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La Liga Overview Week 25
The top five all winning and only two of the top 12 losing at all, coupled with seven of the bottom eight all being defeated and it appears the status quo in Spain has been restored. Osasuna were the sole winners from the bottom half of the table to move them five points above the relegation zone as time runs out for the bottom three.
Barcelona are still 12 points ahead of Atletico and four more ahead of Real Madrid whom they face twice in the next week in both the league and Copa del Rey, after the visit of Seville this weekend, Barca have a 2-0 deficit to make up in the Champions League against AC Milan in three weeks time on the 12th March and so all of a sudden their season, for all it's record breaking stats from Messi and Co. comes down to the next three weeks and a handful of games. They could be out of both cups and have the gap in the league reduced with both Madrid clubs still to be faced in La Liga as the difference between greatness and just good is what Barcelona are playing for. Or is it against?
The very real race for the fourth Champions League spot and two Europa League places is where the most compelling action is, with eight points only covering fourth thru to Levante in ninth, and with relegation threatened teams looking to fight for safety there could yet be a few stings in a few tails with 14 games left to play!
Week 25 kicks off with a 'Friday Night Lights' Basque Derby and ends in Valencia at Levante's Estadio La Cruz Monday evening, as I cover all of this weeks La Liga games with my Free Picks, Tips and Predictions from all ten match-ups.
Friday 22nd February 2013
Athletic Bilbao vs. Real Sociedad
Athletic Bilbao won 3-0 at home to Atletico Madrid four weeks ago but have not built on that result at all, losing two of the next three, drawing the other. They have won just once more in their last ten, losing five and drawing three in that time and are just six points and three places above the relegation zone. With 14 games left of the season there is no more time left to wait for fortunes to change, Bilbao need a result now! The bookies have them as slight favourites to win this local derby at 5/4 with bet365 though with no goals in three of their last four and the last two I am not leaning with them in this one. Real Sociedad are Bilbao's fiercest Basque rivals and their season could not be in starker contrast to their neighbours. They sit in sixth place in a Europa League spot and have lost just once in their last 12 games, winning five and drawing six. They were the first side to beat Barcelona this season in La Liga, beating them 3-2 from 2-0 down to prove they are the real deal this season. They are 21/10 to make it six wins in thirteen with bet365. The draw at 12/5 is of little use to either teams ambitions.
Away win for me at 9/4 and a correct score prediction of 2-0 at 16/1 with William Hill
Saturday 23rd February 2013
Mallorca vs. Getafe
This is a must win for second bottom Mallorca as they have no more room for manoeuvre having lost five of their last six. Getafe are in mid table mediocrity with little chance of troubling those above them with their erratic and inconsistent form. They are unbeaten at home in nine but have suffered heavy losses, conceding 20 goals in their last five away defeats! The visitors are 12/5 to inflict more misery on the islanders who are 6/5 to grab a vital win with bet365. The draw at 11/5 is simply not good enough for them now if they want to survive, nor a repeat of the 1-0 defeat in the corresponding fixture back in early October, which you can have for 9/1 with bet365. Getafe would happily settle for a point after their recent run of away results and I think they will get something from the early game Saturday afternoon.
Score draw for me at 11/5 and a correct score prediction of 1-1 at 5/1 with bet365
Real Zaragoza vs. Valencia
A crucial game for both sides but for very different reasons with fifth visiting fourth from bottom. Valencia are still in the Champions League but face a tough 2-1 deficit away to PSG in two weeks. They are one place from qualifying for the same competition again and sit in a Europa League place anyway but will undoubtedly want to taste competition in the more prestigious of the two again. And then there is the small subject of the huge difference in money between the two in terms of revenue from TV, so it makes good business sense too! Zaragoza have won just once in ten outings, losing six of them including the last two and I cannot see them doing anything other than adding to that sorry stat this weekend. The loss to Osasuna last weekend was a crushing one made even worse as they were above them going into that match. They have failed to score at home in two of the last three.
