this season yet to share the points away from home, with eight wins and five losses. We said it last year about Sevilla’s bizarre run on the road and we’ll say it again: it has to end sometime and with Asier Illaramendi suspended the visitors will struggle to control the midfield.
Betis – Osasuna (Saturday 20:45) Prediction: home win. Result 2-0
There are only so many combinations of words in the English language to describe how bad Osasuna have been this season but 34 goals conceded away from home alone is a start. One win all season (albeit at Eibar) is another. That win came on October 17 and since then Osasuna have gained just five points from 19 games as the Navarrese go down swinging but without landing any blows. Betis’ home form is far from stellar – just four wins all season – but the home side will see this as what it is: a chance to effectively secure their Primera status against one of the worst outfits the decision has ever witnessed.
Leganés – Málaga (Sunday 12:00) Prediction: draw. Result 0-0
After a run of four consecutive defeats Leganés have picked up seven points from their last four games to put six between them and the relegation scrap. Málaga sit only one place and one point higher in 16th and the sensation that a point apiece will suit both sides just fine pervades, particularly as the visitors share the dubious distinction with Granada of failing to win a single away game this season.
Atlético – Sevilla (Sunday 16:15) Prediction: home win. Result 3-0
The Bard made a fool of Romeo and his fortune back in the day and his namesake did exactly the same to Jorge Sampaoli midweek as Leicester pulled off quite the sensational to dump Sevilla out of the Champions League. It’s easy to see the visitors not being exactly pumped up for this one against an Atlético side whose own fates in Europe were sealed satisfactorily. Sevilla also haven’t won in the Calderón in seven attempts since a 1-0 win in 2008.
Deportivo – Celta (Sunday 18:30) Prediction: home win
Depor hold the upper hand historically when the Derbi gallego is at Riazor and there is absolutely no doubt that new manager Pepe Mel has had an immediate effect on the side: four games, two draws, two victories and the last of those was a 2-1 triumph over Barcelona that has basically already assured him of a gig on the north coast next season. Do a job on Celta, who were in midweek action in the Europa League, to reach 30 points from a precarious position just three weeks ago and there’ll be a statue of Mel in Vigo on Monday.
Sporting – Granada (Sunday 18:30) Prediction: draw
Both sides desperately need a win in El Molinón to have any chance of pulling clear of the mire and as a general rule of thumb that leads to a nervous, error-strewn encounter which ends in a 1-1 draw and does neither a single iota of good.
Barcelona – Valencia (Sunday 20:45) Prediction: home win
Games between these two are often humdingers and Barcelona clearly rate Valencia, as the Camp Nou's regular cherry-picking excursions to the east coast weaken Sunday's opponents on a regular basis. With the Champions League miracle complete Luis Enrique won’t be tempted to try the B Team approach that backfired last weekend in Riazor. The visitors are without attacking trio Rodrigo, Santi Mina and the mercurial Nani while Barça are at full strength and the requirement to keep up the pressure on Real Madrid will be too much for Valencia, however resurgent they may be, to prevent.
Follow the coverage match of the week 29 of the Liga Santander between: Real Madrid-Alavés