La Liga Predictions – February 26 – March 1, 2021
No one thought that Atletico would draw with Levante again after last week. Well, the Madrid club didn’t – it lost – and now the La Liga title race looks to have livened up a little. Diego Simeone’s side is still three points clear with a game in hand, but things have definitely gotten a little interesting in the past week.
Real Madrid is the main beneficiary, as it plugs away in second. While Barcelona might have won its midweek game, but the draw with Cadiz surely leaves it too far behind the leaders with just 14 games to play.
The battle at the bottom of the table is beginning to look just as close, if not closer. Thanks to the majority of clubs involved seemingly unable to win a game, just three points separate the bottom five.
Matchday 25 kicks off on Friday with Levante looking to continue its fine form against Athletic Club at home. I’ll be looking at that fixture – and the other nine over the weekend, as well as picking out three of the best bets to consider in the Spanish top flight.
Levante to Beat Athletic Club
It has not been a bad week for Paco Lopez and his Levante team. The prospect of facing league leaders Atletico twice in four days will have seemed daunting. But Levante managed to take four points from the two fixtures and will now look forward to this game against Athletic. It will actually play the Basque club again in the cup next Thursday, so we might see the same story once again.
Unsurprisingly, Athletic could only draw at home with Villarreal last weekend – the 13th time the Yellow Submarine has shared the points this season. That’s three games unbeaten for Marcelino, who is beginning to stabilize the Bilbao club after taking over at the start of the year. There are some tough fixtures coming up, though, so some more positive results would definitely help.
Huesca to Beat Eibar
There are going to be a number of relegation six-pointers between local-ish rivals in the next few weeks – and Eibar against Huesca certainly falls into that category. Eibar’s form has dropped dramatically since the turn of the year and last week’s defeat, by a single goal to Elche, made it seven games without a win. Eibar only stays out of the bottom three on goal difference at the moment, and it might be a case of head-to-head records at the end of the season.
Huesca looked as though it would be making a swift return to Segunda B not that long ago. It is still bottom of the league, but the 3-2 win at home against Granada last week has put Huesca just one victory from climbing out of the relegation zone. There was a flurry of first-half goals that won last weekend’s clash, and another quick start could catch Eibar cold on Saturday.
Sevilla and Barcelona to Draw
The league title is probably beyond either of these two now, but there is still a very good chance of qualifying for the Champions League for both clubs. Not making the top four would be a disaster for Barca, of course. But Sevilla looks to have more chance of feeling secure about that eventuality. It still has a game in hand on the Catalan club and goes into this game on the back of six successive victories.
Barcelona sort of made up for the woeful performance against Cadiz last weekend – and the thrashing it received at the hands of PSG in the week – with a 3-0 win over Elche on Wednesday. But even then, the first half was one to quickly forget, and there were only three shots offered by Barca all night. Luckily they all went in, but it does not bode well for a tough game this weekend. A draw should probably be regarded as a very good result for Ronald Koeman.
Osasuna to Beat Alaves
Alaves was dreadful against Real Sociedad last weekend and probably could have lost by more than the four unanswered goals it ended up conceding. Manager Abelardo offered no excuses and knows that there has to be far more effort from his players if they are not to be earning their money in the second tier next season. It is far too close at the bottom to not at least try.
A good example of how a team has turned around its season would be this Saturday’s opponent, Osasuna. The Pamplona club lost last weekend at home to Sevilla but has climbed from the bottom of the table at Christmas to its current 13th position. It is not out of the woods yet, as the league table is so close at the foot. But another win here is definitely possible – and that could make all the difference.
Valencia to Beat Getafe
Getafe lost its fourth straight game last Friday and has been dragged into the scramble near the bottom of the league. It conceded two very debatable penalties against Real Betis – one that was scored and one that was saved – but cannot really feel as though it should have gotten anything out of the game. Getafe has the worst goal-scoring record in La Liga – and that will be a problem in the final months of the season.
Valencia has actually scored more than nearly every other club in the bottom half of the table. But there is still a lot to worry about at the club as it limps towards the end of the season. Unable to afford to offload manager Javi Gracia, Los Che has been inconsistent with its results all season but beat Celta Vigo last weekend thanks to two stoppage-time goals. A little bit of luck was very welcome at Valencia – and it could do with some more this Saturday.
Celta Vigo to Beat Valladolid
Celta Vigo must have thought it had survived being reduced to ten men for the last half hour of its game at the Mestalla last weekend. But two goals after the end of the 90 minutes cruelly took away a point and kept the record of just one win in the last eight games. The absence of Iago Aspas explains a few of those results, but what had looked like being an interesting season is now beginning to slow down into a mid-table finish for the Galician club.
