Almería v Celta Vigo
Celta Vigo are favourites in the bookies’ eyes as they make the 800km trip to Almería, which is a little strange considering Celta have no wins in four games and have lost each of their previous four on the road. Almería are a strong home side too, having won three out of five home games this season, only losing to high-flying Real Madrid and Osasuna.
If analysing the quality of the squads, Celta Vigo do have better players. But that hasn’t been on show the past few weeks. The Galicians will now be without their captain and starting right-back Hugo Mallo for this trip, placing even more responsibility on an already weighed down Iago Aspas, who has scored just one goal in the past seven.
Under coach Rubi, Almería are looking increasingly like a team with each passing week. Losing Umar Sadiq on deadline day shocked them a lot, but they’ve now been able to recover and they’ve found the back of the net eight times across their past four games, at least once in each of those encounters. They’re spreading the goals around too, with six different goal scorers for those past eight strikes, while the young El Bilal Touré has three in that time as he starts to find his feet.
This, of course, won’t be an easy game for newly promoted Almería. But there is great value there for a team that is improving with each week and that has three wins from five home fixtures.
Valencia v Barcelona
Valencia vs Barcelona is the blockbuster game of this weekend and it should be a fun one. It usually produces lots of goals, averaging 3.1 per game over the past decade of this fixture, including three separate 3-2 victories for Barça.
This year should be no different, especially with both these sides playing ambitious and attacking football. That sees them both sit in the top five for goals scored, with Barcelona joint-top in this category with 28 goals scored and with Valencia joint-fourth with 18 scored. Although Barcelona have the best defence in the division with just four conceded, Valencia are a lot further down in this regard as they have just the ninth best defensive record after letting in 13 goals.
All of this combines to mean Barcelona’s matches this season have averaged 2.91 total goals and Valencia’s have averaged 2.82 total goals. Another game with over 2.5 goals should be expected this Saturday, especially considering the main injury concerns for both sides are in defence, with centre-back Mouctar Diakhaby out for Los Che and with centre-backs Ronald Araújo and Andreas Christensen still out for Barça.
With world-class attackers leading the line too in Edinson Cavani and Robert Lewandowski, goals really should be expected. These two strikers have only actually met three times before, but each of those games produced a goal from one of them. Cavani is 3.50 to be anytime goalscorer on Saturday, while Lewandowski is priced at 1.57.
Osasuna v Real Valladolid
These two teams actually faced off once already this season, albeit in a friendly, as they took on one another in the September international break to maintain their fitness levels. That game ended with a 2-0 win for Osasuna, and it is reasonable to expect the same to happen again at El Sadar in Sunday’s early kick-off.
Osasuna sit fourth in the table when only home form is considered, with four wins from six, while Real Valladolid have won just one game from their five trips on the road since the campaign kicked off in August.
Jagoba Arrasate’s team will not only have home advantage, but they will also have towering defender David García back after suspension. He is a big part of Osasuna having the second-lowest number of mistakes leading to a shot in LaLiga and is undoubtedly the team’s leader in the back line. He also scored four headers last season, and in Real Valladolid faces the team with the lowest aerial duel success rate in the division.
His biggest challenge will be to keep quiet Real Valladolid’s forward pairing of Sergio León and Shon Weissman. After scoring 20 in 38 last season, the Israeli international has only scored one in eight to date this year, and those in Pamplona will be optimistic of keeping a second consecutive home clean sheet on their way to victory.
Real Madrid v Girona
Real Madrid may have crashed to their first defeat of the season against RB Leipzig in Germany in midweek, but that was with a heavily rotated side and shouldn’t hold them back up against Girona on Sunday afternoon. In fact, Madridistas could well expect to see a thrashing of their Catalan opposition.
Between them, these two teams have seen 71 goals scored in 22 games so far this season in LaLiga, ranking them as the top two teams for that statistic. It’s fair enough to think that there will be goals again at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, and they will most likely go in Real Madrid’s direction with an average of 2.6 goals scored per game at home.
There are some question marks over who may start for Real Madrid in attack, with Karim Benzema unlikely to be risked, but Rodrygo is likely to lead the line after scoring in Germany in midweek. Fede Valverde, who is averaging a goal every 140 minutes, could also return after being rested for Champions League action and is good value at 5.5 to be first goalscorer.
Girona have picked up only one point on the road this season, at Real Mallorca, and have lost their last three in a row. Most concerningly for Míchel, after 11 games they are still yet to keep a clean sheet in LaLiga. That is a daunting statistic to face ahead of a trip to face the league leaders who have a point to prove.
Athletic Club v Villarreal
It has been a rough week for Villarreal, who have fallen some way since Nicholas Jackson scored a 94th minute winner last weekend against Almería. Having struggled to beat the relegation candidates at home, coach Unai Emery then stunned the club by departing for Aston Villa, which president Fernando Roig described as leaving them “wrongfooted”. Quique Setién has since arrived, but has had only a couple of days with his new players.
That started with a 2-2 draw against Hapoel Beer Sheva, where the Israeli team gave them a surprisingly tough test as Setién fielded some of his key players, including Arnaut Danjuma, Manu Trigueros and Yeremi Pino. In addition, the likes of Dani Parejo and Giovanni Lo Celso had minutes off the bench. That bucks the trend of Emery leaving his regulars on the bench for Conference League fixtures.
Athletic, on the other hand, have had a full week of rest after a terrible display against Barcelona and will now be keen to end a four-match run without a win. Only one of those four matches was at home, against Atlético Madrid, so they will fancy their chances back in Bilbao against a Villarreal side with two points from a possible 15 in their last five away LaLiga matches.
It’s unlikely that Setién will be relishing a trip to San Mamés either, given that his 10 matches against the Basque side have averaged 0.9 points per game, a figure only superior to his records against Barcelona and Real Madrid of all LaLiga sides he has faced.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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