La Liga Predictions and Best Bets – January 8-11, 2021
After an unfamiliar start to the season, things are calming down a little in La Liga and almost getting back to normal. Atletico may still be top of the league, but Real is in second, with Barcelona now up to third.
Barca’s results may have improved, but it still lacks the killer touch that has made it one of the best teams in the world over the last 20 years. It will be interesting to see whether Luis Suarez’s can continue to keep Atleti at the summit as the season goes on.
There is another full set of fixtures this weekend – with the final game in matchday 18 coming on Monday. As ever, I will be looking at all ten games and picking out three of the best bets to consider.
Villarreal to Beat Celta Vigo
The improvement of Celta Vigo since Eduardo Coudet took over has been one of the main talking points of the La Liga season so far. But the next few weeks are going to be tough for the Galician club. Iago Aspas is set to be out for about a month after limping off during the Real Madrid game last week with a thigh injury. Nolito will also be absent for the visit of Villarreal – and that could be enough to swing this game.
It wasn’t quite plain sailing for the Yellow Submarine at home to Levante, but a win is a win, and Villarreal was able to keep in touch with the top four after the defeat to Sevilla at the end of December. Now Unai Emery is able to face a Celta Vigo side missing its talismanic leader. Three points here could even take the club into the Champions League spots again.
Sevilla to Beat Real Sociedad
It ended with honors even in the Seville derby last weekend, but it is Sevilla that will feel as though it was a point won after Real Betis missed a glorious chance to win the match when Fekir had his second-half penalty saved. The game was much different without the passion of the fans, but Sevilla will gladly take a point and now look to make it six games unbeaten ahead of the clash with Atletico next week.
It is not as though Real Sociedad has been found out. But the Basque club is probably finding a truer position in the league now, after leading the way earlier in the season. That’s not to say that the draw with Osasuna last weekend wasn’t a disappointment, though. The Pamplona team battled throughout and deserved the draw. La Real remains in the top four – for now.
Atletico Madrid to Beat Athletic Club
Picking up Luis Suarez on a free transfer – with his wages fully paid up by Barcelona – has to be the deal of the summer in Spain, as he has been instrumental in helping Atletico lead the way in La Liga. He could do nothing about the shock cup defeat in the week, as Diego Simeone tested some of the squad’s fringe players. That test was evidently failed, but his team can now concentrate on remaining at the top of the league. Three points at home to Athletic will keep the Madrid side there for the time being.
It will be a baptism of fire for new Athletic boss Marcelino. His first game since taking over from the ousted Gaizka Garitano was against Barcelona on Wednesday when he saw his side narrowly lose 3-2. Next up is Atletico on Saturday, before Real Madrid in the semifinal of the Supercopa de Espana on Thursday. Athletic may not win any of those games – but Marcelino will be judged on what comes next.
Barcelona to Beat Granada
When Inaki Williams scored in the third minute of the game between Athletic and Barcelona on Wednesday, it looked like Ronald Koeman’s problems were going to continue. But his side came back well with a fine performance from Lionel Messi – who scored two and should have had a hat-trick. Youngster Pedri scored the other, and even a last-minute goal from the hosts could not alter the result. That’s seven games unbeaten for Barca now.
Granada will be the ones trying to end that streak on Saturday, but results have not been anywhere near as consistent for the Andalusia club. Diego Martinez’s side enjoyed plenty of chances against Eibar at the weekend but just couldn’t get the ball into the net – eventually losing 2-0 for its second loss in three games. There will be better days ahead, but now might not be the best time to face an improving Barcelona.
Real Madrid to Beat Osasuna
Real Madrid saw off the potential threat of a much-improved Celta Vigo side at the weekend and actually ended up winning quite comfortably. Zinedine Zidane’s side made the most of Aspas going off injured but was the best team throughout, in all honesty. Sergio Ramos was absent for that one – and there will be some concern over his refusal of a contract offer by Real. Nothing should stop Los Blancos from winning on Saturday, though.
Osasuna looked a much better team in its draw with Real Sociedad last weekend. But the point earned in that game couldn’t help the club climb out of the bottom three. A probable loss to Real Madrid here could see the Pamplona club drop down to the lowest point in La Liga once again. But Jagoba Arrasate will take some comfort from the three successive draws his team has managed now – even if it is unlikely that there will be a fourth.
