Levante v Alavés
Levante have been relegated and will only have pride to play for, while Alavés will be fighting for survival as only a win will do to keep their chances of avoiding relegation alive until the final matchday. They were relegated convincingly at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu on the end of a 6-0 defeat on Thursday night.
Alavés at home will provide a very different test, but it could bring about just as many goals, even if the visitors’ motivation may not be enough. Only six points on the road all season, and 2.3 goals conceded per game, suggest that this game is unlikely to be an easy one for Alavés despite Levante’s fate already having been sealed.
Julio Velázquez is expected to field an offensive side which features wingers Luis Rioja and Édgar Méndez, with Jason Remeseiro and Gonzalo Escalante bringing goals from midfield. All of that, combined with top scorer Joselu, could provide a real test in outsourcing José Luis Morales and Roger Martí in the Levante attack.
With 56% of Levante’s game this season and 50% of Alavés’ games having involved over 2.5 goals this season, this last shot at survival is likely to include some desperate attacking and more woeful defending from Alavés, while Levante’s defence has already proven itself incapable of putting up much of a fight.
Mallorca v Rayo Vallecano
Mallorca simply have to win this game. Currently in the bottom three, they could be relegated should results elsewhere go against them and they fail to win against Rayo Vallecano. In stark contrast, Rayo’s survival is already secured and they celebrated with a 5-1 thrashing at home to Villarreal.
The away team will be without four key midfielders due to injuries and suspension, as Isi Palazón and Óscar Trejo are both injury doubts while Santi Comesaña and Unai López are both suspended. That will give Andoni Iraola a real headache that could see him compromise and sacrifice solidity in the middle for a more offensive option like Bebé.
The odds are, therefore, in favour of the home team. Javier Aguirre’s side have won two of their last three at home and will be confident of shutting out a Rayo team who are the second-lowest goalscorers in LaLiga when it comes to away goals with 12 from 18 games.
Aguirre’s side have been far less conservative at home than they have been in away games and will look to kill off Rayo’s hopes with attacking power, having scored in their last three home games. January addition Vedat Muriqi has been involved in a goal in five of his eight appearances at the Visit Mallorca Stadium and is good value at 4.5 to be first goalscorer.
Villarreal v Real Sociedad
This tie is the biggest fixture of the weekend with so much at stake for both teams as a win for one team will get one hand on a Europa League spot for next season. Real Sociedad have held that position almost all season, but defeat would see Villarreal leapfrog them into sixth.
This game is a difficult one to predict given the recent form of both teams. While they both secured convincing thrashings of their opponents in midweek, both teams had one disappointing draw and one defeat to a team in the bottom three in their previous two games. The almost knock-out feature of this meeting could feed into the hands of cup king Unai Emery, though.
The reverse fixture ended with a 3-1 win for Villarreal in San Sebastián and being on the road is unlikely to help Imanol Aguacil’s chances, given that Real Sociedad have taken one point from a possible 18 on the road against other teams in the top eight this season. However, he will recover both regulars Alexander Isak and Ruben LeNormand after they served suspensions against Cádiz.
The best bet would be to go with Villarreal. They will be looking to chase the game and ensure that they get the win, full of confidence off the back of scoring five at Vallecas. Real Sociedad’s poor record against other teams at the top of the table, particularly away from home, should put the home side in pole position, and their best hope could be to shut the game down with a more defensive approach to play for the draw.
Celta Vigo v Elche
Known for their inconsistency, Celta Vigo have only repeated match outcomes in consecutive games twice in 2022, and that was summarised by their tremendous 4-0 win over Alavés last weekend being followed up by a 3-1 thrashing at the hands of Barcelona in midweek.
On home turf, Celta have looked more comfortable and will take comfort from the fact that Getafe’s recent win at Balaídos was the first time a bottom-half team has taken all three points from a trip to Vigo since September. With immense attacking talent in good form in creative playmaker Denis Suárez and goalscorer Iago Aspas, Chacho Coudet’s side will fancy their chances of out-scoring Elche.
Elche guaranteed their status as a top-flight team in midweek with results elsewhere going their way, and their players look to be on the beach already. Five goals conceded without reply in their last two fixtures, against Cádiz and Atlético Madrid, suggest that they may not put up much of a fight against Celta.
Francisco has taken to heavy rotation in recent weeks, which could mean that second-leading scorer Lucas Boyé starts on the bench, with the far less prolific Guido Carrillo selected in his place. Top scorer Pere Milla will also be unavailable as he serves a suspension after collecting his fifth yellow card of the season against Atleti.
