Primera División predictions week 12: LaLiga 2017-18
The Oracle returns after the international break with his crystal ball bursting with footballing wisdom.
Girona – Real Sociedad (Friday 21:00) Prediction: draw
Girona have been busy bloodying the noses of the big boys this season but often fall short against the second-tier sides. However, they have won their last three 2-1 and few would have expected them to be in the top 10 at this stage of the season. Sociedad blow hot and cold away from home, with three wins and two defeats, 10 scored and nine conceded. The home side won’t be going all gung-ho against a European challenger and a 1-1 feels about right in Montilivi, where Girona struggle more to pick off opponents than they do away.
Getafe – Alavés (Saturday 13:00) Prediction: home win
Alavés have scored just twice away from home in five games, both of those coming in one of only two wins all season against Levante. Getafe are not a side to get pulses racing, even in Getafe, but the Azulones turned it on against Villarreal and beat Sociedad in the Coliseum. Their other home games have been against Barcelona, Real Madrid and Sevilla, with predictable results. The visit of Alavés won’t be of any particular concern after each of those three escaped the southern Madrid suburb with three points courtesy of a single goal. Home isn’t where the heart is for Getafe, but they have cojones to spare.
Leganés – Barcelona (Saturday 16:15) Prediction: away win
“If we go out to enjoy ourselves against Barcelona they’ll put five or six past us,” Asier Garitano noted ahead of the visit of the Liga leaders. That may be a stretch against a Lega side who have conceded just twice in five games at home but the fact the Cucumber Growers have scored only three at Butarque suggests this game may be one Garitano is eyeing as damage limitation. Barça may not run amok but there won’t be a whole lot of 1s on coupons across the land.
Sevilla – Celta (Saturday 18:30) Prediction: home win
That Sevilla are hovering around the European places is due entirely to the home form of Eduardo Berizzo’s side, who perform on the road about as coherently as Jack Kerouac. Celta somehow conspired to hand Málaga a first win of the season two fixtures ago but returned to form by knocking three past Athletic in Balaídos. Sevilla, though, are unbeaten at home, have won their last four on the trot in the Sánchez Pizjuán and have conceded only twice on home turf. Berizzo also has one of the league’s most underrated attacking midfield fours, who should fill their boots against a leaky Celta defence.
Atlético – Real Madrid (Saturday 20:45) Prediction: draw
Two sides who can’t score and can’t defend are already facing the prospect of being out of the Liga running by Xmas and one, Diego Simeone’s Atlético, are all-but condemned to sleep with the Champions League's ugly sister in the new year. It’s one of those that could end 4-3 or 0-0, depending on whether either side can relocate their scoring boots or defensive nous. We rather feel that the chips will fall somewhere in between. Neither side can afford to lose in the Metropolitano and a 1-1 draw represents the shortest odds at most bookmakers. If you add Ronaldo, C. and Griezmann, A. to pop those in from the spot, you might be on to something.
Málaga – Deportivo (Sunday 12:00) Prediction: draw
Míchel continues to defy our Liga 2017-18 predictions by clinging grimly to his post La Rosaleda but perhaps we didn’t take into account the simple equation that anybody willing to work under Málaga owner Nasser Al Thani must be either very stubborn or supremely confident in their own ability. Míchel is probably both, but Málaga are rotten to the core this season. The return of club legend Duda to oversee the cantera bodes well for the future but despite a job-saving win over Celta, the Anchovies returned to the status quo last time out away at Villarreal. A draw seems the obvious call here given Depor’s struggles on the road but it won’t be a thriller. We’re suggesting a 0-0 to accompany the pre-lunch aperitif.
Espanyol – Valencia (Sunday 16:15) Prediction: away win
Marcelino has Valencia fans dreaming of a return to the big time and Los Che have battered in as many goals this season as Barcelona. Unbeaten home and away, Valencia have almost matched their scoring record in Mestalla away from home, 16 to 14. Marcelino’s side are considerably more vulnerable at the other end on the road, conceding nine compared to two on home soil, but Espanyol have not been bothering opposition keepers anywhere thus far, bagging a measly nine overall. Even if Simone Zaza fails a late fitness test, it’s difficult to look beyond the away win in Cornellà.
Las Palmas – Levante (Sunday 18:30) Prediction: draw
Las Palmas have lost their last seven games and although Girona did their thing in the Ciutat de Valencia, Levante had been beaten just three times before, holding rampant Valencia and Real Madrid in successive games back in September. However, the Frogs aren’t exactly leaping at the moment, having failed to pick up three points since tonking Sociedad at home two months ago and the suspicion is that Pako Ayesterán will seek to keep his job for another week by parking the team bus in front of the goal in the Estadio de Gran Canaria.
Athletic – Villarreal (Sunday 20:45) Prediction: home win
Athletic have been poor this season but Villarreal, who have enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent weeks and like Ashford and Simpson are solid as a rock at home, haven’t impressed on the road and last left San Mamés with three points in 2010-11. We won’t lie: this is a heart over head call but the thought of the Lions surrendering their pride by going down this season just isn’t on. A cheeky 1-0 win should set Athletic back on track.
Eibar – Betis (Monday 21:00) Prediction: away win
Eibar are in dire straits and the news that playmaker Pedro León is out for a further three months isn’t going to lift the mood at Ipurua one little bit. Betis, meanwhile, have rediscovered their joie de vivre under Quique Setién after years of stagnation and are odds on to further the Gunners’ misery in the ever-popular Monday night slot.