La Liga Predictions and Best Bets – April 18, 2021

| April 17, 2021 6:33 am PDT

It doesn’t seem that long ago, the La Liga title race looked just about over, if not completely sewn up. Atletico took the trophy from city rivals Real Madrid, while Barcelona descended into chaos and farce.

But now, with eight games of the season remaining, Real Madrid sits just a point behind Atletico after beating Barcelona in the rain-swept Clasico last weekend. Barca is only a point behind Zinedine Zidane’s side as well – so there is definitely still all to play for.

Barcelona will be busy battling Athletic in the Copa del Rey final this weekend, so there are just eight fixtures in La Liga. I’ll be looking at all of the matchday 31 games as usual, as well as picking out three of the best bets to consider.

Osasuna to Beat Elche

Every game this weekend is being played on Sunday, and Osasuna has a great opportunity to pull even further clear of the relegation battle at the foot of the table as it welcomes Elche to town. The Pamplona side has been one of the success stories in the second part of the season after looking like certainties for the drop earlier in the campaign. An excellent win against a Villarreal side with the Europa League on its mind brought in another three points last weekend – and there could be three more on Sunday.

That’s because Elche’s fortunes have turned in the opposite direction to Osasuna’s. A 3-1 defeat away against Huesca last weekend saw Fran Escriba’s side drop back into the bottom three – and allowed its opponent to climb out sensationally. After such a good start to the season, Elche has dropped like a stone – drawing far too many games and looking like it will be relegated. There have been just two victories since October, and that doesn’t look like changing this weekend.

Sevilla to Beat Real Sociedad

After lifting the 2019/20 Cop del Rey trophy in a rescheduled final a few weeks ago, La Real has drawn against Athletic and Valencia to see any faint hope of qualifying for the Champions League disappear. There is a real race to qualify for Europe at all now, and losing to Sevilla on Sunday could turn out to be pivotal. Real Sociedad was actually leading 2-0 before Valencia came back into the game last weekend, and now head coach Imanol will really need to raise his players once again.

Sevilla had already traded five goals with Celta Vigo by the time the interval came around on Monday and finished beating the Galician club 4-3 to consolidate its own Champions League place. Papu Gomez scored the winner with around a quarter of an hour to go, but it was an engrossing encounter from start to finish and one that showed why Sevilla has done so well this season. Julen Lopetegui will probably want his defense to be a little tighter, but five games are unbeaten now for Sevilla.

Alaves and Huesca to Draw

Alaves continues to be in deep trouble, but there was a glimmer of hope last weekend with a point gained from the clash with Athletic at the San Mames. There has still only been one win since just before Christmas – in a period when Abelardo came and went as head coach – but that draw could give the players some much-needed hope. It was Javier Calleja’s first game in charge since Abelardo’s sacking, and now he needs to work out how to get his side to take all three points again.

That may not come this week because Huesca looks like it will actually pull off the great escape now.

Pacheta came in as head coach in the middle of January with the club rock bottom of the league and having won just one game all season.

After the 3-1 win against Elche last week, Huesca has now climbed out of the bottom three for the first time since October and is on a three-game unbeaten run. It should pick up another three points on Sunday, but I have a feeling that the home side’s desperation could force a draw.

Atletico Madrid to Beat Eibar

It is top versus bottom in La Liga this weekend, and this game couldn’t have come at a better time for Diego Simeone and Atletico. After looking as though he would get the better of Zinedine Zidane this season, Simeone now finds his side just one point ahead at the top of the league. With this, the media now predicts that Real will win the title. Last week’s 1-1 draw with Betis didn’t help matters, and now a straightforward win – the first in three games – is definitely needed.

Eibar has only won one game since the turn of the year and lost again last weekend at home to Levante. That run of form has seen the Basque club drop to the very bottom of the La Liga table for the first time this season – and it is difficult to see how it is now going to climb out of the bottom three. Although Jose Louis Mendilibar’s side has not performed terribly defensively this season, it does have the worst goals record in the league – and it is unlikely that Eibar will add to its tally on Sunday.

Cadiz and Celta Vigo to Draw

Cadiz has been involved in some very unsavory moments in the last month, but head coach Alvaro Cervera has now seen his side win back-to-back games for the first time this season. The win against Getafe last weekend pushed the club to 35 points as it climbed to 12th in the table. The job is not completely done, but Cadiz should plan for another season in the top-flight – a huge achievement for the club.

