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La Liga BBVA Predictions Matchday 22

The usual suspects are all in the top four places in the league, but Deportivo Alavés and Getafe have been two sides that have displaced the likes of Valencia and Villarreal in the quest for Europa League football next season. At the bottom, there are currently two sides that usually perform better in Celta Vigo and Villarreal who are really finding life difficult in La Liga this term.

February 1, 2019

SD Huesca vs. Real Valladolid

If there has been a team that has looked completely out of its depths at times, it’s Huesca. They only have 12 points from 21 matches and boast the league’s worst defense. Valladolid haven’t been great this season either, but they have been able to get the job done when it has been needed. I think Valladolid get a solid win here and the misery for Huesca continues to mount.

Prediction: SD Huesca 0-1 Real Valladolid

February 2, 2019

Levante vs. Getafe

Prediction: Levante 1-3 Getafe

Real Sociedad vs. Athletic Club

Prediction: Real Sociedad 2-0 Athletic Club

Barcelona vs. Valencia

Prediction: Barcelona 3-0 Valencia

Celta Vigo vs. Sevilla

Prediction: Celta Vigo 0-2 Sevilla

February 3, 2019

Villarreal vs. Espanyol

Prediction: Villarreal 1-2 Espanyol

Real Betis vs. Atlético Madrid

Prediction: Real Betis 0-1 Atlético Madrid

Eibar vs. Girona

Prediction: Eibar 3-3 Girona

Real Madrid vs. Deportivo Alavés

Prediction: Real Madrid 3-1 Deportivo Alavés

February 4, 2019

Rayo Vallecano vs. Leganes

Prediction: Real Vallecano 1-1 Leganes

La Liga BBVA Predictions and Breakdown Matchday 20

La Liga returns after week filled with Copa del Rey clashes, and this weekend should not disappoint with matches. I’m back once again to attempt to make correct predictions, but we’ll see how that goes given my track record.

Let’s start with the predictions.

Getafe vs. Alavés

Getafe come into this match vying to be the third Madrid-based team to secure European football next term. They are currently in a fine run of form as they have only lost once in their last five, and currently sit in sixth which would see them qualify for the Europa League Final Qualifying Round. Alavés are another surprise team this term, and for most of the first three months of the season, occupied a Champions League place. Recently, they have come crashing back to earth, but they also have gotten encouraging results lately which should set this clash up nicely. I foresee an entertaining draw between these two sides who are very similar.

Prediction: Getafe 2-2 Alavés

Real Madrid vs. Sevilla

Real Madrid come into this game rested after their Copa del Rey triumph allowed them to rest key members of their squad with an eye on this match. Things have turned around under caretaker manager Santiago Solari, but this could be his sternest test yet against third-place Sevilla. Sevilla lost their last league game against relegation candidates Athletic Club Bilbao, but have been one of the best sides in Spain this season. They should be worried by their drop in form over their last three league matches, but they will surely be ready to fight for everything against Real Madrid. Sevilla have fared better when this fixture is at home for them which is why I’m taking Real Madrid.

Prediction: Real Madrid 3-1 Sevilla

SD Huesca vs. Atlético Madrid

Huesca find themselves firmly entrenched in the bottom spot of La Liga as they have the worst defense in La Liga. Their recent form has been mixed with a win in their second to last match. Atlético have used their tried and true formula of defensive excellence once again this season, and find themselves perched in second, five behind Barcelona. The one thing Atlético may be wary of is the potential for a draw which they will hope to avoid if they want to remain in the title chase.

Prediction: Atlético Madrid 1-0 SD Huesca

Celta Vigo vs. Valencia

Celta Vigo enter this fixture in alarming form as they have only taken four points out of their last fifteen, and they currently sit one spot above the relegation places. Celta have been effective in scoring goals, but they will have to better at keeping them out if they hope to survive this season in La Liga. Valencia have been inconsistent this year as their squad struggles with the strain of competitions on three fronts. Their form still hasn’t been great, and they are a far cry from the solid team that nicked a Champions League place last term. I foresee a very cagey affair between two sides that desperately need points, but I am going to take the home team in this one.

Prediction: Celta Vigo 2-1 Valencia

Real Betis vs. Girona

Real Betis enter this match following their Copa del Rey triumph where they went through on away goals. The league has been crueler to them lately as they have not won a league game in over a month when they defeated Espanyol 3-1. Girona have been the kings of the draw lately as they have drawn all five of their previous five matches. Coming off of their triumph over Atlético Madrid in the Copa del Rey because of away goals, they may have the confidence needed to get a win. What do I think? A draw.

Prediction: Real Betis 2-2 Girona

Villarreal vs. Athletic Club Bilbao

Villarreal have had a season to forget as they currently languish in 19th place in the league with their only success coming in the Europa League. The only real thing that jumps out has been a series of unfortunate results domestically and an inability to convert draws into wins. Athletic Club recently climbed out of the relegation places, but they have sorely missed Kepa who departed for Chelsea over the summer. They would be in a similar position to Villarreal had they not gotten a crucial victory last weekend, but cannot count themselves as safe yet. These are two nearly identical teams and a draw makes too much sense. I am taking the away side.

