Villarreal v Espanyol
Sunday 27th February – 1:00PM KO
Unai Emery’s side were unfortunate not to get a better result than their 1-1 draw with Juventus on Tuesday night, and now welcome Espanyol to Estadio de la Cerámica as they return to La Liga action. Following a Copa del Rey upset earlier in the season, that was their first midweek fixture since the first week of January.
That may have helped to fuel Villarreal’s good form. They have lost just one of their last 10 LaLiga fixtures, no side has performed better over that period than Villarreal’s average of 2.3 points per game. Everything has clicked into place after a disappointing start to the campaign, with this streak including an impressive recent win over Real Betis, as well as draws against Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid and their Italian rivals this week.
Espanyol, on the other hand, are without a win in LaLiga in 2022. Recent draws against Sevilla and Barcelona give a little hope, but they have won only once on the road this season. What’s more, coach Vicente Moreno has only won two and drawn seven of 31 matches away from home in the top flight of Spanish football as a coach.
Injuries to regular starters Étienne Capoue and Gerard Moreno mean that Emery’s line-up will be very similar to that which played on Tuesday as they seek to maintain a five-match unbeaten run. Espanyol will be without Manu Morlanes, who is injured, suspended and unavailable due to a loan clause, and Aleix Vidal, though Óscar Gil would have been likely to start in his position in any case.
Prediction: Villarreal to Win, 1.50 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
Sevilla v Real Betis
Sunday 27th February – 3:15PM KO
This Gran Derbi will undoubtedly be an incredibly heated one. The previous meeting in January saw the game suspended at the Estadio Benito Villamarín after an object was thrown at Sevilla midfielder Joan Jordán. The resulting feud saw Betis players take to social media to criticise Jordán and his coach Julen Lopetegui.
Sevilla would love to be out for revenge following that 2-1 Copa del Rey elimination on the other side of the Andalusian city, but we could see them settle for less. Lopetegui will be missing three of his first choice back four with Jules Koundé suspended, Diego Carlos and Gonzalo Montiel both serious injury doubts and Karim Rekik ruled out.
In addition, Lucas Ocampos is suspended and Anthony Martial, Erik Lamela and Suso are all out through injury. Such an injury crisis explains why Sevilla have won only two of their last eight, with the gap at the top of the LaLiga table extending to six points.
Real Betis, meanwhile, have only lost once in the last 12, and have built up an away record which is second only to leaders Real Madrid with only one defeat on the road since October. The only point against them for this one is that they will be without in-form attacker Juanmi due to suspension.
Notably, the referee will be Carlos del Cerro Grande. Only one referee has averaged more red cards per game than him this season, including one for Jules Koundé in his most recent Sevilla match. His three previous Gran Derbi performances have averaged seven cards per match, with an average of one penalty per 90 too.
Prediction: Real Betis Double Chance, 1.57 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
Real Sociedad v Osasuna
Sunday 27th February – 5:30PM KO
Real Sociedad come into this tie off the back of Europa League elimination against RB Leipzig on Thursday night in another devastating blow in a dreadful run which has seen them win just one of their last seven fixtures.
At home, they’ve won only two of their last six fixtures in LaLiga, and Imanol Alguacil’s team have only picked up nine points from their last 10 league fixtures. That would put them 17th in the table based on those results alone, while they have also crashed out of the Copa del Rey and the Europa League over that time period.
Despite sitting in mid-table, Osasuna have the fourth best away record in the division. They’ve won their last two away games, including Rayo Vallecano’s heaviest home defeat of the season, and have taken points from eight of their 12 away fixtures this season, with only Real Madrid and Real Betis having won more than their six victories.
The home team will be boosted by the return of influential midfielder Mikel Merino, but rotations are likely following Thursday’s defeat and David Silva and Portu are among those who could be rested. La Real will come up against an Osasuna side missing only one player, Jesús Areso, and with a range of attacking options including Kike García, Ante Budimir and Chimy Ávila.
Prediction: Osasuna Double Chance, 1.91 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
Barcelona v Athletic Club
Sunday 27th February – 8:00PM KO
Averaging 3.6 goals per game over their last five meetings, with both teams scoring in four of those, Barcelona’s recent meetings with Athletic Club have promised plenty of goals and entertainment.
After securing two clean sheets in his first two matches in charge, Xavi has only added two more in the next 17 games and Barcelona have now conceded in their last five fixtures in a row. That might be a concern for Barça fans, but they’ve averaged 3.4 goals per game over the last five to make sure that the good results keep coming.
That defensive instability is unlikely to be helped by the absence of Jordi Alba, who will serve a suspension for this clash. It likely means that Sergiño Dest will fill in at left-back, given injury to Alejandro Baldé, with Dani Alves returning to the team at right-back.
Athletic Club come into this tie on a high, having emerged victorious with a 4-0 win in the Basque Derby last weekend against Real Sociedad. However, they could make changes ahead of a Copa del Rey semi-final second leg against Valencia on Wednesday night. That could see regulars like Iñaki Williams or Iker Muniain dropped to the bench.
This match, as with Barcelona of late, looks like a hard one to call either way, but Xavi’s Barcelona have promised entertainment either way in their most recent outings.
Prediction: Both Teams to Score, 1.87 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
Granada vs Cádiz
Monday 28th February – 8:00PM KO
Only four points and one league position separate these two teams, with Granada avoiding the relegation zone by a narrow margin as things stand, while Cádiz are seeking to climb out of it. With nearest rivals Mallorca six points away, this is one of few chances that Cádiz will get to catch a direct rival this season.
Granada coach Robert Moreno has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks at Nuevo Estadio de Los Cármenes with the team sitting bottom of the form table for the last six fixtures, having scored only four goals and picked up one point. It has now been 372 minutes of football since Granada scored from open play.
Cádiz have only picked up one win over that period, but have shown signs of improvement under new coach Sergio González. The former Valladold coach has tasted defeat only once in his five LaLiga games in charge, scoring in four of those.
That means that Cádiz could pick up a much-needed win in what is looking like a crucial tie in the relegation battle with form in their favour. Cádiz have picked up more points away than they have at home over the course of this season, and this could be another chance to add to their tally.
Prediction: Cadiz Double Chance, 1.75 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️)
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