La Liga Predictions and Best Bets – March 12-15, 2021
There were a lot of interesting results in La Liga last weekend but the main story was the Madrid derby. Atletico was just minutes away from beating its bitter rival and possibly putting one hand on the trophy when Benzema scored for Real. That result keeps the title race wide open – and pleased Barcelona fans the most.
A series of surprise results at the foot of the table continued to make the relegation battle just as interesting. With just 12 games left for most clubs, a whole host of struggling teams picked up victories to show that nothing has been decided at either end of the league table quite yet.
Levante and Valencia meet in the derby on Friday to kick things off on match day 27 – and I’ll be taking a look at all ten games over the weekend, as well as picking out three of the best bets to consider.
Levante to Beat Valencia
Levante lost 1-0 to Real Sociedad last week but the main question of the day was how did the game not end in a thrashing for Paco Lopez’s side? Levante had very few chances and was saved on more than one occasion by keeper Dani Cardenas. In the end it was a narrow defeat and now the players can concentrate on getting one over their local rivals on Friday.
Los Che scored both their goals in the final four minutes but also had its goalkeeper to thank for keeping it in the game for so long. That win was a huge confidence boost, as well as providing daylight between the club and the relegation scrap at the bottom. Valencia might be about to lose local bragging rights though.
Alaves and Cadiz to Draw
Alaves threw away a great chance to climb out of the bottom three last weekend as it blew a two-goal lead away at Betis. The two first half goals looked like giving Abelardo just his second win as head coach, but a penalty and two very good headers from the home side continued the misery for Alaves. This will be another huge game on Saturday now.
Cadiz won its own relegation six pointer on Saturday as it beat Eibar by a single goal, after both sides had had strikes disallowed. It was Alvaro Negredo who, once again, came to Cadiz’s rescue, scoring with a strong header just before the halftime break. He will probably be the main threat again this weekend and could be the difference between a defeat and a draw.
Real Madrid to Beat Elche
Real Madrid made no further ground on Atletico last weekend, but the draw at the Wanda Metropolitano seemed to serve as a psychological advantage to Los Blancos as we enter the final stretch of the title race. There have been two drawn games in a row for Real now, but Atleti and Barca must be getting that familiar feeling that the champions are getting ready to strike. Three more points against a poor Elche side should be a very straightforward day’s work.
There was a late scare as the visitors scored in the final minute – and then had another good chance before the end whistle – but Elche held on for the win. That saw the club climb out of the bottom three for the first time this year. But this weekend’s game will be much tougher.
Osasuna to Beat Valladolid
Osasuna predictably lost to a resurgent Barcelona last weekend but took the game to the Catalans throughout – and might have even been good enough for a draw. The Pamplona club has steadily improved since the start of the year and is now looking like it will enjoy a comfortable mid table finish. Another win at home on Saturday would consolidate that.
Valladolid actually comes into this one on the back of a rare win. The victory over Getafe was the first time Sergio Gonzalez’s side had celebrate winning three points since the last time it played Getafe at the start of the year. The result was never really in doubt and could work as a much-needed boost. The bottom of the table is very congested but Valladolid is three points clear of the drop zone now.
Atletico Madrid to Beat Getafe
After the surprising 3-0 win over Valencia the week before, Getafe got back to normality with a disappointing loss against fellow struggler Valladolid on Saturday – and played the last five minutes with ten men after a stupid red card for Jaime Mata. The striker will now miss this game against the league leaders – but it is the Getafe defense that is likely to be the busiest this Saturday.
It is the second Madrid derby in a row for Atleti, but Diego Simeone will be much more confident of winning three points from this one. The late equalizer from Real last weekend seemed inevitable and Simeone will need to make sure that his players are not falling into line with the rest of the Spanish public and media who are suddenly questioning Atletico’s nerves at the top of the league.
Celta Vigo to Beat Athletic Club
Celta Vigo played out a very entertaining 4-3 thriller last weekend as it overcame a stubborn Huesca away from home. More surprising was the fact that Iago Aspas had very little to do with the victory. He did manage one assist but the rest of Eduardo Coupet’s side stepped up, for once, to ensure that the points went back to Galicia. If they can repeat the trick on Sunday, then the dream of European qualification might even be back on.
