Primera predictions: LaLiga 2017-18 week 32
The Oracle has had a glance at the old crystal ball and suspects a score draw in Camp Nou and a handful of away wins on a weekend with some potentially cracking games.
Girona – Betis (Friday 21:00) Prediction: away win
Girona’s stunning home run of six straight wins without conceding a goal was finally snapped by Levante two weeks ago and Pablo Machín’s side then travelled to San Sebastián and found themselves on the wrong end of a 5-0 hiding from Real Sociedad, denting their Europa League aspirations further still. Betis meanwhile have won their last four and now hold the advantage in the battle for fifth and automatic qualification for Uefa’s second-tier competition next season. Quique Setién is unlikely to relinquish that lightly and his closest challengers, Sevilla and Villarreal, play each other this weekend. Betis have conceded just three in their last seven games and if they catch Girona cold, as Sociedad did, there’s every chance the visitors can put some more daylight between themselves and the chasing pack.
Sevilla – Villarreal (Saturday 13:00) Prediction: away win
Both sides are on a downward spiral in LaLiga; Sevilla are without a win in four and the Submarine have lost their last two. Vincenzo Montella may find it hard to pick his side up after Champions League elimination at the hands of Bayern Munich despite a valiant 0-0 draw in Bavaria, where a single goal would have seen them through. Villarreal have had the week to prepare for this one and although they rarely score more than one away from home, that might be enough against a deflated Sevilla side who shipped four away at Celta last weekend.
Barcelona – Valencia (16:15) Prediction: draw
Barça suffered one of the great European shocks in midweek and the last thing Ernesto Valverde would have wanted this weekend is a game against Valencia. Marcelino’s side are one of seven to have taken a point from the champions-elect this season and this is a fixture that tends to produce goals and positive results for the visitors, who have won two of their last four at Camp Nou in LaLiga. Add in the possibility that Marcelino can achieve his club’s goal of Champions League qualification with a win and a combination of other results going their way and Valencia will not approach this with any sort of caution. Valverde can still produce an unbeaten domestic season and with the title practically in the bag he’ll want to give the Camp Nou a show after the disappointment of Rome and a win will make his side the first in Liga history to go 39 games unbeaten. A 2-2 draw sounds about right though.
Las Palmas – Real Sociedad (Saturday 18:30) Prediction: away win
Imanol Alguacil has breathed new life into La Real but it’s too little, too late to salvage anything from the season with 10 points separating his side from sixth. A solid top-10 finish may be enough for the former Sociedad defender to land the job on a full-time basis and there are few softer sides in the division than Las Palmas, who have failed to win a game since February 5 and have scored just five in their last nine.
Leganés – Celta (Saturday 18:30) Prediction: draw
Lega’s home form is the sole reason the Cucumber Growers will still be in Primera next season and a run to the semi-finals of the Copa, knocking out Madrid on the way, makes this a fine season for Asier Garitano’s side. Celta’s away form has been woeful since February but a 4-0 drubbing of a distracted Sevilla has pushed them to three points shy of the Andalusians in seventh, making Europe a viable proposition. Leganés have conceded fewer at home than Madrid this season and if Garitano has an anti-Iago Aspas plan up his sleeve, which he probably has, then the home side can frustrate their way to a point in Butarque.
Athletic – Deportivo (Saturday 20:45) Prediction: home win
Neither side has enjoyed a glorious campaign in LaLiga and Depor may well be plying their trade in Segunda next season with Levante having opened up an eight-point advantage over Calrence Seedorf’s 18th-placed strugglers. A 3-2 victory over bottom side Málaga last weekend threw Depor half a lifeline but they haven’t won away since October 30 and are yet to find the net in four attempts outside Riazor under the Dutchman. The Lions are rooted in mid-table and have little realistic chance of European football next season but the home side can crack the top 10 with victory and results elsewhere going their way and the under-fire Cuco Ziganda knows that finishing above the bottom half is his only realistic chance of keeping his job. Against the worst away defence in the division, anything other than victory and he might not last the week.
Eibar – Alavés (Sunday 12:00) Prediction: draw
Alavés are 12 points clear of Depor and practically assured of Primera status next season after Abelardo’s sensational rescue job so every game from here on is basically a free hit for the Basques. In a local derby nothing can be second-guessed with any level of certainty but El Glorioso have shared the points only twice this season, the lowest number of draws of any Primera side by a distance. Given Eibar’s patchy form and Alavés’ record away from home, Abelardo making that three seems a distinct possibility.
Atlético – Levante (Sunday 16:15) Prediction: home win
Paco López continues to perform miracles at Levante after taking over from Juan Muñiz in March and a last-gasp victory over Las Palmas last weekend was his third win in four as The Frogs leap towards Primera survival. That he has managed to remain undefeated despite missing half of his regular starting XI through injury only adds to the magic touch López has produced but a trip to the Metropolitano is by far his biggest test to date. Add the suspended Coke and Rubén Rochina to his list of absentees and if López can get anything out of Sunday’s lunch-time kick-off he should be a shoo-in for April manager of the month with half of it still to go. Atlético will struggle to fill the bench themselves and will be without Diego Costa and midfield dynamo Thomas but the home side should still be too much for Levante to handle.
Getafe – Espanyol (Sunday 18:30) Prediction: home win
Espanyol, and Quique Sánchez Flores in particular, are extremely fortunate that there are three sides more inept than The Parakeets this season otherwise the coach may well have gone already and the Barcelona-based club could be staring over their shoulders with considerable concern. If not for Gerard Moreno they would be but as Sánchez Flores has discovered over the last few weeks one player can’t be expected to paper over the cracks in a squad as poor as Espanyol’s by himself. One away win all season tells its own story and while Getafe have gone off the boil recently, dropping down to 11th, their last two home defeats have been by a single goal and they were undefeated at the Coliseum before that stretching all the way back to October. Expect Geta to back on track against the only team outside the bottom three with such a woeful record on the road.
Málaga – Real Madrid (Sunday 20:45) Prediction: away win
With no Champions League matches for a couple of weeks Zinedine Zidane will make plenty of changes in La Rosaleda but with the home side missing Luis Hernández, Juankar, Maxime Lestienne, Recio, Juanpi and Adalberto Peñaranda the basement club will up against it whoever the Real boss sends out. Cristiano Ronaldo is likely to fancy this one as he attempts to catch Leo Messi in the Pichichi stakes and even Real's barely-used reserves will be enough to see the visitors home against a side who are basically down already.
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