Celta Vigo’s season has been just as much of a rollercoaster. A poor start saw head coach Oscar Garcia sacked before the tenth game had been played. Eduardo Coudet immediately changed things around, and for a while, it looked as though European soccer might be part of the immediate future. An injury to talismanic captain Iago Aspas put paid to that, but his return has steadied the ship, and he scored two more goals last week in the seven-goal thriller against Sevilla. After all that excitement, we can probably only expect a draw this week.

Real Betis to Beat Valencia

Real Betis continues to make a decent play for European soccer next season after managing to keep leaders Atletico to a draw last week. The Madrid side took an early lead, but Betis equalized thanks to a wonderful volley from Tello just 15 minutes later. After that, Manuel Pellegrini’s side took advantage of a string of injuries in the Atletico team and should have really won it before relying on keeper Claudio Bravo to twice save the day right at the end.

Betis has only lost once in the last eight games and should have little trouble overcoming Valencia.

Los Che has improved quite a bit since the start of the year when relegation didn’t seem to be a completely outlandish prospect, and head coach Javi Gracia would have left the club if it could afford to do so. The results haven’t always gone Valencia’s way since then, but there have been enough victories to keep it out of danger, and now a mid-table finish is looking more likely. This game should still end in defeat, though.

Real Madrid to Beat Getafe

Time for the ‘other’ Madrid derby. As usual, these two clubs are enjoying wildly different campaigns, but until recently, it had looked as though both would be disappointed at the end of the season. Now Getafe is the one in real trouble. The 1-0 defeat at home at the hands of Cadiz last weekend made it just one win in 12 games and has Getafe just four points ahead of Elche in the bottom three. The only good news is that there are a lot of other clubs struggling at the moment. Another defeat here seems almost a certainty.

That’s because Real Madrid has really started to perform, grinding out some results and playing teams off the pitch in other games. Although it looked like its head coach would be sacked at the end of the season, Real has gone to reach the Champions League’s semifinals, within a point of Atletico at the top of the table. There have been standout performances throughout the team, and now it is not inconceivable to regard Real as the favorites to win the title once again.

Villarreal to Beat Levante

It has been a strange couple of months for Levante. It was able to take four points off Atletico in the space of just four days – and then beat Valencia at home to consolidate an impressive mid-table position. Paco Lopez’s side lost two in a row and only just managed to beat the bottom of the table Eibar last weekend. The club is probably doing about as good as it can in La Liga, but there is a suggestion that it might achieve so much more. Now that top-flight soccer is secure for another season, there may well be a further drop in form.

Villarreal lost at home to a fast-improving Osasuna last week. Still, head coach Unai Emery rested the main man Gerard Moreno at the start in readiness for the Europa League quarterfinal game against Dinamo Zagreb. He did come on in the second half but could not turn the game as he has done so many times this season. That defeat has left Villarreal on the outside looking in as far as European qualification goes. But Emery’s plan seems to have worked, as his side now gets ready to face his old club Arsenal in the semifinal.

My Top La Liga Picks for April 18, 2021

Here are my top three betting picks for this week’s La Liga games on matchday 31..

Osasuna to Beat Elche1.90
Alaves and Huesca to Draw3.10
Cadiz and Celta Vigo to Draw3.50

It is a depleted round of fixtures this weekend due to the Copa del Rey final on Saturday. But there are still some value bets to be found. My first is for Osasuna to beat Elche at home. To be completely honest, the odds are not terrific here. But Jagoba Arrasate’s side has looked very good in the latter part of the season – and should not have a problem getting past a struggling Elche.

Next up is the draw bet for the game between Alaves and Huesca. This one is a little bit more of a punt as Huesca has played well in recent weeks and looks as though it will escape the drop now. Alaves has looked far from impressive but is in dire need of points now – and I think that could swing this one in the way of a draw.

My final pick this week is for another draw, this time between Cadiz and Celta Vigo. Cadiz has done extremely well to be in the position at this stage of the season and should be fine for another top-flight season. Celta Vigo has been a little hit and miss recently and will probably be quite happy with a draw away from home, as there is no chance of qualifying for Europe now.

Dan Roberts
Dan Roberts

Dan Roberts is an experienced freelance writer specialising in sports and sports betting. He is particularly knowledgeable about world soccer, but also writes about football, basketball and cricket.

As a fan of Nottingham Forest, New York Knicks, Minnesota Vikings and New York Mets, Dan has not had much to celebrate recently.

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  1. amos April 17, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    well explained

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