Prediction: Athletic Club 2-1 Villarreal

Levante vs. Real Valladolid

Levante enter the match on a negative run of form that has seen them lose two of their last three league games with the other result being a draw. Unlike other teams in the bottom half of the table, Levante has been able to score goals, but they have not been as great at keeping them out. Real Valladolid are a similar story, but their form has been slightly more concerning across all competitions with two draws being their most positive results in their last five matches. Valladolid are slightly better defensively, but would prefer to score more frequently if they hope to pull away from the relegation pack. I see goals in this one with a draw being a fair result.

Prediction: Levante 2-2 Real Valladolid

Rayo Vallecano vs. Real Sociedad

Don’t let the recent positive form fool you into believing that Rayo Vallecano are in a desirable position. They currently sit on 19 points which is good enough for 18th place and has them firmly locked in the relegation battle in La Liga. Real Sociedad find themselves just outside of the European places and only have La Liga to focus on after being knocked out of the Copa del Rey. They should come into this match committed, and will hope to take all three points in order to stay within striking distance of the European places. I see the away side getting a gritty, but needed result.

Prediction: Real Sociedad 2-0 Rayo Vallecano

Barcelona vs. Leganes

Barcelona have had an interesting week after fielding an ineligible player in their Copa del Rey tie against Levante, but were allowed to stay in after it was deemed that the complaint arrived too late. Regardless, they come into the match in peak form and are in the driver’s seat for the La Liga title. Leganes are in a battle to avoid relegation, but have been a solid side all season. Their recent form has been encouraging, but they will have to be at their best in order to topple the leaders of La Liga. The only result is a comfortable win for Barcelona, but I expect some consolation for the visitors.

Prediction: Barcelona 4-1 Leganes

Eibar vs. Espanyol

Eibar’s catastrophic form over their last five matches has seen them plummet into the thick of a relegation scrap. Their numbers indicate that they might be able to survive the drop, but it doesn’t bode well against opposition from the middle of the table. Espanyol have been solid, if unspectacular, in their recent matches and will hope to improve their goal difference with a positive result in this match. I expect Espanyol to emerge victorious in the final match of the La Liga weekend.

Prediction: Espanyol 1-0 Eibar

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La Liga BBVA Breakdown Heading into the Winter Break

Heading into the winter break, the three major Spanish clubs all have a place booked in the Top 4 of La Liga. Barcelona currently have a three point lead over second place Atlético Madrid while Real Madrid are 12 points off the leaders, but have a match in hand. Sevilla occupy third and find themselves five points off the leaders Barcelona.

Two major surprises this term are Alavés and Getafe who find themselves in competition for European places as they currently occupy fifth and seventh, respectively. Conversely, teams like Villarreal and Valencia are having disappointing seasons considering that both qualified for European competitions last year. Currently, Villareal occupy 18th place (relegation place) and Valencia is sitting middle of the table at 8th.

Now that I’ve pointed out some of the key teams this season, let’s review the results from the final matchday before the winter break, and then preview the second half of the season before finally coming to predictions.

Last Matchday Results

Girona 1-1 Getafe
Real Sociedad 0-1 Alavés
Real Betis 1-1 Eibar
Atlético Madrid 1-0 Espanyol
Barcelona 2-0 Celta Vigo
Athletic Club Bilbao 1-1 Real Valladolid
Valencia 2-1 SD Huesca
Leganes 1-1 Sevilla
Rayo Vallecano 2-1 Levante

Current table

Matches resume on January 3, 2019

Let’s preview the second half.

The second half of La Liga figures to be interesting because Real Madrid look to be gaining steam under caretaker manager Santiago Solari who replaced the embattled Julen Lopetegui (the same who controversially left the Spanish National Team just days before their tumultuous World Cup campaign). This means that a resurgent Real Madrid should challenge for a place in the European places, and will certainly look to make up ground in the title race, although 12 points at the winter break could be a hard ask given how the team opened the year. I also expect Valencia to start pushing for a Top 4 spot in a bid to secure a second straight season of Champions League football. Of the teams currently in the Top 4 who could fall out, Sevilla would be the favorite, as they still have three chances at silverware in the Copa Del Rey, La Liga, and the Europa League which could congest the fixture list down the stretch leaving a potential run for Alavés and Real Betis into the Top 4.

As for the relegation battle, the only spot I see as up for grabs is currently occupied by Villarreal. However, their position could be complicated by an ongoing Europa League campaign and league matches, something other clubs in a similar position do not have to deal with. As for the bottom two places, SD Huesca and Rayo Vallecano look fairly straightforward as both sides have had trouble scoring and keeping goals out, a recipe for relegation. The teams that face the most immediate relegation threat are the aformentioned Villarreal, Leganés, Athletic Club Bilbao, and Real Sociedad who are separated by a margin no larger than four points. Of these sides, Leganés and Athletic Club Bilbao appear to be the most ready made for relegation as they currently have the worst goal differentials among the above clubs.

Predictions

Player of the Year: Lionel Messi (I know, but please comment someone else if you don’t agree)
Top Scorer: Luis Suárez
Most Clean Sheets: Jan Oblak

Final Table

Barcelona (champion and Champions League qualification)
Real Madrid (Champions League qualification)
Atlético Madrid (Champions League qualification)
Sevilla (Champions League qualification)
Real Betis (Europa League qualification)
Valencia (Europa League Final Qualifying Round qualification)
Alavés
Getafe
Celta Vigo
Levante
Girona
Eibar
Real Valladolid
Espanyol
Real Sociedad
Villarreal
Athletic Club Bilbao
Leganés (relegated)
Rayo Vallecano (relegated)
SD Huesca (relegated)