La Liga Predictions and Odds Week 18...
This weekend sees the return to action in La Liga after the two week festive break, as we take a quick look at how things ended up at the end of week 17 and 2012 and look forward to week 18 and the resumption of the race for the Spanish League title.
Well, the top two secured wins to ease into the Christmas period last time out, Barcelona beating Valladolid 3-1 and Atletico Madrid leaving it late to beat Celta Vigo in a hard fought encounter that means they have still won every home game this season in the league. Real Madrid are now seven points behind their city rivals and a whopping 16 points adrift of Barcelona after losing 3-2 to fourth placed Malaga, who sit only two points behind them with that win. Levante and Real Betis both failed to capitalize on this and also close on Madrid, losing to Vallecano, who move 8th, and Mallorca respectively. Real Sociedad remain above them in seventh and Valencia's 4-2 triumph over Getafe sees them leapfrog their opponents into 9th to round out the top half of the table.
At the bottom, Espanyol went into the break undefeated and off the bottom having put Deportivo there instead by beating them 2-0. Bilbao lost at home to Real Zaragoza 2-0 and drop one place behind them into 'unlucky' 13th but as I said in my last report of 2012, the bottom six are being cut adrift from the rest of the table now with only four points separating all of them, though Sevilla are only three points ahead of that pack in 14th place as they lost 2-1 in Sociedad. Granada and Mallorca both won away from home to move out of the bottom three and close that gap too.
So, to the first round of games in 2013 as we bring you all our odds, picks and predictions for La Liga, starting this Friday night in Zaragoza with their curtain raiser to the second half of the season against Real Betis.
Friday 4th January 2013
Real Zaragoza vs. Real Betis
A win for Zaragoza would put them only three points behind Betis in the table and if other results go their way, propel them into the top half also. Betis lost at home to lowly Mallorca last time out and looked weary and in need of the break whilst Real will be hoping their momentum building win at Bilbao hasn't been lost amongst all the partying and cold turkey. Like so many games this weekend after the break, it is so much about who hits the ground running and doesn't let the holiday hangover become a factor and with things so tight in the middle of the table, this game could define the rest of the season for teams like Zaragoza. Win and Europe is a faint hope, lose and relegation is a real threat.
Tip: Home win for me at 13/10 with William Hill
Saturday 5th January 2013
Levante vs. Athletic Bilbao
Much like the preview above, the difference between winning and losing when in the middle of this league can be huge. A win will put Bilbao three points behind their opponents and into the top half and a win for Levante means ending the day no worse than sixth place. A loss for either means dropping back into the pack and for Bilbao the relegation places then start to loom a little larger too. Like I said, it's all about shaking off the cobwebs first and getting a firm grip on the game early. Both of these two lost last time out and will have enjoyed the break to recharge and re-focus on their goals. Season long form and home advantage should be plenty for Levante in this game as they look to continue to push for a European spot.
Tip: Home win for me at 6/5 with William Hill
Granada vs. Valencia
Granada won last game of 2012 to ease their relegation worries ever so slightly but come up against a Valencia team who are headed in the right direction in the table and scored four last time out when beating Getafe, to move into the top half of the standings. Granada are at home but that has hardly been a fortress this season so far and Valencia have done well on their travels so I am leaning towards a Valencia win in this one.
Away win for me at 23/20
Deportivo vs. Malaga
Bottom of the league Deportivo will have to pull something dramatic from the fire to either get anything from this game or their season. Beaten by the then bottom club Espanyol 2-0 last time out, La Coruna are in serious trouble. Malaga on the other hand will be in buoyant mood after beating the Champions Real Madrid 3-2 to end 2012 on a very high note. I do not see this game being anything other than another nail in Deportivo's coffin as they will be in the bottom three all season long for me.
