La Liga Predictions and Best Bets – April 21-22, 2021
There is a full set of midweek fixtures to enjoy in La Liga this week. With Real Madrid only managing a draw with Getafe at the weekend, Barca may feel as though it is the main challenger to Atletico at the top now. It now has a game in hand as it was busy thrashing Athletic to win the Copa del Rey on Saturday.
I’ll be taking a look at all ten games taking place on Wednesday and Thursday, as well as picking out three of the best bets to consider in La Liga on matchday 32.
Sevilla to Beat Levante
Levante didn’t really turn up for its local derby against Villarreal at the weekend and was roundly beaten 5-1 in the end by a rampant Yellow Submarine. The season is starting to slow down for the Valencia club, and a very comfortable mid-table position probably means that we are likely to see some more non-events over the coming weeks.
Sevilla still has it all to play for. A Champions League spot is all but guaranteed, but Julen Lopetegui’s side is actually only six points behind Atletico at the top of the table. With all the concentration on the big three, Sevilla will be hoping to glide in under the radar. After going down early to Real Sociedad last week, Sevilla came back to dominate the game and ended up with a very impressive victory. There should be three more points won on Wednesday.
Osasuna and Valencia to Draw
Osasuna dealt with Elche without too much trouble on Sunday and extended its unbeaten run to five games, moving up to 12th on the table in the process. It is quite remarkable how the Pamplona club has turned around its season after looking like relegation certainties at the turn of the year. Jagoba Arrasate should now be planning to push on even further next season.
Valencia has had more troubles than most this season but has started to play a little better in recent weeks. Los Che put in an excellent performance last weekend away at Real Betis, keeping up with Manuel Pellegrini’s side throughout the 90 minutes. The point won was well deserved, and it will be interesting to see what will happen at the club if Javi Gracia can keep the positivity up for the remainder of the campaign. If Valencia plays as it did at the weekend, it could pick up another vital point here.
Real Betis to Beat Athletic Club
Betis looked very bright against Valencia on Sunday but could not pull away from the visitors, having to settle with just the point in the end. That will feel more like two points lost by the Seville club and makes it three games in a row that have been drawn now. Nabil Fekir and Sergio Canales scored some excellent goals, but now is not the time to find it difficult to win games.
Athletic Club had the weekend off La Liga duty, as it played in its second Copa del Rey final in the space of two weeks. Unfortunately for the Basque club, it was the same result as Barcelona cruised to victory. Head coach Marcelino will now have to raise his crestfallen players to see out the league campaign. But with a mid-table place all but assured, it could be hard to raise the enthusiasm.
Villarreal to Beat Alaves
Could Javier Calleja lead Alaves to safety this season? Things were not looking good when Abelardo was sacked just three months after being appointed as head coach. The club has now picked up four points in two games, beating Huesca last week to climb out of the bottom three.
Villarreal may ruin Alaves’ dreams this week, as it is looking terrific at the moment and thrashed Levante 5-1 away from home at the weekend to consolidate its Europa League spot in fifth. Gerard Moreno was, once again, at the center of everything good for Unai Emery’s side, but the goals were spread around the team in a convincing display. With a European semifinal against Arsenal to look forward to, it is turning out to be a good season for the east coast club.
Valladolid to Beat Elche
This is a huge game at the foot of La Liga this week. With just four points separating the bottom five clubs, any kind of win is a huge boost now – especially if it comes against a relegation rival. Elche started well against Osasuna at the weekend but faded poorly and was well beaten in the end. If it plays like that on Wednesday, it will be on the losing side again.
Valladolid enjoyed a weekend off league duties and should come into this fixture much refreshed. There had been a couple of defeats before that break, but head coach Sergio had been able to get a little bit more out of his players previous to that. A win here could see Valladolid climb out of the bottom three with a home game against Cadiz at the weekend.
Real Madrid to Beat Cadiz
Cadiz continues to have a problem scoring goals this season but managed a very creditable draw with Celta Vigo at the weekend to maintain a healthy unbeaten run and a comfortable mid-table position. Some deep defending frustrated Celta and Cadiz was able to survive a disallowed goal to pick up another point as it gets closer to the end of a very successful season.