Athletic Club v Osasuna
This is one of the many games this matchday between one team with everything to play for and another club that has nothing at stake. Athletic Club’s chances of qualifying for Europe are diminishing, as they’re now four points behind seventh-placed Villarreal, but they do still have that carrot dangling in front of them and it is an explicit objective at the club.
Osasuna, meanwhile, have nothing at all at stake as they are firmly in mid-table. Coach Jagoba Arrasate has even been experimenting in recent weeks with different formations and different personnel, and is expected to do so again in Bilbao.
This, therefore, is a great opportunity for Athletic to go out and win their final home game of the season. They have the motivation to do so and they also have the quality. These are two teams that actually play a similar style of football, but the quality in the Athletic Club squad is far superior and that should make the difference, as well as the home advantage.
Atlético Madrid v Sevilla
Atlético Madrid have already secured their spot in next season’s Champions League and they take on a Sevilla side that have almost confirmed their top four finish too. Given that fourth-placed Sevilla have a five-point gap to fifth-placed Real Betis, they should be fine regardless of the result in this game.
It does, though, create an interesting situation of Sevilla having more to play for than Atleti. Even still, Diego Simeone should feel confident against his former club since Sevilla usually struggle against the top teams and haven’t won away at Atleti since 2008, long before talk of moving to the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano had even begun.
Even more recently, Sevilla’s away form has not been good. It has been their Achilles’ heel this LaLiga season, as they’ve only won six out of 18 away games so far. With this being Atlético Madrid’s last home game of the season, Simeone will have his team motivated enough for this occasion and they should be able to take care of a Sevilla team that has won just one of their past 11 away games in all competitions.
Real Betis v Granada
As mentioned above, it’s Real Betis who still have a slight chance of taking a Champions League spot off their city rivals Sevilla. But, it won’t be easy for Manuel Pellegrini’s side against Granada, who have significantly improved since Aitor Karanka took over as coach. Granada have drawn two and won two since he took over and will still be battling to avoid relegation in this game.
So, even though Real Betis are significantly favoured by the bookies for a win in this game, it might be worth looking at other markets.
For example, a bet on under 2.5 goals could be worth a look since it’s Granada’s defence that has improved the most under Karanka. In his four games so far, they’ve conceded just three goals, which is 0.75 per game and significantly better than the 1.75 goals per game that they were shipping before his arrival.
Considering how valuable even one point will be for Granada, we can expect an extra-defensive approach from Granada’s side. That already worked when they secured a goalless draw away at Atlético Madrid in his first game and it could pay off again away at another of LaLiga’s top teams.
Cádiz v Real Madrid
Real Madrid just put on a show in midweek, thrashing Levante 6-0 at the Bernabéu even though the champions were the ones with nothing, in theory, to play for. But, it could be quite different this weekend when they visit Cádiz.
The Real Madrid team that took to the field against Levante was, apart from injuries, close to the usual starting XI. That’s because Carlo Ancelotti is something of a showman and wants to keep playing his starters for Real Madrid’s remaining home matches, to give the fans what they’re paying for. On the road, however, he is much more willing to rotate and major rotations should be expected in this trip to Cádiz, in addition to the suspension of Luka Modrić and the injury doubts over another eight players. The Italian has even already announced that Andriy Lunin will start in goals ahead of Thibaut Courtois. Karim Benzema and Vinícius are expected to rest too.
Cádiz, on the other hand, have no suspensions and just a few injuries and they have everything to play for, since they are the team hovering just above the relegation zone. Even a draw here might now be good enough to stay out of the drop zone, depending on what Real Mallorca do.
With the home crowd behind them and against a heavily weakened Real Madrid line-up, Cádiz have a great opportunity to take a positive result against the league champions.
Getafe v Barcelona
Getafe vs Barcelona is a game where there is sort of something at stake, but not really. Both clubs have almost already sealed their objectives, of avoiding relegation and finishing second, but not quite yet.
So, both sides will take this game seriously, although Barcelona’s starting XI will be conditioned by the fact that they’re missing the suspended Jordi Alba, Eric García and Frenkie de Jong as well as several injured players, including Gerard Piqué and possibly Ronald Araújo.
With so many absences in Barcelona’s defence, Getafe’s front two of Borja Mayoral and Enes Ünal should be licking their lips. Getafe might not win this game, since Barcelona are the clear favourites, but they certainly have enough firepower to score a goal against a central defence that could be made up of Óscar Mingueza and Clement Lenglet.
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