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Betting on the Remainder of the 2019/20 La Liga Season

| June 3, 2020 2:02 am PDT
2019/20 La Liga Season June Update

When Real Sociedad beat Eibar 2-1 on March 10, nobody could’ve predicted that it would be three months until we next saw any La Liga action.

Like the vast majority of other European soccer leagues, Spain’s top flight was suspended due to the global situation. But after much deliberation, La Liga has been given the green light to resume on Thursday, June 11.

Not only will we be able to witness the magic of Lionel Messi on a weekly basis once again, but the return of Spanish soccer will also bring about countless betting opportunities.

In this post, I take a look at the main outright markets for the 2019/20 La Liga season. I assess the odds for the title race, top four, and relegation battle before sharing my pick for each market.

It’s still all to play for at both ends of the table, so let’s start at the top as I get into my odds and picks for the 2019/20 La Liga season.

La Liga Title Race – Barcelona or Real Madrid?

Here are the best online soccer betting sites’ odds for the 2019/20 La Liga title race.

Barcelona1.53
Real Madrid2.40

Considering that Barcelona only has a slender two-point lead at the top of the table, I think Real Madrid’s price of 2.40 to win the title is very generous.

The lead has changed hands on numerous occasions throughout the campaign, and with 11 rounds of fixtures left to play this season, there is still plenty of time for Los Blancos to regain the top spot.

Let’s take a closer look at the two sides.

Barcelona

It’s fair to say that Barcelona didn’t get off to the best of starts this term. After winning just two of their opening five games, the defending champion found themselves languishing in mid-table.

A run of nine wins in their next ten games saw Barca shoot to the top of the standings, but something wasn’t quite right. Following months of unrest behind the scenes, manager Ernesto Valverde was sacked in January and replaced by Quique Setien.

Barcelona has won six of their eight league games under their new boss, although defeats to Valencia and Real Madrid since Setien’s appointment exposed the team’s defensive frailties. In fact, Barca was completely outplayed in March’s El Classico and has struggled for clean sheets throughout 2019/20

Of course, we cannot forget that Barcelona has Lionel Messi. The six-time Ballon d’Or winner was — as he almost always is — in frightening form before the season was put on hold, and it’s no surprise that he currently sits five goals clear at the top of La Liga’s goalscoring charts.

But will a lack of options for Setien prove to be Barcelona’s downfall? Ousmane Dembele’s long-term injury led to the emergency signing of Martin Braithwaite from relegation struggler Leganes in February, while key center-back Samuel Umtiti is likely to be sidelined for the rest of the season.

Real Madrid

In stark contrast to Barcelona’s poor start to the season, Real Madrid got off to a flier. With legendary manager Zinedine Zidane back at the helm, Los Blancos went unbeaten in their first eight games and only lost one of their opening 24.

However, two defeats in three outings before the break saw Madrid surrender top spot to their bitter rival. Zidane’s men lost to bottom-half teams Levante and Real Betis, although the uncharacteristic defeats came either side of a convincing win over Barca.

Real Madrid is usually known for their free-flowing, attacking approach. But it’s their efforts at the other end of the pitch that have grabbed the headlines this season. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is averaging a clean sheet every other league game, so it’s no wonder that the capital club boasts the best defensive record in the division.

It’s also difficult to ignore Madrid’s favorable remaining fixtures. Los Blancos still has to face five of the current bottom seven teams, with games against top-four hopefuls Valencia and Getafe both on home soil.

Pick
  • Real Madrid to Win the Title
    2.40

There are two main reasons why I’m backing Real Madrid to overtake Barcelona and clinch the title.

Firstly, I believe Madrid’s strength in depth gives them a big edge. Due to the backlog of fixtures, teams will be expected to play twice a week in order to get the season finished on time. This means that managers will need to rotate their team to keep players fresh.

While Barca’s options are limited, Madrid’s squad is vast. There is no denying that Karim Benzema is the club’s first-choice striker, but Zidane will now be able to call upon the previously injured Eden Hazard and Marco Asensio. With the likes of Vinicius Junior, James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale, and Rodrygo also pushing for a place in the starting eleven, there is clearly no shortage of options.

Secondly, Madrid definitely has the easier run-in of the two title contenders. Barca has tricky fixtures against third-place Sevilla and 2013/14 champion Atletico Madrid on the horizon, so I can see them dropping points.

Given that Real Madrid is only two points behind Barcelona, I think odds of 2.40 for Los Blancos to win the title are too good to miss.

Top Four – Will Atletico Miss Out?

With Real Madrid and Barcelona out of the picture, the bookmakers have given us five teams in this market. Let’s check out the odds.

Sevilla1.36
Atletico Madrid1.40
Real Sociedad3.10
Getafe3.30
Valencia9.50

As things stand, third-place Sevilla and seventh-place Valencia are separated by just five points. Despite sitting sixth, Atletico is the bookies’ second-favorite to finish in the top four.

Sevilla and Atletico’s prices are almost identical here, while there is also very little between Real Sociedad and Getafe. However, there is a clear jump to Valencia at 9.50.

