La Liga Predictions and Best Bets – January 22-25, 2021

| January 21, 2021 3:43 pm PDT

There were thrills and spills in cup games in Spain this week, but La Liga takes center stage again on Friday with matchday 20 of the 2020/21 season.

Both Real Madrid and Barcelona will be looking to bounce back after poor performances and cup upsets – but it is Atletico Madrid that still leads the way before its game against Valencia on Sunday.

As usual, I’ll be taking a look at all ten La Liga games taking place over the weekend – and picking out three potential bets to consider for matchday 20.

Levante and Valladolid to Draw

Both these sides finished up playing out 2-2 draws in the week at a time when three points are desperately needed from any game they play. Levante did well to play its part in a thrilling first half in Cadiz where all four goals were scored before the halftime whistle blew. Roger Marti scored both in that game and will be hungry for more on Friday.

Valladolid will be trying not to give Levante a head start as it did for Elche on Tuesday. Two goals down at the break, Sergio Gonzalez’s side fought back well in the second half and might have even won the game with a little more luck. As it was an 89th-minute equalizer from Joaquin earned the point that keeps Valladolid just above the drop zone.

Villarreal to Beat Huesca

Huesca started its first game under new manager Pacheta well on Wednesday but was unable to find a way past the Getafe keeper – and paid for that later as it came away from Madrid with nothing. It was the fourth straight defeat for the bottom-placed club, and the worst goal scoring record in La Liga suggests that it won’t be around next season.

Villarreal missed its own goal scorer, Gerard Moreno, for its midweek game against Granada but still played its part in a four-goal thriller. After coming back from a goal down, it had looked as though the Yellow Submarine might steal the points right at the end when it was awarded a controversial penalty. The Granada keeper did his job, though – and Unai Emery’s side had to make do with a point. This should be an easier game on Saturday, though.

Sevilla to Beat Cadiz

Sevilla had its keeper to thank for the points in midweek as it overcame Alaves. Bono saved an injury-time penalty to earn all three points with a 2-1 win. Youssef En-Nesyri scored once again to help Sevilla on the way, and Julen Lopetegui’s side will feel very confident of beating near neighbors Cadiz on Saturday.

The club, even further south than Seville, fought out an exhilarating first half of its own on Tuesday, opening the scoring after just four minutes of his game against Valladolid – and being 2-1 after only eleven. A share of the spoils was probably just about fair in the end – and manager Alvaro Cervera should still be very happy with the way his team has fared in the top flight this season.

Real Sociedad and Real Betis to Draw

La Real has not played a La Liga game for just over two weeks now, thanks to cup commitments, and head coach Imanol will be hoping that he can inspire his team to victory after a steep decline in form over the last month or so. After an excellent start to the season, Real Sociedad has won just once in the last nine La Liga games and is desperate to recapture that early season form.

But it meets a Real Betis side that has steadily improved this season and was able to withstand heavy pressure from Celta Vigo on Wednesday to finish 2-1 winners. Sergio Canales scored both goals before half time but should be very grateful to Nabil Fekir, who set both up and looked very good throughout. If those two team up as well at the weekend, Real Sociedad will have a fight on its hands.

Real Madrid to Beat Alaves

Zinedine Zidane was dealing with the media asking if he feared for his job after the shock cup defeat to third-tier Alcoyano on Wednesday. It didn’t help that Los Blancos only had to play against ten men for the last ten minutes of extra time – and still lost – but any talk of a crisis seems massively overblown. A straightforward win at the weekend should sort all that out.

Alaves had to put up with a wonder strike from Sevilla’s Suso and a missed stoppage-time penalty of its own in its defeat in the week and must be thinking that luck just isn’t on its side at the moment. That made it three defeats in a row for the club and the first for new manager Abelardo. He has a big job on his hands to get anything from this one.

