Espanyol v Rayo Vallecano
With the pressure off in recent weeks, Espanyol have come out of their shell and were seconds away from securing an impressive draw against Atlético Madrid on Sunday. They’ll be hoping to maintain that impressive form against a Rayo Vallecano team who find themselves unexpectedly fighting for survival in La Liga after a bright start to the campaign.
Espanyol’s home form is the seventh best in the league, and they have been unbeaten at the RCDE Stadium since Real Betis came to town in mid-January. Since then, they have secured two draws, followed by three consecutive wins while maintaining clean sheets in all three.
Rayo remain without a win in the 2022 calendar year and have picked up only one point on the road since November. The odds will also be against them as ever-present right-back Iván Balliu will be absent for the first time this season following his sending off in the away defeat to bottom-side Alavés on Saturday.
Having scored his 15th goal of the season against Atlético at the weekend, Raúl de Tomás’ fire power could make the difference given that no Rayo player has scored more than five goals all season.
Levante v Sevilla
This tie is the most unpredictable one of the matchday, with Levante scrapping to avoid relegation and Sevilla having tasted defeat for only the fourth time this season against Real Madrid on Sunday night.
Julen Lopetegui’s side were shell-shocked by Real Madrid’s comeback win on Sunday, emerging 3-2 victors having seen Sevilla lead by two goals at the break. Their reaction will determine this game, but the circumstances will be tough.
Key players from their spine, such as Jules Koundé and Ivan Rakitić, are doubts with injuries picked up in that top-of-the-table clash, while Anthony Martial has also been ruled out after being forced off. That could mean that Rafa Mir returns to a starting role.
In contrast to Sevilla’s low, Levante sit 12th in the form table with an average of 3.7 goals per game across the last six. Even in just the last few weeks, they have scored three against Barcelona and two against Champions League semi-finalists Villarreal, showing that they are capable of mixing it with even LaLiga’s best defences. Involved in 75% of Levante’s goals across the last three games, captain José Luis Morales is good value at 6.0 to be first goalscorer.
Sevilla have averaged a lower 2.4 goals per game across the first 30 games of the season, but in recent weeks that record has vanished, with 5.5 goals per game in the past two weeks. Levante, their confident attack and leaky defence, will be expecting to extend that
Cádiz vs Athletic Club
Fresh off the back of a shock victory over Barcelona at Camp Nou on Monday night, Cádiz will now face an easier challenge as they welcome Athletic Club to the Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla. The relegation-battlers sit seventh in the form table, with three wins and a draw from their last six, and will be looking to build upon that impressive form.
Athletic Club, on the other hand, have one win from their last five and have not won away from home since January. Marcelino is likely to go with an offensive line-up in the south of Spain, fielding Álex Berenguer and Iker Muniain in midfield, with veteran Raúl García accompanying Iñaki Williams in midfield. However, they have scored only one goal in their last three away games.
Cádiz rested some players on Monday, and the likes of Carlos Akapo, Rubén Alcaraz, Oussama Idrissi and Álvaro Negredo could all return to the team. Lucas Pérez should retain his place after he scored the winner in Barcelona, and at 9.0, could be excellent value for a first goalscorer bet.
Fighting for their lives and much-improved under Sergio González, a motivated Cádiz will be confident of securing a result against Athletic. The Basque team are known for their inconsistency and could make life difficult, but Cádiz have shown that they can grind out results and will be optimistic of picking up at least a point.
Real Sociedad v Barcelona
Any fixture at the Reale Arena is unlikely to end in a goalfest, with an average of 1.13 goals per 90 at Real Sociedad’s home stadium this season. The home side have also kept clean sheets in four of their last five games, and will be confident of doing so again as they face a side who drew a blank at home to lowly Cádiz on Monday night.
Real Sociedad will be without the suspended David Silva, after his dismissal for dissent on Friday night against Real Betis, which will likely open the door to former-Manchester United prodigy Adnan Januzaj in midfield.
Barcelona will be able to count upon defensive reinforcements as Ronald Araújo and Gerard Piqué both look set to return from suspension and injury, albeit despite the controversies surrounding the latter off the pitch this week. That means that Barcelona will be far more comfortable at the back up against Alexander Isak and Alexander Sørloth, who have two goals between them in 2022.
A point will be a boost for Real Sociedad, though they’ll be looking to shock Barcelona as they seek to overtake Real Betis in the race for the top four. A win would put them ahead of the Verdiblancos after their surprise defeat to Elche on Tuesday. Barcelona, meanwhile, will be looking to firm up their place in second ahead of Sevilla and Atlético Madrid
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