Let’s make sense of the odds by assessing each team in this market.

Sevilla

We all know that Real Madrid and Barcelona have dominated Spanish soccer since records began, but the tag for the country’s third-best team has often been up for grabs. Atletico, Valencia, and Bilbao have all enjoyed spells of success over the years. But now Sevilla is aiming to become “the best of the rest.”

Los Palanganas currently find themselves third following an excellent campaign so far. Julen Lopetegui has got his team playing an exciting brand of soccer, and their squad is packed with gifted players.

Former Manchester City winger Jesus Navas and on-loan Real Madrid man Sergio Reguilon have formed one of the most formidable full-back pairings in Europe, while attacking duo Lucas Ocampos and Luuk de Jong have racked up 24 goal involvements between them in all competitions this term.

Sevilla faces Barcelona in their second game back before hugely important ties against top-four rivals Sociedad and Valencia in their final two fixtures of the season. Will a difficult run-in hinder the team?

Atletico Madrid

What has happened to Atletico Madrid?

Across a phenomenally successful nine-year stint as manager, Diego Simeone has transformed Atletico from perennial underachiever to La Liga champion. Indeed, the club hasn’t finished outside of the top three in the past seven seasons and has claimed the runner-up spot in the previous two.

Still, there is a feeling that Simeone has taken the team as far as he can. Atletico has been a shadow of their former selves this season and has been miles behind the top two throughout 2019/20.

Atletico has only lost four of their 27 top-flight games this term, but a league-high 12 draws have prevented the team from moving up the table. Sure, Atletico’s defensive record is bettered only by cross-city rival Real. But you would expect nothing less from Simeone’s side.

Antoine Griezmann’s departure, coupled with lengthy injuries to forwards Diego Costa and Joao Felix, mean that Atletico is the lowest scoring side in the top eight. A lack of goals has been — and could well continue to be — their downfall.

Real Sociedad

Real Sociedad has only finished in the top four once since gaining promotion from the second division in 2009/10, but the club stands a genuine chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League if they can pick up where they left off before the campaign was halted.

Four wins in their previous five games have propelled the surprise package from eighth to fourth, while only Real Madrid and Barcelona have scored more goals than Imanol’s men in La Liga this term.

Top scorer Alexander Isak has netted 14 goals in his debut season with the club, winger Mikel Oyarzabal provides endless creativity, and Los Blancos loanee Martin Ødegaard is finally starting to fulfill his full potential.

It’s certainly an exciting time to be a Sociedad supporter, and with the real possibility of European soccer returning to the Reale Arena next season, things could be about to get even more exciting.

Getafe

Getafe has been on the rise ever since Pepe Bordalas guided the club to promotion in 2016/17. The Madrid outfit finished eighth in their first campaign back in the top tier and narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification on the final day of last season.

Still, last term’s fifth-place finish was the club’s best-ever La Liga ranking, and Bardalas’ men have put themselves in a fantastic position to go one better this time around.

Thanks largely to their impressive defensive record, Getafe currently sits fifth. However, there are just two points between them and third-place Sevilla. With five of their remaining 11 games against teams in the bottom eight, Getafe could easily move up the standings with a series of positive results.

Valencia

Valencia has been forced to watch on as many of the country’s rising clubs have overtaken them in recent years. Los Ches has had very little to shout about since their titles wins in 2001/02 and 2003/04, and they will resume the present campaign in seventh.

Back-to-back fourth-place finishes suggest that Valencia knows what it takes to secure UCL qualification, but the team has endured an indifferent season up to this point. Albert Celades’ side has failed to string three consecutive wins together in 2019/20, and their league position has suffered due to their inconsistency.

Highly rated winger Ferran Torres has been a standout performer this season, but too many of his teammates have underperformed. Regardless, odds of 9.50 for Valencia to finish in the top four are bound to attract a lot of attention.

Pick
  • Real Sociedad to Finish in the Top Four
    3.10

Assuming that Barcelona and Real Madrid finish first and second, there are still two top-four spots up for grabs. But with so many teams in contention, it’s likely to go down to the wire.

Sevilla and Atletico both stand a decent chance of finishing in the top four come the end of the season. But given the congested nature of the table, I would like their odds to be slightly higher. Considering there are only five points between the five teams in this market, betting on the two favorites doesn’t make sense here.

Yes, Valencia has a history of finishing in the top four. But having watched La Liga closely this term, I can safely say that I haven’t been impressed with Celades’ side. Having said that, they haven’t been as bad as their price of 9.50 suggests.

When I first saw the odds for this market, Sociedad and Getafe immediately stood out. And after taking everything into consideration, I’m going to back Sociedad at the very attractive price of 3.10.

Sociedad has really caught my eye this year. Their young stars have matured as the campaign has progressed, and I think they will be eager to put the finishing touches on what has already been a hugely successful season.

Relegation – Is Espanyol Destined for the Drop?

It’s time to check out the odds for this season’s relegation contenders.

