Predictions and Picks for La Liga Matchday 35 (2021)
The top three all won at the weekend to keep the title race as close as ever. None of Atletico, Real Madrid and Barcelona looked particularly convincing in their victories but they all did better than Sevilla, who lost ground by losing on Monday.
But the battle at the other end of the table is even closer, with only bottom of the table Eibar managing to record a rare victory at the weekend. That gave the Basque club some faint hope of staying up – but it is all getting very nervy at the foot of the table now.
|Bottom of La Liga Current Standings|
With just four games left this season, every point is vital at the top and bottom of the league. I am going to preview all ten games in Spain this weekend, starting with Real Sociedad vs Elche on Friday – and share three of the best betting picks to consider.
Real Sociedad to Beat Elche
Real Sociedad gave Huesca renewed belief about its chances of staying up last week when it lost 1-0 away from home. More worrying for head coach Imanol will be the feeling that La Real has started to feel the effects of a very long season. A Europa League place should still be a fairly straightforward task but an end to the surprise results would do wonders.
How Elche could do with a little help with its own battle against relegation. After going toe-to-toe with Atletico last week, Fran Escriba’s side had a glorious chance to salvage an unlikely point when it was awarded a penalty in stoppage time. Fidel Chaves struck the post with his spot kick and the Elche players sunk to their knees. Relegation is far from guaranteed but that seemed like a pivotal moment.
Alaves to Beat Levante
Javier Calleja’s mini revival at Alaves came to a halt at the weekend as it was thumped 3-0 away at bottom of the table Eibar. After a four-game unbeaten streak, the result came as something of a surprise. But the players have a great chance to make up for that on Saturday as they welcome Levante to the Mendizorozza. A win would see Alaves remain outside of the bottom three.
Levante is playing as though it is already safe from dropping down to Segunda B. But after four straight defeats, the Valencia club is still only eight points from danger and could be caught by a number of sides if results go the wrong way this weekend. There has been a distinct lack of goals scored in the last two months as well, so Levante does not look like a team you would want to back at the moment.
Barcelona to Beat Atletico Madrid
There are two huge games in La Liga this weekend – and this is definitely one of them. Third plays first with neither side blowing away the opposition in recent games. Barca has looked the more composed of late, though, following up the shock home defeat to Granada last week with a vital 3-2 win away at Valencia on Sunday. That will have settled some nerves and puts the Catalan club in good stead ahead of this home game on Saturday.
Atletico benefitted from a last minute Elche penalty hitting the post as it stumbled to three more points at the weekend. Diego Simeone’s side looked off its game throughout but still leads the way in La Liga thanks to the victory. But now the prospect of Barca at the Camp Nou could be too much, allowing Ronald Koeman’s side – and possibly Real – to overtake Atletico at just the wrong time.
Cadiz and Huesca to Draw
A win for Cadiz on Saturday would ensure another season of La Liga soccer for the league’s southernmost club. But the victory away at Granada last weekend has all but assured Alvaro Cervera’s side of another opportunity to face the best clubs in Spain next season. A goal just before half time was enough to earn all three points and with Negredo up front, Cadiz should be able to pick up at least another point on Saturday.
Cadiz will be facing a side that has been steadily improving over the last few months though. Huesca had looked dead and buried before Pacheta took over at the start of the year, but the new head coach delivered almost immediately. There had been three consecutive defeats before the victory over Real Sociedad at the weekend though. So Sandro’s goal just four minutes from time could turn out to be invaluable. A draw here at least will still be needed though.
Athletic Club to Beat Osasuna
Inaki Williams’ stoppage time goal on Monday has probably ended Sevilla’s hopes of a surprise La Liga title, while also reigniting Athletic’s dreams of qualifying for Europe this season. Williams broke Sevilla hearts with his winner and kept his club’s eight-game unbeaten streak going at the same time. Six of those have been draws though, so there needs to be more victories if the Basque club is to break into the top seven.
Osasuna doesn’t tend to roll over for any opponent but defeat at the end of a hard-fought game with Real Madrid last weekend ended any remote chances of European qualification for the Pamplona club. That means that the players might not be quite as enthusiastic on Saturday. A mid table finish seemed beyond Osasuna’s wildest dreams just a few months ago though, so losing to Athletic at the San Mames will not cause too many sleepless nights.
Getafe and Eibar to Draw
This fixture looks to be a complete contrast of styles between two clubs that are desperate for points. The advantage for Getafe is that it can probably afford to grind out another low-scoring draw and still feel relatively confident of staying up.
