Primera predictions: LaLiga 2018-19 week 20
The Oracle predicts joy for Sevilla at Real Madrid, Atlético to pull off a trademark 1-0 in Huesca and Barça to cruise against visiting Leganés.
Getafe – Alavés (Friday 21:00) Prediction: home win
Getafe have been on a roll since November, losing just once in the past two months and that was a narrow defeat at Camp Nou. The Madrid-based side’s main weapon is defence, Geta having only conceded more than once on three occasions this season - against Barça, Real Madrid and Atlético. Alavés are no mugs on the road but are prone to the occasional switch-off outside Mendirrotza and will have to be at their very best to get anything out the Coliseum, where Getafe have conceded just six all season.
Real Madrid – Sevilla (Saturday 16:15) Prediction: away win
The visit of Sevilla will prove an extremely tough test for Santiago Solari, Saturday’s visitors having knocked in 18 on the road this season. Madrid have been criticized for not scoring enough themselves and despite some awful performances from the back four, Solari’s side have let in just five goals at the Bernabéu so it could be a fairly close one. The Madrid boss has a lengthy injury list and a few underperforming players while Pablo Machín’s side are at almost full strength so an away win shouldn’t be ruled out.
Huesca – Atlético (Saturday 18:30) Prediction: away win
Huesca are 10 points from safety but have shown signs that they will not go down without a decent scrap, beating Betis at home and keeping things fairly tight at the back under new coach Francisco. Given Atlético’s utter reliance on Antoine Griezmann for goals at the moment, a valiant defensive display undone by a moment of magic for Diego Simeone’s trademark 1-0 away win sounds about right.
Celta – Valencia (Saturday 20:45) Prediction: draw
Celta are still without Iago Aspas and have lost both games the talismanic Spain striker has missed with a calf injury. Maxi Gómez knows where the onion bag is and will fancy his chances against Valencia, who haven’t kept a clean sheet since November, but when Marcelino’s side are involved betting on anything other than a draw is as wise as backing Saturday to follow Sunday. Valencia have chalked up a staggering 11 stalemates already this season, just two shy of the highest total managed by any side in the whole of 2017-18.
Betis – Girona (Sunday 12:00) Prediction: home win
Both sides have been in midweek action as the fixtures start to pile up and both sides will be in chipper mood in the Villamarín after reaching the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey. Girona did so by knocking out Atlético in a thumping 3-3 draw in the Metropolitano, where Cristhian Stuani was on the score sheet yet again. However, the prolific Uruguayan will have to watch this one from the stands while he serves a one-game ban and that hands the advantage to Betis, who may give Diego Lainez a debut as they seek to find the net more regularly.
Villarreal – Athletic (Sunday 16:15) Prediction: away win
The Lions have enjoyed a resurgence under Gaizka Garitano and are unbeaten under their new boss, winning three, drawing two and knocking off Sevilla and Celta in their last two games. Villarreal have been struggling this season and sacked Javi Calleja before the winter break, bringing in Luis García Plaza to replace him. Things have hardly improved under the former Villarreal B coach, who enjoyed a win ratio of just under 70 percent during his time there, with three draws and a defeat to his name so far with the seniors. Villarreal have the players to haul themselves out of the relegation zone but Athletic are the form side and the Submarine faithful may be in for another dispiriting afternoon in La Cerámica.
Levante – Valladolid (Sunday 18:30) Prediction: home win
Levante are more than capable of beating anyone on their own turf. Results have not been going the Frogs’ way lately, a draw against Girona the only points picked up in their last four, which included a heavy defeat at Barça. Levante’s defensive issues are such they needed to score four to secure that point but Valladolid average under a goal a game on the road so Paco López will eye this as a chance to get back on track against a side two places beneath his.
Rayo – Real Sociedad (Sunday 18:30) Prediction: draw
Rayo have won their last three consecutive games but remain in the relegation zone – testament to their form before Christmas. Real Sociedad have also been given a new lease of life, B Team coach Imanol rising to the big chair two weeks ago and overseeing victories over Real Madrid and Espanyol. That the Parakeets managed to claw back a two-goal deficit before the end of the first half in that game shows La Real’s defensive frailty remains intact and the visitors will have to without the suspended Mikel Merino for this one, which has a draw written all over it.
Barcelona – Leganés (Sunday 20:45) Prediction: home win
Lega pulled off another Pepinazo in Butarque earlier in the season, scoring a first Primera victory over Barça. Two things characterized that encounter: the Cucumber Growers’ faith, application and drive, and a complete lack of any of the above from the visitors, who were shambolic in defence and utterly rotten in attack. Lega even came from a goal down to win. On the flip-side, Barça go into this one on a run of six consecutive victories with 18 goals scored and one conceded. Lega have won only four games since beating Valverde’s men back in September, and only one of those was on the road.
Eibar – Espanyol (Monday 21:00) Prediction: home win
Espanyol were in midweek action and fielded a strong side to ensure they reached the quarter-finals of the Copa, top scorer Borja Iglesias playing the full 90 against Villarreal. The visitors are without forwards Hernán Pérez and Sergio García and if Eibar can keep Iglesias under wraps, it’s difficult to see where the goals will come from – Espanyol’s next highest scorers have two. Eibar have been an uninspiring run but have drawn their last three at Ipurua and are only even an Enis Bardhi wonder-goal away from victory and could sneak this 1-0.