Primera predictions: LaLiga 2018-19 week 16
Real Madrid thumped Rayo 10-2 the last time they visited the Bernabéu while Levante and Barça go toe-to-toe again after last season's 5-4 thriller.
Celta – Leganés (Friday 21:00) Prediction: home win
Celta appear to have found their groove under Miguel Cardoso and successive victories have catapulted the Galicians to the cusp of the top 10. Question marks remain over the home side’s defence after they nearly threw away a three-goal lead at Villarreal last weekend, but Celta have had little trouble scoring this season and should make light of a Leganés side whose stunning 4-2 away win at Valladolid last weekend was their first of the season and masked a woeful previous return on the road of two points and 11 goals shipped.
Getafe – Real Sociedad (Saturday 13:00) Prediction: home win
Getafe boast the second-meanest defence in the league at home, having conceded just four times in seven games at the Coliseum. That hasn’t translated into a raft of victories though, Geta winning three, losing three and drawing one at home. La Real are into double figures already for both goals scored and conceded on the road, which will make former striker José Bordalás a cautious man on Saturday. When Getafe win at home they do so convincingly; when they lose it is narrowly. It’ll be tight but the home side are favourites by a whisker to edge this one.
Valladolid – Atlético (Saturday 16:15) Prediction: draw
Valladolid returned to winning ways precisely at Anoeta, where La Real have been struggling all season, to arrest a run of five games without a win. Four goals in their last two games has also relieved Los Pucelanos of the mantle of the division’s lowest scorers. It’s not hard to picture Diego Simeone literally banging his head against a brick wall over Atlético’s inability to win away with five draws in seven and just six goals scored and he’ll meet another one in the José Zorrilla, where Sergio’s side have leaked just eight at the back. It'll be a close one and we wouldn't rule out a 0-0 given Atlético's injury list and midweek exertions coupled with the home side's lack of goals.
Real Madrid – Rayo (Saturday 18:30) Prediction: home win
To say Rayo have a bit of a mental block against their more illustrious neighbours is understating it a bit. The two sides have met 10 times in Primera since 2011 and Real have won all 10, averaging four goals a game and dishing out a 10-2 spanking at the Bernabéu the last time this fixture was played. Rayo are a much better side than they were then, as proven by their performance against Barcelona, but despite Madrid being pretty awful against Huesca and a perfect shambles in defeat to CSKA, it will be a brave punter (and a Rayo fan) who backs the away side here.
Eibar – Valencia (Saturday 20:45) Prediction: draw
“The Europa League is a beautiful competition,” Marcelino said after missing out on the Champions League knock-out stages, fooling absolutely nobody. This season so far has been an unmitigated disaster after the highs of 2017-18 and getting out of a group containing Swiss sloggers Young Boys and one of the worst Manchester United sides ever to “grace” the competition would have at least diverted attention away from Valencia’s current league position. As it is, being drawn with Sporting in the cup was a bit of a gimme and a trip to Eibar a chance to steady the ship. Valencia haven't won in four years at Ipurua and given their penchant for the draw this season that's the obvious choice against a side whose attacking plan - slinging crosses into the proverbial - is easy enough to nullify if you've got some big lads at the back.
Sevilla – Girona (Sunday 12:00) Prediction: home win
Sevilla are still breathing down Barcelona’s neck and have rattled in 27 league goals this season – only the league leaders and Celta have scored more. That only 10 of those have come in the Sánchez Pizjuán is an anomaly that Pablo Machín’s side went some way to dispelling in a 3-0 victory over Krasnodar in the Europa League that ensured they finished top of their group, scoring 14 at home in the process. In Wissam Ben Yedder and André Silva, Machín has one of the finest forward pairings in the league and although Girona striker Christhian Stuani is the current Pichichi, Girona’s results have been based on frantic rearguard action led by Bernardo Espinosa and the bustling presence of the Uruguayan up front. Target the former and silence the latter and Sevilla should add to their goals-for tally in front of their fans.
Espanyol – Betis (Sunday 16:15) Prediction: home win
Espanyol coach Rubi needs to stop a worrying decline that has seen his side lose their last four in the league while conceding 12. The Parakeets still boast a solid home record, recently undone by Stuani’s five-minute smash-and-grab and Leo Messi’s brilliance, and the visit of Betis, who were given a tough midweek game by Luxembourg minnows Dudelange and failed to score, is the perfect moment to get back on track. Betis have scored just six on the road and four of those were against Barcelona.
Huesca – Villarreal (Sunday 18:30) Prediction: draw
Fortune has not been Huesca’s friend under new coach Francisco but the relegation strugglers showed they will not go without a scrap in last weekend’s 1-0 loss to Real Madrid. Since taking over, Francisco has been unable to add to Huesca’s sole win of the season on the opening weekend but has been beaten by a single goal three times and failed to take advantage of winning positions against Getafe and Levante. Villarreal won their first game under Luis García in European action but were a shambles against Celta and haven’t tasted victory away since September.
Levante – Barcelona (Sunday 20:45) Prediction: away win
A repeat of last season’s incredible 5-4 victory for the Frogs – Barça’s only league defeat of 2017-18 – is priced at 200/1 for any takers. While that scoreline is unlikely to be matched, both sides are in good form and finding the net freely. Last weekend, Barça scored four in the derby against Espanyol while Levante hit four and conceded as many against Eibar. Paco López skipped over the obstacle of an early-season slump and has guided his side to seventh after a run of one loss in eight and his opposite number Ernesto Valverde will pack all of his firepower for the short trip down the coast. It could be another classic but Barça remain slight favourites despite last year’s mayhem.
Alavés – Athletic (Monday 21:00) Prediction: home win
Alavés are one of only two holders of an unbeaten record at home, along with Atlético, and host an Athletic side in the relegation zone, without a win on the road and on a run of three consecutive defeats outside of San Mamés. Gaizka Garitano toasted his ascent to the big chair by guiding the Lions to a 1-0 home win in his first game in charge but an away day at Mendizorrotza is a different prospect entirely. El Glorioso have only managed two clean sheets at home this season, something for Athletic to target, but have seen off far better sides than Garitano’s and won’t relinquish their place in the European spots lightly.