LaLiga predictions: week 31
The AS Oracle looks forward to a weekend of action headlined by Saturday's derby between Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid.
Villarreal – Athletic (Friday 20:45) Prediction: home win
This is a big one for both sides. Villarreal sit in fifth, a point ahead of Athletic in sixth and victory either way will go some way to ensuring the glamour of away days in Krasnodar next year. Both sides won last time out but Athletic’s away form this season suggests the Submarine will be bobbing about in fifth still when the final whistle sounds in the Céramica.
Espanyol – Alavés (Saturday 13:00) Prediction: draw
Two evenly matched sides with attacking styles and one in more need than the other points to a pretty open game in Cornellà with a fair bit of onion bag-bothering involved. Espanyol retain slim hopes of Europe and can’t afford to play the percentages while Alavés are in the enviable position of having nada left to play for – they’re safe and out of the running for any continental soirees next season so have no reason not to go for it in every game. Honours even.
Real Madrid – Atlético (Saturday 16:15) Prediction: away win
Let’s be perfectly frank: Real Madrid have been riding luck like a weary nag ever since Zinedine Zidane rocked up and it has to end sometime. Atlético have enjoyed the better of the derby in the Bernabéu under Diego Simeone and it’s high time the 93rd-minuters were dealt a reality check. If the Oracle is exuding a tinge of partisanship on this one it is no accident. Real’s defence is one waiting to happen and Atlético have the tools to loosen a few screws in the leader’s title challenge on Saturday.
Sevilla – Deportivo (Saturday 18:30) Prediction: home win
Sevilla’s season has suddenly become rather pointless and the prospect of a Champions League playoff is about all Jorge Samapoli’s side can expect now. Securing the fourth-place trophy is the minimum requirement and Sevilla are chalked up at very short odds to maintain or extend their seven point lead over Villarreal against a side with one away win to their name this season.
Málaga – Barcelona (Saturday 20:45) Prediction: draw
The Oracle is not one to ignore a hunch, and we rather fancy Barça to slip up a tad here. The Oracle is also a huge fan of Carlos Kameni, arguably the most criminally underrated keeper in the division, and if the big man puts in another man of the match performance as he did in the 0-0 draw in Camp Nou earlier in the season, Málaga could get something out of this on the wave of picking up a first win under Míchel last time out. And Míchel is a man who will not want to lose to Barcelona.
Granada – Valencia (Sunday 12:00) Prediction: home win
When Gary Neville was ineptly guiding Valencia towards Segunda last season, there was a line of conversation in the office that a season or two in Segunda might not do the basket case Mestalla institution any harm at all. Doubtless Valencia’s owners will do away with perennial caretaker and ship-steadier Voro in the summer in favour of another “iceberg? What iceberg?” appointment and apropos of not much we rather fancy Granada, which is simply the nicest place in Spain, to start clawing their way towards survival in Los Cármenes in Sunday’s early kick-off.
Celta – Eibar (Sunday 16:15) Prediction: away win
It’s that time of year when sides in Celta’s position can be forgiven for scouring the internet for cheap flights to not really giving a toss. That was more than evident when the Galicians chucked away a lead in Mestalla last time out to concede three against a side who had scored that many in a game just three times previously this season. Eibar’s position, within three points of Athletic in sixth and European football next season which would be a huge achievement for a club of such modest means were it to come to fruition, might just see them over the line in Balaídos.
Osasuna – Leganés (18:30) Prediction: home win
Can Osasuna pull off the greatest escape since James Coburn reached the Pyrenees? It has become an option after the Navarrese side picked up just a second win of the season against Alavés. Osasuna have still to treat their fans to a victory in El Sadar and if they are to do so this season, and incredibly avoid the drop, the visit of Leganés is an inviting place to start.
Las Palmas – Betis (Sunday 20:45) Prediction: home win
Betis are in rotten form under Víctor Sánchez and defeat in the Canaries could see the Andalusian club’s owners pull the plug on the Spaniard’s lukewarm tenure. Las Palmas have been equally rotten away from home this season but will rightly view this fixture as a golden opportunity to strengthen their claim for a top-10 finish.
Real Sociedad – Sporting (Monday 20:45) Prediction: home win
Sociedad not unexpectedly dropped three points in the Calderón last time out and a draw against Leganes and defeat to Alavés has seen the txuri-urdin slip from fifth to seventh over their last three games. The visit of Sporting, who have won one away game this season, is exactly what Sociedad need to get their European aspirations back in track.
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