Primera División predictions, LaLiga 2018-19: week 4

The Oracle turns his attention to the weekend's Liga action after the international break and reckons Real Madrid may find Athletic a tough nut to crack in San Mamés.

Primera División predictions, LaLiga 2018-19: week 4

Huesca – Rayo (Friday 21:00) Prediction: home win

Huesca got off to a flying start in their debut Primera campaign but were brought back to earth with an eight-goal drubbing at Camp Nou last time out. Leo Franco has built a side with plenty of grit, as proven by coming from two goals down at San Mamés to claim a point, and the home side should have little problem in seeing off a Rayo team that have scored just once in two games so far and are propping up the table.

Atlético – Eibar (Saturday 13:00) Prediction: home win

Diego Simeone has a fair few injury concerns already, as he did in the second half of last season, and has had to pad out his squad with a couple of youth teamers for the visit of Eibar. Atlético have started poorly and were rightly condemned for an utter shambles at Celta before the international break so the home side will be keen to put on a show at home against the Basques, who are lacking a little creativity in the absence of Pedro León and Fabián Orellana.

Real Sociedad – Barcelona (Saturday 16:15) Prediction: away win

Sociedad’s incredible home record against Barça – five wins and three draws stretching back to 2007 – was finally broken by Ernesto Valverde last season in a 4-2 win and Leo Messi has had a couple of weeks of feet-up time after deciding not to turn out for Argentina’s friendlies. The visitors have no major injury concerns while the hosts will be without Diego Llorente, David Concha, Jon Guridi, Adnan Januzaj, Martín Merquelanz, Sandro and possibly main goal threat Willian José so the most likely outcome is a Valverde double in Anoeta.

Valencia – Betis (Saturday 18:30) Prediction: draw

“We have to beat Betis, we’re not thinking any further ahead than that, said Marcelino in his pre-match press conference and he’s not wrong. Valencia finished fourth last season and have the most expensive squad in the club’s history but are currently 17th after a slow start to the season. In mitigation Marcelino’s side have played in-form Espanyol, Atlético and Levante in the derby but a visit from the ever-unpredictable Betis is not ideal under the circumstances. Quique Setién’s side are yet to click this season, scoring only once in three games, but as the last campaign proved they are capable of some cricket scores and will fancy a pop at a defence that has leaked five so far – this fixture in Seville last season ended 6-3 to the hosts. Setién said he would put a two on the Quiniela but we fancy a draw may be on the cards, and quite a few goals.

Athletic – Real Madrid (Saturday 20:45) Prediction: draw

Real Madrid have made a perfect start to the season but haven’t yet faced any sides operating in roughly the same weight division. Athletic always prove a tricky test for the capital side and this one ended 0-0 last season with Madrid reduced to four shots on target. Add in the fact that Gareth Bale has never scored in San Mamés and that Karim Benzema is due a lacklustre game after his explosive start to the season and more of the same can’t be ruled out. Most of Real’s players were active during the international break, during which time Aritz Aduriz returned to fitness for the hosts. 1-1 sounds about right.

Leganés – Villarreal (Sunday 12:00) Prediction: home win

Villarreal are another Liga big gun who have struggled to fire so far in 2018-19, summer signing Gerard Moreno being the only player to have bothered an opposition onion bag in 270 minutes of Liga action. Leganés are hardly in better shape but will be in the mood to pick off a side that have won just once in their last six Liga outings, against already relegated Depor last May, as the Cucumber Growers look to kick-start their annual bid to finish one place above the relegation zone.

Espanyol – Levante (Sunday 16:15) Prediction: draw

Espanyol have thrived despite losing Moreno – who was responsible for half the side’s goals last season – and seem to have found a perfect fit for the club in the shape of Rubi after years of treading water under the guise of dubiously thought-out “projects.” Rubi has instead tried something else: getting the side to play football. And it has worked a treat, the Parakeets picking up points at third-placed Celta and Mestalla before tripping up at Alavés. Levante continue to roll under the excellent Paco López and are behind only Barcelona and Madrid in terms of goals scored this season. The Frogs are in the final Champions League place and the hosts in the Europa League spots. A score draw to reflect noteworthy progress in both camps will probably leave everyone happy enough.

Valladolid – Alavés (Sunday 18:30) Prediction: home win

Valladolid have been good value for a draw on their return to Primera and have only conceded once in three, against a full-strength Barcelona. The problem for Sergio González’s side is goals, or a complete lack thereof, with the pucelanos managing just nine shots on target in their three games to date. Alavés are scarcely any more prolific, bagging twice against Espanyol but drawing blanks against Barça and Betis, and one goal may be enough to settle this. Valladolid’s defensive prowess should ensure a clean sheet at one end and the José Zorrilla is about due to celebrate an inaugural strike.

Sevilla – Getafe (Sunday 20:45) Prediction: home win

Getafe are flying high courtesy of a 2-0 win in week two but may find the trip to the Sánchez Pizjuán a tough proposition with Sevilla looking to bounce back from the derby defeat to Betis. Pablo Machín has yet to really convince after making the step up from Girona and although he guided his side into the Europa League with a perfect qualifying campaign he has yet to translate that form into sustained Liga success. However, Sevilla looked phenomenal against Rayo in week one and if that side turns up on Sunday Geta could be in for a long evening.

Girona – Celta (Monday 21:00) Prediction: draw

Celta have come out of the blocks in style and sit third after downing Atlético and Levante in successive games while Girona have been solid so far, a 45-minute thrashing by Real Madrid aside. Celta are at full strength and in Iago Aspas possess arguably the finest striker in LaLiga outside of the “big three.” Keep him quiet and Girona can nick a valuable point at home but the question is whether Eusebio plays three or four at the back, the former producing a 1-0 away win at Villarreal in their last game. A more defensive approach may be required against Celta and the former Real Sociedad coach has the players to stymie Aspas and co if he settles on that approach.