Granada to Beat Osasuna

Roberto Soldado has not found the net enough for Granada this season, but he opened the scoring against Villarreal in the week in a game that was full of excitement, goals, and controversy. Kenedy scored an absolute cracker to draw Granada level before Paco Alcacer missed a last-minute penalty for the host. This one might not be as enthralling – but it should end in a win for Granada.

Osasuna went to the Mestalla on Thursday and managed to come away with a point. But manager Jagoba Arrsate could have done without his team scoring the second-half own goal that enabled Valencia to equalize. Life is tough enough at the bottom, and the Pamplona club has now drawn five of its last six. It will do well to manage even that against Granada.

Barcelona to Beat Elche

How Elche manager Jorge Almiron must dream of having to deal with the ‘crisis’ that Ronald Koeman is going through at the moment. Elche has not won a game since the end of October and had the points snatched away from it on Tuesday when it conceded an 89th-minute equalizer away at Valladolid. The visit of Barcelona does not promise much.

Barca will be without Lionel Messi, though. He was sent off for the first time in his Barcelona career in the Supercopa de Espana final defeat to Athletic. Although he has been nowhere near his best this season – and nothing like happy – he is still La Liga’s top goal scorer going into this round of games. There is still a fair bit of talent in the Barca squad, though, so the points should be safe.

Celta Vigo to Beat Eibar

Celta Vigo has played valiantly without Iago Aspas in the last few weeks but is really missing its captain and main goal scorer because of injury. There was a very good team performance against Real Betis in the week, but it ended in a third consecutive defeat. A win against Eibar is needed now.

Eibar was devastated to concede a last-minute penalty at home to Atletico Madrid on Thursday, and the Basque club will now be hoping that it can hold on a little longer in the games ahead. Jose Luis Mendilibar’s side has failed to put together a good run of results at any time at all this season so far and might be in for further misery at the weekend.

Atletico Madrid to Beat Valencia

Atletico faced a determined Eibar side on Thursday and had to rely on goal machine Luis Suarez to score the last-minute penalty that saw it go seven points ahead at the top of the table, with a game in hand over Real Madrid. That win was the sixth in a row for Diego Simeone’s side. He should be even happier with the result on Sunday.

Javi Gracia would love the idea of the job security that Diego Simeone enjoys – but should probably just be grateful that he is still the main man at Valencia considering results this season. His side needed an own goal to snatch a point at home to lowly Osasuna on Thursday, and even he will know that getting anything from the trip to the Wanda Metropolitano is a real long shot.

Athletic Club to Beat Getafe

If Athletic can win this fixture, a lot will depend on how it responds to the famous Supercopa de Espana triumph at the start of the week. I assume the players will be professional enough to have stopped celebrating by now, so that win should act as a platform to be even more successful for the remainder of the season in the league. Three points here would be a good start.

Getafe, on the other hand, has quietly got on with doing its job, as ever. The narrow victory over Huesca on Wednesday saw the Madrid club climb back into the top half of the league, and it looks as though it will be another relatively successful campaign. Any hopes of European qualification again should probably be discounted, but it should be fine again this year.

My Top La Liga Picks for January 22-25, 2021

Here are my three betting picks for this week’s La Liga games on matchday 19. Odds are courtesy of Betway.

  • Levante and Valladolid to draw – 3.00
  • Real Sociedad and Real Betis to draw – 3.80
  • Celta Vigo to beat Eibar – 2.05

Valladolid was a little unlucky to only come away with a draw from its game at home against Elche in the week, and I feel as though there is enough determination to push Levante all the way on Friday, as long as it can score a few goals again.

The bookmakers think that Real Sociedad isn’t quite done this season. But although I agree that La Real still has a part to play in La Liga this year, I also think that the Sergio Canales/Nabil Fekir double act at Betis is well worth watching too. They will be enough to earn a point on Saturday. 

Celta Vigo misses the goals and inspiration of its talismanic captain Iago Aspas but was desperately unlucky not to take at least a point from Real Betis on Wednesday. Eibar should not put up quite as much of a fight as it did against Atletico in the week – and I fancy the Galician club to win a first league game in four at this weekend.

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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