La Liga Predictions and Best Bets – February 5-8, 2021
Should Real Madrid and Barcelona now concede that the La Liga title race is over? There is a long way to go, of course, but with Atletico at the top of the league – ten points clear and with a game in hand – it is going to take a huge turnaround for one of the big two to end up with the trophy.
We are only on matchday 22, however – and there are ten more fixtures in the Spanish top flight this weekend, starting on Friday and ending on Monday. As usual, I’m going to take a look at all the games in La Liga as well as pick out three bets to consider for matchday 22.
Alaves and Valladolid to Draw
Not the most enticing fixture of the weekend to kick things off. But a crucial one for both Valladolid and Alaves. The home side ended a four-game losing streak last weekend by seeing out a goalless draw at Getafe. That was the first point gained under new manager Abelardo, but it is difficult to see how much inspiration can be taken from such an uninspiring result.
Valladolid might be keener to get over matchday 21, as it spent last Friday handing bottom of the table Huesca only its second win of the season. Sergio Gonzalez’s side had a few chances early on but was swept away in the second half and only ended up with a consolation goal in second-half stoppage time. Valladolid crashed out of the Copa del Rey in the week as well, so nothing is going right at the moment. A draw on Friday will hardly raise the spirits.
Levante to Beat Granada
Levante’s fine recent run of form continued in spectacular fashion last weekend, as it beat Real Madrid away from home – and it completely deserved the three points. Real was reduced to ten men within ten minutes, but Levante was the better team throughout the game and could even afford to go behind – and then miss a penalty – before winning 2-1 in the end.
Granada’s season has petered out a little in recent weeks, and it was unable to find the net last weekend in a goalless draw at home with Celta Vigo. Granada had won handsomely in the cup earlier in the week and enjoyed the majority of chances against the Galicians but finished a third consecutive league game without a win. Levante would seem to be more up for the fight at the moment.
Real Madrid to Beat Huesca
Huesca’s spirits will be up after the comprehensive victory it enjoyed last week over Valladolid. But it is still bottom of the league and preparing to play against one of the biggest clubs in the country. Rafa Mir doubled his season’s tally by scoring all three in the win on Friday but will surely not get as many chances this weekend against the champions.
Zinedine Zidane was still at home recovering from COVID for Real Madrid’s home defeat at the hands of Levante, and he would have been dismayed at the lack of fight his players showed throughout the game. Although Los Blancos opened the scoring, there was no enthusiasm from the team, and the 2-1 defeat was fully deserved. You would have to imagine that there will be some kind of reaction to that result on Saturday.
Villarreal to Beat Elche
Elche’s horrendous run continues as it lost by a single goal in the Mestalla last weekend to make it 14 games without a win now. There has only been one point picked up in the last five games as well. Unsurprisingly Jorge Almiron’s side remains firmly in the bottom three and looks unable to turn things around at the current time.
Villarreal is enjoying a much better season and has actually only lost two games so far. But the draw with Real Sociedad was the third in a row, even after Dani Parejo’s wonder strike had given his team an early lead. Manager Unai Emery will now be looking at this weekend’s fixture as a good opportunity to get back to winning ways.
Sevilla to Beat Getafe
Sevilla continues to look good this season, and the win away at Eibar last weekend made it just one defeat in the last ten La Liga games – and that was against Atletico. The big news of the week was the signing of Papu Gomez from Atalanta, but Julen Lopetegui kept the Argentinian on the bench throughout as his side eased to another comfortable victory.
The opposition might be a little harder to break down this Saturday, as Getafe is renowned for grinding results out rather than blowing opponents out of the water. The goalless draw at home with Alaves last week would have been a disappointment, but at least it was an improvement on the thrashing it received from Athletic the week before. Anything from the trip to Seville would be a bonus, you would have to think.
Real Sociedad to Beat Cadiz
There has only been one La Liga win in the last two months for Real Sociedad after what was an exhilarating start to the campaign. But the 1-1 draw away at Villarreal showed signs that the Basque club might be ready to make a renewed assault on the league table. Alexander Isak scored the stoppage-time equalizer to salvage a point, but the performance of new signing Carlos Fernandez suggests that there will be more than few attacking options for La Real in the rest of the season.