Away win for me at 7/5 and a correct score prediction of 3-0 at 22/1 with William Hill
Deportivo La Coruña vs. Real Madrid
To save time, just copy and paste the preview from above inserting the names of the two 'new' clubs and you pretty much have this game in a nutshell too. Add the fact that Real Madrid are even better than Valencia are and that bottom of the league basement boys Deportivo are most certainly worse than even Zaragoza and there is little left to say for this match-up. The odds of 15/2 for a home win against 1/3 a Madrid victory should tell you the rest and I am here to tell you not to go against the bookies with this one. The draw at 4/1 as unlikely as the 'Special One' still being Madrid boss next season! Real may be somewhat distracted by their two upcoming 'El Classico' encounters with Barcelona next week and weekend, and they do have the small matter of a game at Old Trafford to think about too in a couple of weeks, but even with all that and the unrest surrounding the future of Jose Muorinho (he's going, get over it!) they will have little problem in compounding La Coruna's miserable season.
Away win for me at 1/3 and a 3-0 correct score prediction at 9/1 with bet365
Barcelona vs. Sevilla
Score draw for me at 6/1 and a correct score prediction of 2-2 at 20/1 with bet365
Get the full picks and predictions on this match here~
Sunday 24th February 2013
Rayo Vallecano vs. Real Valladolid
Seventh hosts 13th as Vallecano look to move into the top six and a European spot, with fourth and a Champions League place only five points away. Incredibly Rayo have drawn just one game in the league all season long, so 11/5 to make it twice is not where my money is going in this one! They have won six of their last ten including a run of four straight victories. They were thumped 6-1 by Valladolid back in September but the fortunes of the two sides have gone in opposite directions since then and Real have not won in four games losing and drawing two apiece. Both sides have faced Atletico Madrid these last two weeks, Rayo won 2-1 at home whilst Real Valladolid lost 3-0 at their Estadio Nuevo José Zorrilla.
Home win for me at 3/4 with bet365 and a correct score prediction of 2-0 at 15/2 with bet365
Celta Vigo vs. Granada
A win here for Celta Vigo would be huge and could lift them out of the bottom three if other results go their way. Espanyol have proved that anything is possible with their climb up the table to safety and with Granada sitting just six points and four places above Celta this is a must win six pointer for them. Only two sides have won less games than Celta this season and guess where they are both sitting in the league table. Draws are not enough for these teams anymore and as Neil Warnock once said 'there is more value in winning one and losing one than drawing two in a row'. There are more points too! Celta Vigo last won eight games ago, losing five of seven since then and their last three in a row. Granada have won two of their last three including beating Real Madrid 1-0 and are 7/2 with bet365 to make it four on the bounce whilst Celta are 5/6 to halt the run and grab a vital three points. Honours even are at 12/5.
Away win for me at 17/5 with William Hill and a correct score prediction of 2-1 at 14/1
Atletico Madrid vs. Espanyol
Home win for me at 4/11 with bet365 and a correct score prediction of 2-1 at 7/1.
For a full preview of this Atletico Madrid vs Espanyol game click here.
Real Betis vs. Malaga
Away win for me at 9/5 and Roque Santa Cruz to score and Malaga to win at 5/1 with William Hill
For a full preview of this game by regular contributing writer Mike Richardson and all his free odds, picks and predictions on this match, simply go to the soccer page at SBRForum or click here for his views and opinion as to where the best value lies in this game for all our bettors.
Monday 25th February, 2013
Levante vs. Osasuna
Levante are still in Europe and could actually be the sole Spanish representative in European competition by the time they face Rubin Kazan come March 7th as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Valencia are all behind in their Champions League ties and Atletico out of the Europa League. Facing fifth from Bottom Osasuna they must fancy their chances of getting back into the race for a European spot but as I have stated earlier in this article, there are several teams all within touching distance of each other who have the same goal. Osasuna have not lost in three and just once their last six, that to Barcelona in a 5-1 mauling, as they try to stay four points above the dreaded 17th position. Levante will know they have a good chance to beat Rubin Kazan over two legs in the next round but must not lose focus in the league where they have faltered in recent weeks, losing four of six and winning just once. I can see the visitors getting something from this one against a tired Valencian team.
Score draw for me at 21/20 and a correct score prediction of 1-1 at 6/1 with William Hill