Athletic also has ambitions of continental competition next season but was stung by an Atletico Madrid comeback in the week as it went down 2-1 at the Wanda Metropolitano. The Basque club had managed to snatch a win against Granada last weekend thanks to a stoppage time winner from Alex Berenguer. But there is a nine point gap between Athletic and the Europa Conference spot now, so whoever loses this can probably say goodbye to any hopes of qualification.
Real Sociedad to Beat Granada
It has been a tough few weeks for Granada. The win against struggling Elche was welcome but the defeat to Athletic Club in the San Mames last weekend means that Diego Martinez’s side has only managed two victories in 2021. As European qualification dreams fade, this season may well end up fizzling out. But, after all the problems the club has had during the pandemic, just finishing in mid table should probably be regarded as an achievement.
The Basque club has enjoyed a very good season and is now looking like it is getting its second wind at exactly the right time. It is incredible how La Real only beat Levante by a single goal on Sunday, after completely dominating the game throughout. In the end it was just the Mikel Merino goal that won the points – but that keeps the pressure on the top four.
Villarreal to Beat Eibar
Eibar’s woes continued with a 1-0 defeat away at Cadiz last weekend – and things were not helped by a penalty miss by keeper Marko Dmitrovic with just over half an hour to go. The Serbian keeper has actually scored from the spot this season already, but that defeat keeps the winless streak going from the start of the year and plunges the Basque club into deeper trouble at the bottom of the league.
Villarreal is hardly enjoying itself at the moment, but this fixture might be the perfect opportunity for Unai Emery’s side to get things back on track as it attempts to qualify for Europe again this season. The defeat to Valencia in the local derby was disappointing, especially since Gerard Moreno had given the Yellow Submarine the lead – but also because Valencia scored both its goals in the final minutes of the game. Three points on Sunday seems vital now.
Real Betis to Beat Sevilla
This is a huge Seville derby on Sunday, with Betis looking the much better side at the moment. Sevilla has spent much of the second half of the season in the top four but has started to falter recently and lost again on Saturday to an Elche side that was in the bottom three before the game. Only a 90th minute Luuk De Jong goal gave the scoreline any respectability as Sevilla failed to wake up for the majority of the game. After crashing out of the Champions League in the week, a defeat to its bitter local rivals is the last thing Sevilla needs.
There has actually only been one defeat this calendar year and Manuel Pellegrini’s side has climbed from mid table to the cusp of a Champions League place. Betis was a little lucky last weekend to keep that run going, coming from two goals down to beat Alaves with two goals of its own in the ten minutes. Club legend Joaquin scored the winner and it would not be a surprise if he came off the bench to beat Sevilla this Sunday.
Barcelona to Beat Huesca
It has been a mixed week for Barcelona. Last weekend saw the election of Joan Laporta as club president and a draw between the two big Madrid clubs – a result that benefitted Barca the most. But then PSG completed the formalities in the Champions League to knock the Catalan club out of Europe at a very early stage. Now Lionel Messi needs to raise this team to take on the quest of overcoming Atleti (and Real) at the top of La Liga and finish off this season on an unexpected high.
Huesca should not pose too much problem on Monday. The bottom of the league side did only lose 1-0 at home to Barca earlier in the season – and there has been a definite improvement since Pacheta took over as head coach in January – but getting anything at the Camp Nou is a long shot. Allowing Celta Vigo to take all three points in a seven-goal thriller last week could have a psychological effect as well.
My Top La Liga Picks for March 12-15, 2021
Here are my three betting picks for this week’s La Liga games on match day 27. Odds are courtesy of Betway.
- Alaves and Cadiz to draw – 3.10
- Celta Vigo to beat Athletic Club – 2.50
- Real Betis to beat Sevilla – 3.75
My first pick this weekend is for Alaves to earn a much-needed point from its game with Cadiz. The Basque club has been largely terrible this season – and hasn’t really improved since Abelardo took over as head coach. But the first half of its game against Betis on Monday showed there was still some spirit left – and that should be enough against Cadiz at home for a point.
Celta Vigo is all about determination and spirit, but usually has to depend on talismanic leader Iago Aspas for goals and points. The fact that he was not as needed in a big win last weekend suggests that there is more to the team. Athletic played in the week and might find that fatigue kicks in on Sunday, much to Galician delight.
My final pick is for Betis to overcome local rivals Sevilla in the late game on Sunday. This could be the best game of the weekend in La Liga and it is definitely Betis that goes into the game on a high. With Sevilla’s season beginning to look a little shaky, nothing would make Betis fans happier than for their side to snatch away a Champions League spot from their hated rival.