Another point in the early game on Sunday will keep his side out of the bottom three.
Jose Luis Mendilibar has a very different soccer outlook but knows that anything goes when it comes to winning crunch games at the end of a season. He seemed almost offended when he was asked about the shock win for Eibar against Alaves last weekend, but pointed to hat-trick hero Kike as the main reason why his club still has a slight chance of staying up. Kike will need to on top form again this Sunday to keep the dream alive.
Valencia and Valladolid to Draw
After the season Valencia and its head coach have endured, now might seem a strange time to sack Javi Gracia. He has wanted out for a long time but six winless games finally brought about his dismissal with club legend Voro taking over until the end of the season. That should be a season where Los Che remain in La Liga, but even a point here would go a long way to making that certain.
Valladolid picked up its 16th draw of the season last week when Shon Weissman equalized with around 20 minutes remaining in the game against Real Betis. The point may turn out to be invaluable but with poor head-to-head records against both Huesca and Elche, Valladolid needs to pull away from the bottom three quickly. It might be a case of the same old story on Sunday though.
Celta Vigo to Beat Villarreal
At the time of writing this preview Villarreal was preparing for its huge Europa League semifinal second leg game against Arsenal. But whether Unai Emery’s side is able to keep its first leg lead or not on Thursday, I feel confident enough to predict a defeat on Sunday. If the Yellow Submarine win against the Gunners, all concentration will switch to the upcoming final – and if it loses I think the blow will be too big to get over before the weekend.
Celta Vigo will still need to do its part for my prediction to come true, of course. But Eduardo Coudet’s side has just won back-to-back games for the first time since the purple patch before Christmas. It was another comprehensive team effort last Friday to beat a tired Levante and a mid-table finish will be assured with another win against Villarreal this weekend.
Real Madrid to Beat Sevilla
Speaking of important midweek European games. Real Madrid faced Chelsea in the Champions League on Wednesday and didn’t challenge nearly enough to make it through to the final in Istanbul at the end of the month. But there is still the small matter of the La Liga title race to fall back on for Zinedine Zidane’s men. Real is fortunate to meet a Sevilla side now realistically out of the running. A lot will depend on the goals of Karim Benzema once again, but victory could see Los Blancos go top.
Sevilla’s defeat at the hands of Athletic on Monday, thanks to a last-minute Inaki Williams goal – has virtually finished the club’s season. Champions League qualification has been won and Julen Lopetegui has transformed the side into a genuine contender. Barcelona will be worried now that the Sevilla players will not be as up for this game as they might have been. But it has been a grueling campaign and a defeat will make no difference to the final position in the table.
Real Betis to Beat Granada
Around a month ago Real Betis looked assured of a European spot but there has been a succession of draws since the beginning of April. That has narrowed the gap between the Seville club and Monday’s opponent, as well as ruining any chances of claiming a Europa League place with weeks of the season still to go.
Now Betis might have to make do with the third-tier Europa Conference League and that would be a shame after the season the club has had. A win here would keep the pressure on Villarreal and Real Sociedad.
Granada’s season, on the other hand, looked just about over a few weeks ago before it went and beat Barcelona in the Camp Nou. That was just the latest impressive performance from a club that has dealt with injuries, COVID and the tiredness associated with an extended Europa League campaign.
Players like Roberto Soldado have been incredible this year and can now just about rest up in preparation for next season. That might mean that Betis enjoys Monday’s game a little more.
My Match Day 35 La Liga Betting Picks
With so much on the line for a lot of La Liga clubs this weekend, my picks are concentrated on games where I feel that there could be a slight upset of sorts. There are usually some surprising results at this time of the season and that can mean some excellent value when it comes to betting opportunities.
My first pick is for Huesca to give a shot in the arm to its hopes of survival by going to Cadiz and coming away with a point. I’m not sure that that will be enough to keep this plucky side in the top flight, but it does keep the dream alive for another week at least – and the odds from Betway look inviting.
I have used the same way of thinking for my second pick, where I feel Valladolid has an excellent chance of getting something from this game at the Mestalla. I would have actually gone for the away win here – but I think Valencia will benefit from the appointment of interim head coach Voro. He is a very familiar face at the club and the players should react favorably.
My final pick for this weekend in Spain is for Villarreal’s players to feel the effects of their Europa League semifinal tie on Thursday and fall to the energetic style of Celta Vigo. This game takes place on Sunday and I think there will not be enough time to recuperate for the home team, no matter what the result of the game against Arsenal turns out to be.