Espanyol1.22
Mallorca1.29
Leganes1.44
Eibar3.25
Real Valladolid4.00
Celta Vigo4.50

Nine points separate fifteenth-place Valladolid and bottom club Espanyol right now, so no team is safe just yet. The bookies clearly think Espanyol is in trouble, but I’m tempted by the outsiders’ prices in this market.

Let’s take a closer look at the teams who are set to battle for survival over the next couple of months. It’s important to remember that there are three relegation spots that need filling.

Espanyol

Espanyol’s fall from grace this season has been nothing short of meteoric. The Barcelona outfit qualified for the Europa League with a seventh-place finish last term. But after picking up a measly four wins in 27 league games in 2019/20, Espanyol now sits rock bottom of La Liga.

Six points from safety, the Budgerigars don’t have much time to turn things around. And with games against five of the top seven still to come, I wouldn’t be surprised if Espanyol has used the three-month lay-off to plan for life in the second tier.

Mallorca

Mallorca may be third from bottom, but the bookies have named the Balearic Islands club as the second-favorite to go down. This is likely due to their dreaded run-in, which sees them come up against Barcelona, Real Madrid, Sevilla, and Atletico in the coming weeks.

No team in the bottom six has won more games than Mallorca this season, but their inability to settle for a draw has also seen them record the most losses in the division. Steering clear of the bottom three is certainly going to be a challenge.

Leganes

It’s hardly surprising that the division’s lowest-scoring side is involved in the relegation battle. Second-bottom Leganes has been flirting with the drop ever since they broke into the top flight in 2016, so could this finally be the year that the minnow returns to the second tier?

Shock victories over Sociedad and Villarreal leading up to the break will have filled the team with some much-needed confidence. Still, after only managing to win one of their first 15 games this season, you can’t help but feel that the damage has already been done.

Eibar

A dismal run of four defeats in their previous five games — including a humiliating 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Barcelona — has left Eibar lingering just two points clear of the bottom three.

Manager Jose Luis Mendilibar has done well to keep his side in La Liga for the past four seasons, but the club’s six-year stay in the top flight is in danger of coming to an end. It goes without saying that a trip to the Bernabeu for their first game back isn’t likely to stand Eibar in good stead for the remainder of the campaign.

Real Valladolid

Valladolid avoided relegation by four points last season, and the Castile and Leon club currently sits four points clear of the bottom three once again. It’s fair to say that the team has struggled to adapt to the demands of top-flight action following promotion two years ago.

Finding the back of the net has been Valladolid’s problem throughout 2019/20. Sergio’s men have netted more than one goal on just two occasions in their previous 15 outings, while only Leganes and Celta Vigo have scored fewer in the division.

Celta Vigo

Despite sitting fourth from bottom and only one point clear of the drop zone, the bookies’ odds suggest that Celta Vigo isn’t in too much trouble. Sure, they have won the same number of games as eighth-place Villarreal and ninth-place Granada. But only Espanyol has lost more.

Having said that, a five-game unbeaten before the season was put on hold has drastically boosted the club’s chances of survival. Celta picked up draws with top-five sides Real Madrid and Getafe during that period, along with victories over high-flying Sevilla and relegation rival Leganes.

The goals of former Liverpool forward Iago Aspas could also give Celta an edge. No other team in this market possesses a marksman as lethal as him.

Pick
  • Real Valladolid to Be Relegated
    4.00

Espanyol has been doomed for a while now. The bottom club has endured a woeful campaign, but odds of 1.22 aren’t worth bothering with. Still, there are two other relegation places that must be filled.

It wouldn’t be a shock to see Mallorca or Leganes go down. But again, with both of their prices below 1.50, I believe there is better value to be found elsewhere.

In my opinion, Valladolid is the best bet in this market. Sergio’s side may be fifteenth as things stand, but a couple of poor results could easily see the four-point gap between them and the bottom three diminish.

As well as having to face Barcelona, Valladolid still has fixtures against Atletico, Getafe, Sevilla, and Valencia to come. When you couple their unfortunate run-in with their poor goalscoring record, it doesn’t look good for Valladolid.

And just in case you need further convincing, Valladolid is priced at 4.00!

Wrap-Up

La Liga has to be the tightest major European soccer league right now. Liverpool has run away with the EPL title, while Bayer Munich looks set to clinch yet another Bundesliga crown. But the title race in Spain’s top tier is set to go the distance.

The battle for a top-four finish is also going to be intense, and the relegation dogfight is likely to take plenty of twists and turns before the end of the season.

Personally, I can’t wait for La Liga to return. It’s been a struggle without any top-level soccer over the past few months, but we can now begin to watch — and bet on — our favorite leagues once again.

As all the major leagues restart, make sure you keep up to date with all the latest developments over at our soccer blog.

Ben Morris

Ben is a sportswriter and tipster who specializes in soccer. Currently based in the UK, he has traveled all around the world watching – and betting on – his beloved sport.

Alongside his regular soccer content, Ben publishes blogs and picks for cricket, Formula 1, Aussie rules, darts, and various other sports.

Ben is a diehard fan of Nottingham Forest and England, so he hasn’t had much to cheer about in recent years!

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