Primera predictions: La Liga 2017-18 week 28
The Oracle has been reading the incessant rain this week and sees few dropped points among Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atlético Madrid and Valencia.
Girona – Deportivo (Friday 21:00) Prediction: home win
Europe-chasing Girona host relegation battlers Depor in the Friday game and the home side are comfortable favourites to add a sixth consecutive home win to their current streak, a run of 540 minutes in Montilivi during which they have not conceded a single goal. Depor have failed to spark under Clarence Seedorf with two draws in five and a single strike, achieved last weekend to get the Dutchman off the mark. Girona will simply have too much confidence and organization at home to fluff their lines against a side as weak as Depor away from home.
Eibar – Real Madrid (Saturday 13:00) Prediction: away win
Real Madrid have given up on La Liga, despite the necessary soundbites to the contrary, as their last away day at Espanyol proved. Zinedine Zidane is likely to field a similar side to the one that lost 1-0 in Cornellà with Isco, Gareth Bale, Nacho and Achraf leading the B Team’s assault on Ipurua. Even so, Eibar will be missing their creative wide men Rubén Peña and Fabián Orellana with Takashi Inui a doubt and Fran Rico also absent in central midfield. Eibar have been on a tremendous run and held Real last season at the Bernabéu but the away side should just nick this one.
Sevilla – Valencia (Saturday 16:15) Prediction: away win
The game of the weekend (whatever the Spanish television schedulers would have us believe) takes place at the Sánchez Pizjuán where the battle for fourth Champions League spot hits a critical juncture. Valencia are only a point behind Real in third while Sevilla need to make up eight on Los Che to qualify via the domestic route. Vincenzo Montella also has the small matter of playing Manchester United in this season’s competition at Old Trafford with the score at 0-0 after the first leg. That may lead to some changes on the Italian’s part and with Valencia unencumbered by midweek considerations Marcelino should be able to take advantage to essentially seal his side’s return to Europe’s top table for next season.
Getafe – Levante (Saturday 18:30) Prediction: home win
New Levante boss Paco López promised an “adventurous” side in the Coliseum as he seeks to leap the Frogs to the top of what he termed a “league of four” to stave off relegation. Unfortunately, López will struggle to stick out a team at all with no fewer than 10 first-teamers either injured or doubtful, including key midfielder Cheick Doukouré, top scorer Iví and defenders Iván López and Toño. The return of Enis Bardhi gives Levante a shot, not least from free-kicks, but Getafe are unbeaten in 10 at home and have won seven of those.
Málaga – Barcelona (Saturday 20:45) Prediction: away win
Málaga launched their successful survival bid last season with a 2-0 home victory over Barça, which preceded a run of four wins in five to lift Míchel’s side out of trouble. With the former Real midfielder now long gone it falls to José González to oversee another great escape but the omens are not good for the Anchovies, who have lost their last six on the trot and scored just twice. González will set up to avoid defeat and Ernesto Valverde may rotate with Chelsea on the horizon but anything other than an away win will bust many a coupon this weekend.
Espanyol – Real Sociedad (Sunday 12:00) Prediction: home win
Real Sociedad have been enduring a dreadful season by their standards, out of Europe and with only an outside chance of enjoying continental football next season. A 2-1 home win over Alavés last weekend helped that cause a little but Eusebio’s side are without a win on the road since October 14. Espanyol blow hot and cold and put in a good performance roughly once a month. After a run of four draws Quique Sánchez Flores’ side picked up a 1-0 victory over reigning champions Real in Cornellà and then reverted to type against Levante but a dispirited Sociedad are ripe for the Parakeets to pluck in the RCDE.
Atlético – Celta (Sunday 16:15) Prediction: home win
Key to Celta’s chances in the Metropolitano will be the availability of Iago Aspas, the side’s top scorer and fourth in LaLiga overall this season. The Spain international may make the squad but Daniel Wass, the key man in midfield, is definitely ruled out. Atlético will be missing Jan Oblak but have a promising back-up in Axel Werner, who will face a trickier afternoon than he did on his debut against a blunt Lokomotiv attack on Thursday. Atlético are unbeaten at home all season and have scored 10 without reply in their last four so even with the 22-year-old Argentinean between the sticks the obvious plump is for a home win.
Las Palmas – Villarreal (Sunday 18:30) Prediction: draw
The Yellow Submarine are on a shocking run that has seen Girona close in to a point in the race for the Europa League places, even though seventh will do the trick this season anyway. Villarreal risk missing out on that as well if they can’t arrest a slide of four losses in their last six and were beaten precisely by Girona last week and eighth-placed Eibar before that. Las Palmas are in a dog-fight at the bottom and could even nick a win but the bookies have this down as a 1-1 draw as the most likely outcome and we’re inclined to agree.
Athletic – Leganés (Sunday 20:45) Prediction: home win
Despite Athletic’s difficult post-Valverde season under Cuco Ziganda, which culminated in a 3-1 thrashing at Marseille on Thursday that the Ligue 1 side could have won by seven or eight, The Lions are unbeaten at home since late October and although they have scored only seven during that run they have conceded only eight at San Mamés all season. Ziganda will expect a reaction from his players ahead of the return leg against Marseille and may choose to do away with his policy of rotation to keep his stars primed for the only competition they have left. Leganés have picked up only three points on the road over the same period and haven’t scored away from Butarque in their last three.
Alavés – Betis (Monday 21:00) Prediction: home win
El Glorioso’s home record under Abelardo is simply stunning: since the former Sporting coach arrived his side have won six of seven to drag themselves clear of the relegation mire and conceded just three. Betis have now gone two games without finding the net and ship a staggering number home and away, which should be an invitation to get stuck in against the visitors, who will be missing Tonny Sanabria and Zou Feddal with Joaquín, Ryad Boudebouz and first-choice keeper Antonio Adán all doubtful.