That being said, Celta should have no trouble overcoming an increasingly desperate Valladolid on Sunday. Real Madrid was severely depleted for its game against Sergio Gonzalez’s side last weekend but still ended up taking three points back to the capital and leaving Valladolid deep in trouble. There has been just one win in the last 11 games, and a relegation fight is inevitable now.
Real Betis to Beat Cadiz
It has been an excellent season for Alvaro Cervera and his Cadiz players. They had already beaten Real Madrid in the capital – and beaten Barcelona at the Ramon de Carranza. But on Sunday, it took another point from the Blaugrana, this time at the Camp Nou. An 89th-minute penalty from Alex canceled out an earlier spot-kick from Lionel Messi and launched a thousand newspaper headlines about Barca. A few more wins would make life a little safer, but Cadiz should stay up this season.
Betis has a European place on its mind, though. It needed its own late penalty to beat a stubborn, if limited, Getafe side last Friday to stay in seventh – just a point outside the top six. Sergio Canales had actually missed a penalty just seven minutes before Borja Iglesias showed him just how it is done. Defeat would have been unacceptable for manager Manuel Pellegrini, but now he can look forward to some more supposedly easier fixtures – and a possible rise in the table.
Granada to Beat Elche
Granada head coach Diego Martinez will be looking at this game against Elche as a perfect opportunity for his team to pick up a first win in six attempts and maybe get its own European qualification quest back on track. Finishing in the top six would be a huge achievement for the club, especially considering all the injury and COVID-related problems it has had this season. But this alarming slide down in the table needs to end now.
That is something that Fran Escriba is hoping will happen at his new club too. Elche had gone 16 games without a win before he took over on Valentine’s Day – and then he immediately oversaw a win in the next game against fellow strugglers Eibar. There was a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Barcelona this week. But the result in the Camp Nou would have been expected – and Elche made it all the way to the 48th minute before the home team scored. Things might get better now, but it is going to be tough for Fran Escriba and Elche.
Villarreal and Atletico Madrid to Draw
Surprise, surprise. Villarreal drew its game with Athletic last week, making it 13 games this season where it has taken just a point. Considering that Unai Emery’s side sits sixth in the league, there must be a thought of what might have been if they had managed to turn some of those draws into wins. But this is a very accomplished team – and one that could take advantage of Atletico’s recent blip. It could be number 14 this Sunday.
It is probably wrong to say that Diego Simeone would be happy with a draw away from home this weekend, as he is well-known for his desire to win every game – whatever it takes. But results have soured in the last few weeks. Atleti took just one point from two games in four days against Levante and then followed that up with a defeat to Chelsea in the Champions League. It is still top of the league with a game in hand, but everything has gotten a little closer now. Maybe a draw would be a good result?
Real Madrid and Real Sociedad to Draw
Matchday 25 draws to a close on Monday as Real Madrid entertains Real Sociedad at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano. Zinedine Zidane is struggling to field a full squad these days because of injury and illness and must be pleased that his side has continued to win games, both in La Liga and in the Champions League. There is a reliance on Karim Benzama to score the goals, though – and if he is missing again for this one, Los Blancos might find it difficult to overcome La Real.
Real Sociedad looked back to its brilliant best on Sunday as it took advantage of playing against a woeful Alaves to record a convincing 4-0 win. All four goals were of the highest standard, with Portu rounding off with the fourth after Swedish striker Alexander Isak had scored a hat-trick within 20 minutes on either side of the halftime break. The Basque club has reclaimed some early season form in the last few weeks, and a draw here would give it the confidence to believe that a top-four finish is not beyond these players.
My Top La Liga Picks for February 26 – March 1, 2021
Here are my three betting picks for this week’s La Liga games on matchday 25. Odds are courtesy of Betway.
- Huesca to beat Eibar – 3.60
- Sevilla and Barcelona to draw – 3.40
- Real Madrid and Real Sociedad to draw – 3.60
I’ve gone for three bets this week that might seem a little risky. But given the way results have gone this season in La Liga, I think there is some great value to be found, as bookmakers remain loyal to the big two. But my first pick is for Huesca to win and possibly climb off the bottom of the league. I’ve been impressed with the work rate of the La Liga new boys and feel as though Eibar could be there for the taking.
Speaking of teams there for the taking. Barcelona has looked a shadow of its former self at times this season and already seems to be out of the title race. There is still a lot of talent in the squad, of course, but all is not well at Camp Nou. That might allow Sevilla to take at least a point from their encounter on Saturday.
My final pick for matchday 25 is for the other La Liga giant to also finish with just a draw from its game against Real Sociedad on Monday. La Real has been very enjoyable to watch at times this season and might be beginning another good run of form. Real Madrid is being forced to play a different lineup from one game to the next – and that could have an effect here.