Barcelona remain top of LaLiga but their comfortable double-digit lead has been cut to just five points ahead of the visit to the Camp Nou of second-placed Atlético Madrid. Find out what the AS Oracle predicts will happen in that and all the other games this weekend...but don't wager the mortgage on it!
Villarreal – Girona (Saturday 13:00) Prediction: draw
Girona have not beaten Villarreal since a 2-0 victory in Segunda in 2012 and arrive at the Cerámica on a run of two consecutive away defeats at Barça and Sevilla. That said, the home side have been poor in recent weeks and are struggling to find the net, hitting just four in their last five games. Girona are sneaking up on the European places and have been good value for some away draws this season and could well nick a point that would pull them level on points with seventh-placed Eibar.
Sevilla – Athletic (Saturday 16:15) Prediction: away win
Athletic have not been enjoying their travels recently and head south to the Sánchez Pizjuán on the back of consecutive 2-0 defeats at Girona and Atlético. The Lions have won only three on the road all season but do tend to score more away than they do at San Mamés. Sevilla have shipped five at home twice in four games under Vincenzo Montella so a few goals can’t be ruled out. Montella made six changes to the side that were beaten 5-2 by Atlético as his team carved out a 1-0 victory over Málaga midweek but Sevilla remain very shaky defensively and Athletic could profit for a first away win of 2018.
Deportivo – Eibar (Saturday 18:30) Prediction: draw
Depor’s brief improvement under Clarence Seedorf has been short-lived, a 3-0 drubbing at Getafe coming on the heels of a valuable point at home against Espanyol. Worryingly for the Riazor faithful though is that the Dutchman’s side have still yet to score since his appointment last month. They may have tightened up at the back, conceding just twice in Seedorf’s first three games, but against an Eibar side who were unbeaten in five on the road before losing to Celta that may not be enough for victory. The least Seedorf will expect is a clean sheet and given Depor can’t buy a goal a game with none involved could be on the cards.
Leganés – Málaga (Saturday 18:30) Prediction: home win
It looks very much like nothing will save Málaga now. A brief flicker of hope under new manager José Manuel González – two draws – has given way to resignation and The Anchovies have lost their last five, albeit narrowly. Leganés themselves are on a run of six games without a win and have scored only once during that time so a free-flowing goal-fest probably won’t unfold in Butarque. Ten points off the drop zone and a 17-point advantage over rock-bottom Málaga is a decent cushion for Lega but if they want to ensure their Primera status a victory on Saturday against a side with just three wins this season would be a good place to start.
Real Madrid – Getafe (Saturday 20:45) Prediction: home win
Getafe last won in the Bernabéu 10 years ago in somewhat bizarre circumstances and face a Madrid side who will be eager to get back to winning ways ahead of their trip to Paris after another defeat at the hands of Espanyol in the midweek fixtures. Zinedine Zidane is likely to field as close to the side he will send out in the French capital as possible, which should mean a return for Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema alongside Gareth Bale, who was isolated in Cornellà filling in as a striker. The return of Marcelo will add some attacking threat and despite Real’s Liga woes this season even the most daring of punters won’t be backing Geta, who have scored only eight times outside the Coliseum in 2017-18.
Blast from the past: Ten years since Uche and the most bizarre Bernabéu goal
Levante – Espanyol (Sunday 12:00) Prediction: draw
Levante and Espanyol have racked up 21 draws between them this season and five of their last 10 meetings have been stalemates, with four 2-1 results. The form book is there to be torn up of course but all the evidence points to X marking the spot for a fairly uninspiring affair in the Ciutat de Valencia. Espanyol have drawn four of their last five, ending that run against Madrid in midweek, while Levante will happily settle for one after losing their last four.
Barcelona – Atlético (Sunday 16:15) Prediction: draw
The game of the weekend, and possibly the most important of the season so far for both sides. Win, and Atlético will be within two points of the Liga leaders. A home victory would see Barça move eight clear of Diego Simeone’s second-placed side with 11 games remaining. The Argentinean has never beaten Barcelona in the league while Ernesto Valverde has never scored a domestic victory over his counterpart. The two sides drew 1-1 when they met earlier in the season and both coaches will probably see a similar scoreline as perfectly acceptable in Camp Nou and more so Simeone, whose side are on a run of six consecutive victories while Barça have drawn three of their last five.
Track records: Simeone-Valverde: something has to give in Camp Nou
Real Sociedad – Alavés (Sunday 18:30) Prediction: home win
Sociedad have blown hot and cold this season and will require an astounding run-in to have any chance of European football next season after going out of the Europa League at the hands of Salzburg: 11 points and nine places separate the Txuri-urdin from sixth but their last two home games have reaped a 5-0 drubbing of Depor and a 3-0 victory over Levante, notable as much in that Eusebio’s side managed two clean sheets – only Las Palmas and Depor have conceded more this season. Alavés have won four of their last five but only have two wins on the road under Abelardo, whose rescue job has been firmly rooted upon his side’s form in Mendizorrotza.
Valencia – Betis (Sunday 20:45) Prediction: home win
Quique Setién’s unpredictable Betis were involved in their first goalless draw of the season against Real Sociedad but remain capable of whacking in three or four in any given game. Valencia have recovered from their January slump, are unbeaten in four and have failed to score in as many games all season. A lot depends on whether Setién decides to play Marcelino at his own game with his recently favoured three-at-the-back gung-ho approach or opts to try and stifle Valencia’s attacking threat from the flanks. We suspect he’ll go for the former option and go down swinging in a high-scoring Valencia victory.
Celta – Las Palmas (Monday 21:00) Prediction: home win
There is probably no more frustrating manager for a club’s fans than Paco Jémez, who is equally capable of holding Barcelona at home as he is as taking a historic battering at Girona. Jémez has tightened Las Palmas up and recorded two consecutive 0-0s on the road but the Canary Islanders have still only beaten Málaga away from home this season. Jémez will be seeking to avoid defeat in Balaídos rather than chasing an unlikely victory but will struggle to contain Iago Aspas and company, who have rattled in nine in their last four home games.