Villarreal – Sporting (Friday 20:45) Prediction: home win
Time is running out for Sporting and if Rubi’s side lose this one they can start thinking about away days in Zaragoza and Elche next season: Leganés are six points clear of Sporting with four games to play. Unfortunately Villarreal have their own issues – holding off Athletic and Real Sociedad for fifth and direct Europa League entry. Sporting have once away all season in 17 attempts. Villarreal have lost four out of 17 at home.
Real Sociedad – Granada (Saturday 13:00) Prediction: home win
Granada are also in deep trouble and will be down by the end of the weekend if Leganés win. Tony Adams’ side have the worst away record in the division – zero wins and four draws – and not even die-hard Nazaríes will be backing their side against Sociedad, who have been beaten at home just four times this season and only by teams in the current top six.
Real Madrid – Valencia (Saturday 16:15) Prediction: home win
If this game was at Mestalla, Madrid fans would be nervously fingering the collars of their shirts but Valencia are coming off the back of two straight defeats and Los Che have been poor away from home this season. That said, Voro’s side have picked up a point in four of their last five visits to the Bernabéu and beat Zidane’s team 2-1 earlier in the season. Valencia always relish making life difficult for Madrid but the sensible bet is on a home win.
Las Palmas – Atlético (Saturday 18:30) Prediction: draw
This is the sort of game that Las Palmas may find a bit of extra motivation for and Diego Simeone’s side are back in danger of missing out on third after losing to Villarreal in midweek. Atlético have been struggling to find the back of the net on the road and have been held to draws at Depor, Alavés, Madrid and Athletic since the turn of the year. Las Palmas have lost just twice at home all season, by a single goal against Sevilla and Real Sociedad, and could further frustrate Atlético’s bid for third in Gran Canaria.
Espanyol – Barcelona (Saturday 20:45) Prediction: away win
Espanyol haven’t won the Barcelona derby at home in 10 years but there have been plenty of draws as the Parakeets tend to raise their game for the visit of their arch-rivals. However, Barcelona are firmly back in the title race after beating Madrid and Leo Messi was in sparkling form as Barça dismantled Osasuna last time out. The return of Neymar and a rested Luis Suárez will just prove too much against a solid but not particularly inspiring Espanyol.
Osasuna – Deportivo (Sunday 12:00) Prediction: Prediction: home win
Osasuna are already down and that knowledge may remove some inhibitions – although unlike erstwhile Villa captain Joleon Lescott nobody will be silly enough to say so. However, long-suffering Rojillo fans deserve a bit of light relief after a miserable season and we fancy Osasuna to go all out here as they really have no reason not to anymore, while Depor must err on the side of caution for another week at least.
Betis – Alavés (Sunday 16:15) Prediction: home win
Betis are safe after back-to-back wins over Eibar and Celta and looked up for it in San Mamés on Thursday in a 2-1 loss. Under Víctor Betis have been tough to beat at home and this late-season renaissance could continue against visiting Alavés, who have been held to a draw in their last two outings while scoring only once. Tosca, Rubén Pardo and Joaquín will return for the home side after being rested in San Mamés and that could prove the difference.
Eibar – Leganés (Sunday 18:30) Prediction: home win
In the lower divisions this fixture pretty much always ended up in a draw, with Eibar winning once and Leganés twice in their last 11 fixtures. Their first in the top flight ended in a 1-1 draw in Butarque and although it is tempting not to thumb our nose at history Eibar are favourites against a side who haven’t won on the road since October 1 and in Mendizorrotza the home side have only been beaten by the big boys this season (other than an anomalous loss to Osasuna in week four).
Celta – Athletic (Sunday 20:45) Prediction: away win
Celta will have their eyes on a different ball this weekend – the Europa League double-header against Manchester United - and Eduardo Berizzo will ring the changes from the side that lost in Seville. Athletic could capitalise on a half-strength Celta, who have nothing to play for in LaLiga but everything to gain in Europe, including a potential Champions League place.
Málaga – Sevilla (Monday 21:00) Prediction: draw
Mariano, Vicente Iborra and Ganso are out for the visitors as Málaga look to continue their resurgence under former Real Madrid man Míchel, who has guided his side to four wins in their last five games including 2-0 successes over Barcelona and Valencia. Sevilla are a tough prospect at home but struggle to keep clean sheets on the road and Málaga should be expected to at least hold Jorge Sampaoli’s side.