Tip:Away win at 6/5 with bet365
Sevilla vs. Osasuna
Sevilla are a good side who seem to make a lot of silly mistakes and should be better placed in the league for me but as much as this is an entertainment business, deals in human error and brilliance all at once, it is still quite simply a results business first and foremost. Rightly or wrongly that is how it is. Sevilla will be one of those sides I have mentioned who will be looking at moving into the top half with a couple of good wins against opposition below them, thus easing their own relegation fears at the same time. Osasuna are second bottom and I expect them to stay there when both this and my prediction above both prove correct and should be considered two bankers by any of you wanting to bet a four game or more parlay.
Tip: Home win for me at 8/13 with bet365
Sunday 6th January 2013
Celta Vigo vs. Real Valladolid
Celta Vigo kick off Sunday's fixtures having run Atletico Madrid close in the capital last time out, narrowly losing 1-0, acquitting themselves well to give some hope to the fourth from bottom side. Valladolid were beaten by champions elect Barcelona 3-1 and also played quite well in what amounts to an exercise in damage limitation these days it seems! Again, it is simply who starts well and quickest and with purpose after two weeks off. Who wants it more, simple as that as a win for Vigo will put them just four points behind their opponents and stretch the gap to the bottom three, who as you will see, will all lose this weekend.
Tip: Score draw for me at 12/5 and 1-1 correct score prediction at 6/1 both with William Hill
Real Madrid vs. Real Sociedad
Real could be in real trouble if they don't start to reel in the two above them. Not sure if it is worse for them to be the 16 points behind Barca, who are out of sight in terms of most things this season, unless you are Celtic, or to be seven adrift of city rivals Atleti, which there is probably more shame in, especially amongst the fans. I think the rest and break came at a great time for Madrid, we will see. Real Sociedad are no mugs and are having a great season so far and improving all the time with barely a backward step since they last lost in week 10. That's five wins and two draws in the last seven league games and they are going into this as most clubs do when entering the Bernabeu, with nothing to lose. I am actually predicting a continued hangover from both the Malaga defeat and the Christmas break for Madrid and can see another upset for Mourinho's side. Not sure if Sociedad can grab all three points then the 6/1 with bet365 for the draw, any draw, represents great value but I am going to stick my head out the whole way with this one.
Tip: Away win for me at 12/1 with bet365
Barcelona vs. Espanyol
The Barcelona Derby doesn't get much press now does it, not when you think of all the furore and tradition and stats conjured up by say the Madrid Derby in La Liga or many other City Derby rivalries across the globe. Maybe it is simply that the Catalans keep their differences more to themselves because there have been 152 of these games, more than any other Spanish local rivalry in La Liga. Or maybe it is because they are mostly one sided and Barca have won 84 of them, drawing as many as they have lost. Espanyol have been on a veritable streak for them, undefeated in two and taking points off Madrid in the capital. Expect it to end here and add as another dead cert for your four game parlay. Some bloke called Messi might score apparently but his odds are little better than those for the win so as I said, for parlay use only.
Tip: Home win for me at 1/11 with bet365
Mallorca vs. Atletico Madrid
Mallorca did win their last game of 2012 but it is a rare victory and fifth from bottom and in real danger tells its own story. Atletico may soon be the only team able to feasibly catch Barca and finishing ahead of city rivals Real should be enough incentive to keep going even if that chase does ultimately prove futile, as seems likely. Falcao not being prised away from them will have a lot to do with whether they maintain their challenge but in this game at least, there should be no problems for the Madrid side.
Tip: Away win for me at 21/20 with William Hill
Monday 7th January 2013
Rayo Vallecano vs. Getafe
The first week of the 2013 half of the season concludes Monday night as eighth plays 10th. Vallecano thumped Levante last time whilst Getafe were thumped, by Valencia 4-2.
Vallecano have won their last two and Getafe have not won in their last three, drawing two. A win for either side guarantees a top ten place for this week at least but I do not see either of these sides breaking into the top six this season, though they may flirt with it. Form has me leaning towards the home side in this one, again it all depends how the break has been negotiated by these teams as the biggest hangover will surely lose!
Tips: Home win for me at 11/8 with bet365