Levante and Eibar to Draw
Levante could not overcome Villarreal in the Valencian derby last week and will look to the defensive errors that allowed Moreno to score his side’s second goal in that game. That ended up being the winner, but Levante did come into the game after – and possibly could have earned a point if it had taken its chances. There have been some good results lately, though, so confidence will be high.
But Eibar’s players will be feeling much the same after its win over Granada followed the 1-1 draw with Barcelona in the Camp Nou. A focus on defense has tended to work for the Basque club this season, but the two goals from Bryan Gil in the win over Granada at the weekend suggest that manager Jose Luis Mendilibar might have an extra attacking option as well. A draw away from home on Sunday should be regarded as a good point.
Cadiz and Alaves to Draw
It continues to be a good season for Cadiz, but there was a feeling that it should have beaten a struggling Valencia last weekend. It had to make do with a draw – which isn’t too bad away from home – but there has been just one win in the last nine games now. Some more points in the next month or so would stop any anxiety creeping in at the club.
There should be a point for the southern club on Sunday, as it faces an Alaves team that is finding victories just about as difficult to come by this season. It almost snatched a point from league leaders Atletico Madrid last week, though, scoring an 84th-minute equalizer after playing with ten men for the last half hour of the game. But a stoppage-time winner from Luis Suarez broke Alaves’ hearts and kept the club in the bottom half of the table.
Elche and Getafe to Draw
This fixture brings together two sides that have won just one game between them since the beginning of November – a run that has seen both clubs tumble down the La Liga table. Elche did manage that positive draw with Real Madrid just before New Year, but there has been little else to celebrate recently. The defeat at the hands of Athletic last weekend was fairly comprehensive, and it is difficult to see where the next win will come from at the moment.
That is the same case for Getafe as well, though. The Madrid side had enough chances in its home game against Valladolid last Saturday but never really looked like scoring against another team that had been struggling. Getafe may have a better defensive record than the teams surrounding at the bottom of the table, but it has also scored the fewest goals of anyone in the league. Some more battling displays will be needed soon from Jose Bordalas’ men.
Valladolid to Beat Valencia
That narrow victory for Valladolid over Getafe was only the fourth in the league this season, but it could signal a change in fortune for the club. It needed extra time to beat Marbella in the Copa del Rey in the week, but there are signs that things are looking up. Valladolid didn’t win a single game in its first eight league games of the season, so there is an element of catching up at the moment.
Valencia’s form has taken a completely different path to Valladolid’s. There were a couple of impressive wins at the start of the season – but only once since the end of September. But even that shock 4-1 thrashing of Real Madrid was two months ago now. Javi Gracia’s side came from behind to earn a point at home against Cadiz on Monday, but time could be running out for the manager.
Real Betis to Beat Huesca
There was a heroic performance from the Huesca defense – and keeper Alvaro Fernandez in particular – against Barcelona last week, but a solitary goal from Frenkie De Jong took the points back to Catalonia. The result left Huesca at the bottom of the table and looking to be in a lot of trouble for all its attractive play this season. There have been some very good draws – but just one win in 17 games suggests it will be a brief visit to La Liga for Michel’s team.
Betis took command of the Seville derby last week but was unable to find the net before Suso scored for bitter rivals Sevilla just after half time. Sergio Canales did manage to equalize from the spot just three minutes later, but it was Nabil Fekir’s missed penalty with a quarter of an hour still to play that meant the game would end all square. It was a good performance from Manuel Pellegrini’s side, though – and a win on Monday should be easier to come by.
My Top La Liga Picks for January 8-11, 2020
Here are my three betting picks for this weekend’s La Liga games on matchday 18. Odds are courtesy of Betway.
- Levante and Eibar to draw – 3.40
- Valladolid to beat Valencia – 2.40
- Real Betis to beat Huesca – 2.50
Levante and Eibar look to be two very similar teams that will both likely finish up around the same position in the middle of the table this season. Eibar’s defense is a little stronger, but I think a point each on Sunday will be the fairest result.
Valencia, on the other hand, looks to be in real trouble – and Javi Gracia doesn’t seem to be able to get his side to even look like winning at the moment. A revitalized Valladolid could continue the misery this weekend.
My final pick this week is for Betis to come away from Huesca with all three points in the Monday game. Manuel Pellegrini’s team is nothing if not inconsistent but should be able to beat the bottom-placed club – as long as Fekir is kept away from penalty duties.