Primera predictions: LaLiga 2018-19 week 8
Real Madrid to be held by Alavés, Barcelona to lose at Mestalla and a goal-fest between Sevilla and Celta are the stand-out picks in this week's Liga action.
Athletic – Real Sociedad (Friday 21:00) prediction: home win
The Basque derby is generally a tight affair and neither side is going into the clash at San Mamés in the greatest shape. Athletic sit in 15th, albeit with a game in hand, with their regional rivals only two places better off after seven games. The Lions haven’t won since the first weekend of competition but were perhaps unfortunate not to take more than a point away from a decent performance against Barcelona a week ago. Sociedad have been struggling at the back so far this season and Iñaki Williams will fancy his chances. Athletic have failed to score only once this season and if the home side can keep La Real quiet as Valencia did the spoils will remain in Bilbao.
Girona – Eibar (Saturday 13:00) prediction: home win
Girona have failed to build on their 2-2 draw at camp Nou, losing to Betis and dropping points away at Huesca. Eusebio seems unsure of his best formation, having deployed five different tactical set-ups already in LaLiga, but the home side should have enough guile to see off Getafe, who have lost their last two and have managed only one goal on the road in 2018-19. Cristhian Stuani is in formidable form and has found the net more often than Leo Messi this season; The Uruguayan could prove to be the difference in a narrow contest.
Getafe – Levante (Saturday 16:15) prediction: draw
Getafe are at full strength for the visit of Levante, who snapped their five-game winless run with a 2-1 victory over Alavés. Generally solid at home, the Madrid-based side have been erratic so far, beating Eibar, failing to break down Valladolid and losing to Atlético. The Frogs have lost their last two on the road but by a single goal each time and a cagey low-scoring draw wouldn’t be a big surprise in the Coliseum.
Alavés – Real Madrid (Saturday 18:30) prediction: draw
Madrid are definitely not in crisis, according to Julen Lopetegui, but for how long can he keep up the pretence that all is far from well on his watch? The visitors will be a bit thin on the flanks in the absence of Dani Carvajal and Marcelo and they have missed the creative spark of Isco in defeats to Sevilla and CSKA. Alavés have been in fine form so far and are in the European places after going five games without defeat until last weekend. The sight of Madrid rolling into town won’t awe the hosts, who are well-placed to finally take a point off the below-par European champions on their seventh attempt in Primera.
Leganés – Rayo (Saturday 20:45) prediction: draw
A veritable six-pointer in Butarque has been handed the Saturday night prime-time slot but it may not be a goal-filled blockbuster. It’s early in the season but the two Madrid sides are among the favourites for the drop, the Cucumber Growers currently propping up the pile and Rayo two places higher after a couple of 2-2 draws in recent weeks. Leganés, remarkably, scored their only win of the season away at Camp Nou while Rayo’s sole triumph was away over fellow relegation-battlers Huesca. This is a game not to lose, more than one to win, and with fewer than 2.5 goals between the sides in six of seven games in all competitions going into this one we’re fancying a tickle on 1-1.
Valladolid – Huesca (Sunday 12:00) prediction: home win
Valladolid have pulled away from the relegation zone with back-to-back wins and are now in 10th after seeing off Levante and Villarreal in their last two outings. Having failed to score in their opening four Liga games, the Pucelanos have hit six in their last three with Enes Ünal and Leonardo Suárez, both on loan from the Yellow Submarine, finding their shooting boots. The young Argentinean got his first start of the season against his parent club and found the net after doing the same in a one-minute cameo against Celta and will start on the right for the injury-hit hosts. Huesca have the worst defensive record in the division and have leaked 14 on the road already so Sergio González will be eyeing this one as a chance to consolidate in the top 10 at the expense of a Huesca side who haven’t won since week one and have scored once in their last four.
Atlético – Betis (Sunday 16:15) prediction: home win
Betis limbered up for the trip to the Metropolitano with a 3-0 Europa League home victory over Dudelange and appear to have resolved their scoring issues in the league with two victories and a draw that have lifted them up into fifth. Quique Setién’s side have though only scored once on the road this season and come up against an Atlético side who seem to have found their feet after a precarious start with three clean sheets across two victories and a derby draw in the Bernabéu. Goals may be at a premium, or it may be a free-for-all, but whether Betis sit back or go on the attack Atlético are firm favourites to grab all three points at home.
Espanyol – Villarreal (Sunday 18:30) prediction: away win
Gerard Moreno’s return to Villarreal from Espanyol cost the Submarine 18 million euros and has so far reaped one league goal – the consolation in a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Real Sociedad on the opening weekend. It’s a far cry from last term, when the striker accounted for roughly half of the Parakeets’ entire 2017-18 tally and had the 26-year-old being touted for a Spain call-up. What better time to fire than back in his old stomping ground? Espanyol haven’t been scoring very freely following Moreno’s departure but have a perfect home record of three wins and zero goals conceded, a perfect opportunity for the striker to endear himself to his current club again.
Sevilla – Celta (Sunday 18:30) prediction: home win
A Europe League defeat away at Krasnodar burst Sevilla’s bubble a little but there is little doubt that Pablo Machín has his side firing on all cylinders after a slow start. A 6-2 drubbing of Levante was followed by a 3-0 defeat of Real Madrid and a 3-1 victory away at Eibar last weekend with the in-form André Silva scoring at least one in all of those three games. Celta are dangerous whatever the location – only Barça and Sevilla have scored more – and it may be a straight shoot-out between the Portugal striker and Iago Aspas, who has five in his last five. On current league form Sevilla have the edge at home but this may well shape up to be the game of the weekend.
Valencia – Barcelona (Sunday 20:45) prediction: home win
Los Che have earned seven home draws in this fixture over the decade since they last beat Barcelona in Mestalla in 2007 and have had more success at Camp Nou than at home during that time. However, a midweek Leo Messi masterclass against Tottenham aside, Ernesto Valverde’s team have been pretty awful in LaLiga in recent weeks, losing to Leganés and being held by Girona and Athletic to mark the first time in two years the reigning champions have gone three games without a win. Marcelino needs a statement victory after finally breaking his 2018-19 duck last weekend away at Real Sociedad and there are few better ways to ensure white hankies remain firmly in pockets than beating Barça to cap an encouraging week.
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