Real Madrid will not be looking for just a point on Wednesday, though. A severely depleted Los Blancos could only draw with Getafe on Sunday. That result handed the impetus back to Atletico and Barca in what is fast becoming a fascinating title race. All the attention has been on the sensational Super League announcement this week, but the Real players will need to be concentrating on the soccer on Wednesday to win three more crucial points.
Atletico Madrid to Beat Huesca
There was no Luis Suarez or Joao Felix for Atletico at the weekend. But there were also no problems for Diego Simeone’s side as it cruised to a 5-0 win against bottom of the table Eibar. Angel Correa and Marcos Llorente each scored twice in a thumping win that extended Atletico’s lead at the top, thanks to Real drawing with Getafe. Another easy-looking game here should pile even more pressure on the big two.
Pacheta will not be naïve enough to have thought that the job was done when Huesca hauled itself out of the bottom three last week. But the head coach would have been bitterly disappointed with how his players performed against fellow struggler Alaves on Sunday. The defeat was not enough for Huesca to fall back into the relegation zone, but another one on Thursday could see that happen.
Granada to Beat Eibar
Granada’s wonderful Europa League campaign came to an end last week as it lost to Manchester United at the quarterfinal stage, but it has to be said that it has been an excellent season for the club. Diego Martinez’s side would really have welcomed the weekend off after such a busy few months – and now faces a straightforward game against bottom of the table Eibar to get back into the swing of things.
Eibar looks as though it is already accepting its fate at the foot of the table.
The Basque club is struggling to score goals at the moment and is four points from safety now. That is not an insignificant amount at this stage of the season.
Real Sociedad to Beat Celta Vigo
It was always going to be a tough ask for Real Sociedad to keep up its early-season form for the entire campaign. But head coach Imanol must consider this a successful year after winning last season’s rescheduled Copa del Rey final and looking like qualifying for the new Europa Conference League at the very least. There seems to be a big enough points gap for that to happen, but another win on Thursday would really help.
Celta Vigo might have held some hope of European qualification itself a little earlier in the season but should also look back at this year with pride after a poor start. Bringing in Eduardo Coudet was the catalyst for change – and the Galician club has even been able to pick up some good results without relying on talismanic Iago Aspas every week. The goalless draw with Cadiz consolidated a comfortable mid-table place, so defeat here is not the end of the world.
Barcelona to Beat Getafe
Barcelona must do what Real Madrid couldn’t at the weekend and beat Getafe to put some pressure on Atletico at the top of La Liga. The Catalan club is also embroiled in the controversy surrounding the potential new European Super League. Still, it must play as though the qualification routes to the Champions League will remain the same for the rest of the season. After the year the club has had, a Copa del Rey triumph and a league title would be a huge achievement.
Getafe had the fortune to face a much-changed Real Madrid on Sunday but still faced a starting eleven that cost over €300m. The Getafe team was assembled for not even a tenth of that but was still able to frustrate the champions as it earned a point that might be pivotal in the club staying up this season. It is unlikely that it will be able to repeat the trick just four days later, though.
My Top La Liga Picks for April 21-22, 2021
There were definitely some surprising results at the weekend – and there would not have been many that backed Getafe to beat even a depleted Real Madrid side on Sunday. But the fixtures look a little more straightforward in midweek. I do fancy Valencia to follow up its positive draw with Betis with another against Osasuna, though.
Speaking of Betis, I feel as though it will have a point to prove as it chases European qualification this season. A beleaguered and broken Athletic Club should have nothing to play for and follow up two cup final defeats in the space of two weeks with another loss in the league here.
My final pick of the midweek fixtures is for Granada to beat in trouble Eibar at home on Thursday. There is nothing much left to play for at the home side now, but the goodwill and spirit that has been raised over the last few months could remain for a little while longer in my opinion. Eibar looks doomed and shouldn’t be able to raise itself for this one.