Deportivo – Sevilla (Tuesday 19:30) Prediction: home win
Roll the music, fire up the motorbike, make sure nobody spills coffee over Tom, Dick or Harry – the great escape may just be on. As has just been pointed out to the Oracle, with Depor’s front line they have no business being where they are and with two wins on the trot Clarence Seedorf has his side’s tails up. They are still five points adrift of Levante, who play doomed Málaga in this round of fixtures, so it may well prove to be futile anyway, but the suspicion is that Sevilla won’t be as up for this one as the home side with the Copa del Rey final on Saturday. Three in a row? Stranger things have happened in A Coruña.
Celta – Barcelona (Tuesday 21:00) Prediction: draw
Celta have beaten Barcelona on their last two visits to Balaídos, by scorelines of 4-3 and 4-1. Iago Aspas is on fire and Ernesto Valverde has elected to leave Gerard Piqué, Andrés Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic out of the squad with an eye on the Copa final. Those that do play won’t be snapping into tackles to ensure that nothing gets snapped. Since that 4-3 the teams have met twice at Camp Nou and shared nine goals between them so it could be a shooting gallery in Vigo.
Villarreal – Leganés (Tuesday 21:30) Prediction: home win
The Submarine’s up and down season was framed in 15 minutes away at Sevilla last weekend, where a healthy lead was blown despite the hosts missing a penalty and being reduced to 10 men while still 2-0 down. It would probably be poetic if new boys Girona were to pip Villarreal to the Europa League, because they have done everything in their power to torpedo their own season. Only four points separate the sides and Leganés have not won an away game since mid-October.
Espanyol – Eibar (Wednesday 19:30) Prediction: draw
“We have a squad good enough to be higher up the table, but it’s not a drama,” said Espanyol sporting director Jordi Lardín this week adding, with a straight face, that if Quique Sánchez Flores’ side had managed three wins in a row this season, “we’d be talking about Europe.” It took a Damián screamer to light up a turgid affair in Getafe last weekend and we suspect something similar sounding to be served up in the RCDE by two sides who haven’t managed a single goal between them in 630 combined minutes of football.
Valencia – Getafe (Wednesday 19:30) Prediction: home win
Valencia are one win away from ensuring they cannot be caught by Betis if Quique Setién’s side drop points in any of their remaining games and although that is an extremely unlikely scenario, the Verdiblancos’ recent form should inspire Marcelino’s side to finish the job against a Getafe team who have found the net just 11 times on the road this season and will be without most of their first-choice midfield in Mestalla.
Real Madrid - Athletic (Wednesday 21:30) Prediction: home win
Madrid have the bonus of a weekend off before facing Bayern Munich in the Champions League and Zinedine Zidane will probably play an XI on Wednesday that will not be much changed in the Allianz Arena next week. Athletic have been a shambles under Cuco Ziganda this season and haven’t tasted victory in the Bernabéu in 13 years, a record that is unlikely to be altered on this occasion with The Lions’ morale taking a serious dent in home defeat to Depor last time out.
Alavés – Girona (Thursday 19:30) Prediction: home win
Like Valencia, Alavés are one win and a Depor defeat away from achieving their pre-season goal of Primera survival. Both sides have built their seasons on home form so El Glorioso’s 1-0 win at Eibar was a huge bonus. In Mendizorrotza, only Betis have got the better of Abelardo’s boys since the Asturian Guardiola took over, guiding his side to seven home wins out of nine. Girona arrive on the back of consecutive away drubbings, leaking six at the Bernabéu and five without reply in Anoeta.
Real Sociedad – Atlético (Thursday 19:30) Prediction: draw
Diego Simeone faces a glut of games in the next seven days, travelling first to Anoeta, then hosting Betis before a Europa League semifinal first leg away at Arsenal. Diego Costa is definitely out against la Real and given Simeone’s famously thin squad, the Atlético coach may privately view this as the lesser of those three battles with his recent run away from home reading played three, lost two, drawn one.
Levante – Málaga (Thursday 21:30) Prediction: home win
Depor’s recent resurgence has Paco López suddenly looking over his shoulder despite the caretaker Levante boss’ impressive run at the Ciutat de Valencia and both sides have tough run-ins featuring Barcelona and Sevilla at home and Celta away. If The Frogs dispatch Málaga it might just be enough to ensure their Primera survival. Against a side with a single away win all season, Levante should be confident of doing exactly that.
Betis – Las Palmas (Thursday 21:30) Prediction: home win
Betis are on their best run in Primera in two decades, wininng five on the spin and not conceding in the last four of those. The gap to Villarreal in sixth has now stretched to four points as Betis eye automatic Europa League qualification and Quique Setién will not pass up the opportunity to remind his former employers what they are missing by hammering another nail into Las Palmas’ relegation to Segunda.