LALIGA WEEK 24
AS English LaLiga predictions: 2017/18 week 24
The AS English in-house Oracle has gazed deep into that second-hand crystal ball of his and offers his view of how the weekend's Spanish games will transpire.
Girona – Leganés (Friday 21:00) Prediction: home win
“It's just like watching Man City” would be a nicely ironic chant from away fans at Montilivi if 1: there were any away fans in LaLiga and 2: fans in LaLiga did ironic chants. Whatever your view of City's growing empire it's certainly doing the job at Girona, who are basically safe in their first ever Primera campaign with 15 games to spare. Refreshingly it hasn't been City's army of loan starlets serving as the banner for this very modern arrangement but an old school 31-year-old journeyman Uruguayan: Christian Stuani has banged in 12 Liga goals this season and 10 of those have come at home. Leganés are missing seven first teamers in Siovas, Szymanowski, Dos Santos, Brasanac, Gabriel, Tito and Omar so Girona should be a banker in the Friday night game.
Las Palmas – Sevilla (Saturday 13:00) Prediction: home win
This could well be Jonathan Viera’s final game for Las Palmas. The influential attacking midfielder looks set to join Beijing Guoan next week and the question is: will he go out with a bang or be left on the bench? Sevilla are likely to have an eye on next week as well with Manchester United awaiting and Vincenzo Montella’s side seem to have forgotten where the onion bag is anyway so we’ll have a punt on an improved Las Palmas to sneak this one.
Eibar – Barcelona (Saturday 16:15) Prediction: away win
“We have to be extra careful…” Gerard Piqué said this week but with Atleti facing a gruelling Europa League campaign and winning ugly in LaLiga each week Barça can afford themselves a little breather domestically. Chelsea will be in Ernesto Valverde’s thoughts and although his side's aura of invincibility has taken a bit of a knock he may be tempted to rest players in Ipurua. Still, with a full squad and after two consecutive draws there's little chance of lightning striking Barça’s title waltz thrice. Is there?
Alavés- Deportivo (Saturday 18:30) Prediction: draw
Deportivo looked hugely improved under Clarence Seedorf last Monday and reduced free scoring Betis to a single goal, and that came in stoppage time. After shipping seven in the Bernabéu and five in Anoeta that's the sort of small detail that may yet keep Depor up. Alavés have chucked themselves a lifeline in recent weeks as well with two consecutive 2-1 victories to lift them to 16th and seven points clear of the drop zone. Seedorf will be keen to keep this one tight and a draw will do the new Depor nicely given the circumstances.
Málaga – Valencia (Saturday 20:45) Prediction: away win
Málaga stopped swimming a long time ago and the only question now is when they will mathematically sink into Segunda. Without a win since December and without a goal in their last three games under new coach José Manuel González, the home side are likely to be picked off by a Valencia side who snapped a three-game losing streak in the derby last weekend and will be looking to reinforce their position in the top four against the divisional whipping boys.
Real Sociedad – Levante (Sunday 12:00) Predition: home win
Real Sociedad will take a lot of heart from their comeback against Salzburg in the Europa League, even if the defensive frailty that has dogged their season allowed the visitors to level in stoppage time. Levante are still missing too many key personnel to launch an assault on Anoeta and The Frogs’ away form makes for some dismal reading: one win on the road all season, at a previously flailing Las Palmas back in November.
Atlético – Athletic (Sunday 16:15) Prediction: home win
Athletic scored three goals for only the third time this season away at Spartak Moscow (Europe League qualifiers notwithstanding) while Atlético put the same number past Copenhagen. In LaLiga though neither side have been scoring for fun with The Lions particularly struggling to find the net. Athletic do score more away from home though and could trouble an Atleti side likely to be missing the bed-ridden Jan Oblak, who missed the trip to Denmark with flu. That said, Atlético have only conceded four in the Metropolitano this season and are more than capable of chalking up yet another 1-0 win.
Espanyol – Villarreal (Sunday 18:30) Prediction: home win
The Submarine are struggling with injuries and have lost their last two while Espanyol have a clean bill of health and have held Barça and Celta over the same period. A 3-1 defeat at Lyon in the Europa League won’t have helped Villarreal’s confidence a great deal and Quique Sánchez Flores has had the week to prepare his players for this one. Add the in-form Gerard Moreno to the ingredients and after baking for 90 minutes in Cornellà, we fancy a home win will be on the menu.
Betis – Real Madrid (Sunday 20:45) Prediction: away win
Both sides have goals in them and we could be on for a thriller in Sevilla on Sunday evening. Real will be buzzing from their stunning comeback against PSG while Betis are ticking over nicely as well after dispatching Villarreal and Depor after a last-gasp defeat at Celta. Betis have already beaten Madrid this season in the Bernabéu and will be confident of doing so again. Real will be without Toni Kroos but Betis are also lacking the scorer of the only goal in their last meeting, Tonny Sanabria. The visitors are favourites in the Villamarín but they won’t have it all their way. 3-2 sounds like a possible punt.
Getafe – Celta (Monday 21:00) Prediction: draw
Geta', fresh from holding Barça to a goalless draw in Camp Nou last week, will be confident of stopping Iago Aspas from adding to his impressive tally this season at the Coliseum, where the Azulones have conceded just nine in 12 games. Whether Aspas and company play ball with the home side’s designs is open to question but Getafe have drawn their last four games on the trot and will happily make that five against a side who have scored more away goals than Atlético, Betis and Villarreal have managed at home this season.