Athletic – Las Palmas (Friday 21:00) Prediction: home win
Athletic’s 10-game unbeaten run his the buffers away at Girona last weekend and The Lions have struggled for goals at San Mamés this season, finding the net just eight times in 10 games. Las Palmas have improved under Paco Jémez but only at home: their last two Liga outings have resulted in a 6-0 drubbing at Girona and a 3-0 loss at Atlético. The return of Kepa Arrizabalaga to the Athletic sticks should help to keep it to nil at one end and Aritz Aduriz is always worth a punt to find the net at the other.
Villarreal – Alavés (Saturday 13:00) Prediction: home win
The Aberlardo effect has seen Alavés clamber out of the bottom three but they have profited in Mendizorrotza considerably more than on the road, where they’ve lost their last three for a return of only one goal. Villarreal have a lengthy injury list but the spine of the Submarine’s side is intact and the possibility of chasing down Real Madrid for fourth place a pretty effective motivation tool.
Málaga – Atlético (Saturday 16:15) Prediction: away win
Basement boys Málaga haven’t won a Liga game since December 10 and have picked up three points only three times all season. New coach José Manuel González has steadied the ship a little after four consecutive defeats without a goal did for Míchel but injuries are piling up on the south coast while Atlético roll into town with their full complement of attacking strength. Málaga have won this fixture (home and away) twice in 14 attempts and there is little to suggest they'll add to that modest haul on Saturday.
Leganés – Eibar (Saturday 18:30) Prediction: draw
Never underestimate Eibar. Equally, never underestimate Leganés, who will be smarting from their Copa defeat at the hands of Sevilla, denying the Cucumber Growers a first final of any kind in the club’s history. Eibar were ruthless in their 5-1 destruction of Sevilla last weekend but don’t always travel so well and certainly don’t score that many on the road – The Gunners have managed the same number in their last four away games, but are unbeaten during that run. The suspicion is that Leganés may not be entirely up for this one and a low scoring draw seems a decent bet.
Real Madrid – Real Sociedad (Saturday 20:45) Prediction: home win
Talk of a crisis at Real Madrid has all but ceased, but only because the train wreck of the champions’ 2017-18 domestic season has moved beyond that. Zinedine Zidane’s side face a genuine battle for fourth and their season rests on getting past PSG in the Champions League, with the first leg to be played at the Bernabéu next Wednesday. That may lead Zidane to a few changes, especially in defence where he is a little short already, but Sociedad haven’t won in Chamartín since 2004 and have failed to pick up a point there since 2006. Zidane will be aware of the need for a morale-boosting win and the hosts should get one without too many problems, particularly with Sociedad’s top scorer, Willian José, ruled out.
Sevilla – Girona (Sunday 12:00) Prediction: home win
Sevilla reached the final of the Copa del Rey this week and are still in the chase for the Champions League places having lost just once at home all season. That was a manic 5-3 derby defeat against Betis, a game where all bets are off, and Vincenzo Montella’s second home game in charge was a 1-1 draw against Getafe. The new coach has won some friends in the Copa del Rey but desperately needs a home win to assuage the growing rumble of Liga dissent. Keep Cristhian Stuani and Portu quiet and Sevilla should do just that.
Barcelona – Getafe (Sunday 16:15) Prediction: home win
If this was being played in the Coliseúm then Getafe would be in with a shout against the league leaders, who may have to drop Sergio Busquets back into central defence with only Yerry Mina fit for this one. It’s Luis Suárez and Leo Messi the visitors have to worry about though with the Barça front two scoring for fun. Geta have not won on the road since September 8, their only away win of the season.
Celta – Espanyol (Sunday 18:30) Prediction: home win
Only Messi and Suárez have scored more goals than Iago Aspas in the league and only the Argentinean has laid more on than Pione Sisto. Carlos “The Rock” Sánchez will add some much needed steel to Espanyol’s midfield and Gerard Moreno is always dangerous but the Parakeets have been shocking away from home this season, beating only Málaga so far in 10 attempts.
Valencia – Levante (Sunday 20:45) Prediction: home win
Marcelino’s side have now lost five of their last seven, puncturing a promising-looking title tilt and leaving Madrid breathing down their necks in fourth. Three consecutive losses can be mitigated in part by Real and Atlético inflicting two of them but Valencia desperately need to get back on track. Levante are missing two of their key players, Jefferson Lerma and Ivi, for the trip to Mestalla, where the home crowd should carry Los Che over the line.
Deportivo – Betis (Monday 21:00) Prediction: draw
Fun statistic: Betis keeper Antonio Adán has been beaten more than any of his peers in La Liga this season, but Betis do not top the list for goals conceded. That honor goes to Depor, who have managed three clean sheets all season and ship an average of 2.3 goals a game. Expect either a cagey 0-0 or a frantic 3-3 in Riazor.