The talent that Real Sociedad has going forward is the main reason why I feel that Cadiz will not be able to compete on Sunday. There was no shame in the home defeat at the hands of Atletico last weekend, but manager Alvaro Cervera will be a little worried that his side has only won once in the last nine La Liga games. That will probably be ten by the end of this fixture.
Athletic Club to Beat Valencia
Athletic was a little unlucky to come away from the Camp Nou with nothing to show for its efforts last weekend, but it will feel as though it is ready to give some of the weaker sides in La Liga a good game now. That should include Valencia – and if a more consistent run of form can be found over the next month, the Basque club might be able to push for those European qualification spots once again.
Valencia could afford to miss a penalty from the usually reliable Carlos Soler last weekend and still take all three points from its fixture with Elche. But with the lack of chances shown by the visiting side, manager Javi Gracia will have thought that his team should have won by a much more comprehensive scoreline. It might not get the same opportunity on Sunday.
Osasuna to Beat EIbar
A string of draws since the start of the year has helped Osasuna haul itself out of the bottom three, but it was unable to capitalize on a succession of chances last week as it went down 1-0 to Real Betis. The Pamplona club was to rue those misses as the home side stepped up a gear near the end of the game. But there is a little more fight in this team now – and a home win against Eibar should be possible.
Eibar was outclassed by Sevilla last weekend and has now gone four games without a win. With just one victory since the end of November, Eibar’s league position has changed from a comfortable mid-table berth to just a point off of the drop zone – and another defeat here could see Jose Luis Mendilibar’s side drop into the bottom three.
Barcelona to Beat Real Betis
Keeper Joel Robles was the hero for Betis in the win over Osasuna on Monday. Borja Iglesias may have scored the goal ten minutes from time that won the points, but it was the man between the sticks that kept out waves of Osasuna attacks to keep his team in the game early on. There was no Sergio Canales show this week, but Manuel Pellegrini will be pleased that his team is poised to compete for a Europa League place this season.
That quest may have to be put on hold for a week, however, as Betis face a Barcelona team that has won every single game in January – with four league games and two Copa del Rey ties played away from home. That means that another trip, this time to Seville, will not trouble the Blaugrana. Lionel Messi is in good form, even if the headlines are all about his financial deals at the moment, so he could well be the difference here.
Atletico Madrid to Beat Celta Vigo
Matchday 22 finishes up with the league leaders hoping to extend the gap at the summit. But even if everything remains the same, Diego Simeone must be privately thinking that neither Real Madrid nor Barcelona can catch his side now. Luis Suarez scored yet again in the 4-2 win away at Cadiz to keep his new club on course for a first La Liga title in seven years. How Barcelona must be ruing letting him go.
Celta Vigo has its own club superstar, of course, and Iago Aspas was back from injury last week for the game against Granada. His absence has been very noticeable, but he was unable to inspire a first win in five for Celta. Eduardo Coudet will be overjoyed to have him back in the side, though, as it just isn’t able to challenge without the talismanic striker. Even he might not be able to do anything about beating Atleti, though.
My Top La Liga Picks for February 5-8, 2021
Here are my three betting picks for this week’s La Liga games on matchday 22. Odds are courtesy of Betway.
- Levante to beat Granada – 2.25
- Athletic to beat Valencia – 2.10
- Osasuna to beat Eibar – 2.62
There are not a lot of overly attractive prices this week, with many of the top teams facing markedly weaker opposition. But I fancy Levante to carry on from last week’s excellent win away at Real Madrid and overcome a Granada side that looks a little stuck at the moment.
Valencia has looked very poor this season, even if it has managed to pull away from the bottom three in recent weeks. Athletic will be the team with more enthusiasm here, I feel, though, so a home win should be on the cards.
My final pick is backing a team that looked well off the pace just a few weeks ago to win for the second time in three games and pull further away from the relegation zone. Osasuna looked very good for the opening hour against Betis and should find Eibar a little easier to break down.