Getafe v Real Mallorca
With no Friday night game this week, the first fixture of the matchday is the lunchtime clash between Getafe and Real Mallorca. For the visitors from the Balearic Islands, this will be their first game with new coach Javier Aguirre, after deciding to sack Luis García Plaza during the international break following a run of six consecutive defeats.
Aguirre is an experienced coach, as the 63-year-old Mexican has previously taken charge of 381 matches in Spain’s top division across five different clubs, most recently when he was brought in at Leganés midway through the 2019/20 season. It took him a while to make an impact there, but he eventually improved that Leganés team and they were very unlucky as they suffered relegation on the final day of that season.
Even if it might take some time for the new Real Mallorca coach’s methods to work, Getafe will be wary of the prospect of a new manager bounce. Put bluntly, that is the only reason not to back the home side in this game.
That’s because Getafe have now gone nine home games without suffering defeat, winning six and drawing three of them, so they should be favoured in front of their home crowd at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez. They are a well-organised unit and have the league’s joint-second-top scorer in Enes Ünal, who is well supported by either Sandro or Borja Mayoral.
While it’s understandable that some might be put off by the fear of a potential new manager bounce, Getafe are still the favourites in this one.
Levante v Villarreal
There is a regional rivalry on Saturday afternoon in Levante vs Villarreal. Even if there isn’t too much animosity between these neighbours, there is a lot at stake as Levante desperately need a three-point haul as they remain anchored to the bottom of the table, while Villarreal need to win to keep pace in the European race.
Unai Emery’s side suffered a Champions League hangover last time out as they suffered a shock defeat to Cádiz just days after defeating Juventus, but they’ve now had two weeks to recover and refocus. They emerged from the January international break well by putting in an excellent display in a 2-0 win at Real Betis, so will aim for a similarly positive result on the road this weekend.
While it’s true that Levante are capable of springing the odd surprise, such as their away win at Atlético Madrid or 3-0 thrashing of Elche, they are 20th out of 20 for a reason and are missing several players through injury this week, most importantly their line-breaking playmaker Jorge de Frutos.
Villarreal, on the other hand, are healthier than they’ve been for weeks. They should be able to make this short trip and pick up the three points, ahead of their upcoming Champions League showdown with Bayern Munich.
Celta Vigo v Real Madrid
After their embarrassing 4-0 loss in El Clásico, the two weeks of this international break will have felt like an eternity for Real Madrid. They’ll be keen to return to action, but would surely have preferred a simpler fixture than a visit to Celta Vigo, who haven’t lost at home yet in 2022. They’ve won four and drawn two of their past six home games, so this won’t be easy for a Real Madrid side missing coach Carlo Ancelotti with COVID-19 as well as several players as a result of injury.
One of the players who is still an injury doubt is Karim Benzema and, even if he is able to play, he is not expected to play the full 90 minutes, given that a visit to Chelsea is coming up on Wednesday. As we saw in El Clásico, Real Madrid are toothless in attack without him, so that’s not a good sign.
Celta Vigo have almost everyone available, bar captain and right-back Hugo Mallo. Given the presence of Vinícius, the younger Kevin Vázquez might have been preferred there anyway. So, Celta Vigo are essentially at full strength, plus they only had three players away this international break.
More dropped points from Real Madrid would set the alarm bells ringing and that could be a possibility, but the value here could be with a bet on under 2.5 goals. Both of these teams have strong defences, while Celta Vigo tend to score just enough to get by and Real Madrid rely on Benzema, who isn’t 100 percent. It’s also interesting to note that just two of Celta Vigo’s last 11 league games have produced more than 2.5 goals, the lowest such percentage in all of LaLiga in that time.
There is, therefore, good reason to believe this could be a low-scoring affair, and potentially a frustrating afternoon for the league leaders.
Atlético Madrid v Alavés
Atlético Madrid went into the international break on a fantastic run of form, having won their previous five matches as they climbed back into the top four of LaLiga Santander and also won at Old Trafford to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League. They’ve gone back to basics somewhat and it’s working for them.
This coming week they have one of their easiest fixtures of the year and then one of their toughest, with this Saturday night match at home to second-bottom Alavés coming just before their visit to take on Manchester City. While some teams might have one eye on the Etihad right now, Diego Simeone is the coach who epitomises the ‘one game at a time’ mantra. So, Atleti will take the challenge of Alavés very seriously.
Alavés have virtually their entire squad available, but that isn’t saying much since this has been the case for weeks and they have only won one out of 11 games under current coach José Luis Mendilibar. Atlético Madrid, meanwhile, have welcomed several players back from injury over the break and will be close to full strength. João Félix is a slight doubt with a shoulder injury, but is expected to shake that off to play some minutes in attack.
It is all set up for Atlético Madrid to put in a strong showing in front of their home fans on Saturday night and to swat aside Alavés as they look to cement their still-fragile position inside this year’s top four and as they prepare for Manchester City. A win by multiple goals would be the perfect send-off and, given both these teams’ recent form, that would surprise no one.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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