Real Sociedad v Real Betis
The weekend’s action starts with Real Sociedad vs Real Betis, a battle between the teams currently sixth and fifth in the table. Both these sides are still hopeful of making it to the Champions League, as fourth-placed Atlético Madrid are on 57 points, while Real Betis have 56 and Real Sociedad 54. In a way, this direct duel between the Blue and Whites and the Green and Whites is a playoff to determine which one of these teams can push on and challenge Atlético Madrid for that final Champions League spot.
A draw doesn’t suit either of these teams’ ambitions, so we should expect a back-and-forth and end-to-end game as both sides push for the victory. This could be a classic “feels like a cup tie” kind of encounter.
That makes a bet on the over in the goals market an attractive one. Some might be put off such a bet given that Real Sociedad’s last six home league games have been 1-0, 1-0, 1-0, 2-0, 0-0 and 1-0, but that is in large part down to the type of opposition they were facing during that run, as they hosted Espanyol, Alavés, Osasuna, Granada, Getafe and Celta Vigo, five of which are in the bottom half of the LaLiga ranking for goals scored this season. The only of those sides in the top half for goals scored was Espanyol, but they visited Real Sociedad without their top scorer Raúl de Tomás.
Real Betis, therefore, are an entirely different prospect. This is a team that can score goals and that will have their main playmakers Nabil Fekir and Sergio Canales available and back to 100 percent fitness. Plus, this is a team that needs to adopt a more attacking approach at the Reale Arena, given how valuable these points are in the pursuit of Champions League football. That’s why the over makes sense here in the first game of the LaLiga weekend.
Elche v Real Mallorca
Elche vs Real Mallorca is a battle of two teams who have slipped back towards the relegation zone after appearing to be safe earlier in the season. They have each won one and lost five of their past six matches, although the difference is that Real Mallorca’s win came just last weekend and they earned it against the reigning champions Atlético Madrid.
That was new Real Mallorca coach Javier Aguirre’s second game in charge and he has made some significant tactical changes since coming in, most obviously the switch to a very defensive-minded back five formation.
Given Real Mallorca’s new extra-defensive approach and given the fact that Elche are missing top scorer Lucas Boyé through injury and one of his potential replacements Guido Carrillo as a result of another injury, this should be a low-scoring game on Saturday between two teams who haven’t been scoring much and who are likely to come into this weekend’s fixture with a conservative approach, aware that a draw would be a good result.
Alavés v Rayo Vallecano
Rayo Vallecano still haven’t won a LaLiga match in the calendar year of 2022, as their most recent league victory actually came against this weekend’s opponents Alavés back on December 18th, which was 13 league fixtures ago. Rayo have really struggled in the second half of the season and their winless run could continue this weekend, even though they’re playing the bottom-placed team in the division.
At Alavés, there is some renewed optimism after the appointment of Julio Velázquez as coach. In his first game since taking over, his side lost 1-0 at Osasuna courtesy of a stoppage time goal, but there were some positive signs for Alavés and now Velázquez has the first home game of his tenure.
Given that Rayo have been so poor in LaLiga this calendar year, with eight defeats and four draws since they last won, and given that Rayo have just one away victory in LaLiga all season, this is a golden opportunity for Alavés to take some points and build some momentum for their survival push.
Valencia v Osasuna
Valencia have quietly been on a solid run of form, going six undefeated in the league at the same time as they made it to the Copa del Rey final. That final is just around the corner now, with the game to take place on April 23rd, so this weekend’s clash with Osasuna will be Los Che’s final home match before the showpiece event.
They’ll hope to at least pick up a point against Osasuna to keep up their undefeated run and have every chance of doing so given that the team from Pamplona have lost each of their past three away games. Those Osasuna losses came against better teams than Valencia, in the form of Real Sociedad, Barcelona and Real Betis, but Valencia are an improving side and should also have enough to break them down.
With Bryan Gil expected to return from injury and with Mouctar Diakhaby back from suspension, Valencia will be able to put out close to a full-strength line-up for this game. They’re favourites, although the draw no bet option might be the way to go since Valencia do have the second-most draws in LaLiga this season.
Getafe v Villarreal
Villarreal are Champions League semi-finalists and come into this weekend’s game against Getafe as favourites. But, they’re only slight favourites. That’s because the recent domestic form of Unai Emery’s men hasn’t been good and because Getafe are a tough team to play, especially at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez.
Getafe are undefeated over their past 10 home games, winning seven and drawing three of them. Plus, in seven of these past 10 home matches, Getafe have earned a clean sheet, with their back five performing particularly well at home. Against a Villarreal side that will be fatigued following their exploits in Munich, Getafe will target another clean sheet on Saturday night.
This could, therefore, be a frustrating night for Emery’s side as they try to unpick the lock of Getafe’s well-drilled defence, potentially lacking the freshness to do so.
At the other end, Villarreal will be confident of frustrating Getafe’s attackers too as the Pau Torres and Raúl Albiol central defensive partnership gets better and better with every game. While a few of the heroes of Munich could be rested for this game, Torres and Albiol are likely to start once again.
Therefore, goals could be at a premium in this encounter, especially with the referee being Pablo González Fuertes, the heavy handed official who seems to prefer when the ball is not in play.
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