Madrid out to offer their cup exit apologies on the pitch against Getafe
It is safe to say Cristiano Ronaldo did not enjoy coming out to apologise for Real Madrid’s exit from the Copa del Rey as he faced the cameras following the holders’ 4-2 aggregate defeat against a Fernando Torres-inspired Atletico Madrid on Thursday night.
The former Manchester United man, who paraded his Ballon d’Or trophy to a packed Santiago Bernabeu before kick-off, said “it’s impossible to be at 100 per cent in every game” after former Chelsea man Torres struck inside the first minute of each half to see Atleti make it five games unbeaten against their more illustrious neighbours since the sides met in Lisbon for the Champions League final on that unforgettable night last May.
The Liga leaders have far from been at 100 per cent since the turn of the year, with two defeats, one victory and one draw to show for their efforts after going the previous 22 unbeaten. Ronaldo’s words may act to drive the European champions to a higher level when they make the short trip across the Spanish capital to face Getafe on Sunday.
At 2/9, Madrid are big favourites to secure back-to-back league wins against a Getafe side who have not won a match at home in the league since a 1-0 victory against Malaga in September. for Ronaldo to lead his side’s apologies and open the scoring with his 27th goal of the league campaign offers odds of 5/2.
Getafe’s chances of an upset are reflected in the 19/2 being offered for a home win but the Madrid club have pushed the league’s big hitters close at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez this season. Barcelona could only leave with a point before Christmas while Atletico only won by a single goal against ten-men. That, coupled with the fact Quique Flores and his men have had an extra day to prepare, makes the draw at 53/10 an attractive bet.
Barca rejuvenated ahead of Deportivo trip
The last time Barcelona were on the road in La Liga a 1-0 defeat at David Moyes’ Real Sociedad opened up a mini crisis that led to reports of Lionel Messi wanting out, Luis Enrique on the verge of being shown the door, sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta being sacked and Josep Maria Bartomeu calling early presidential elections.
A lot has changed in two weeks. Barca followed that up with two victories that included goals from Messi, Neymar and Suarez, the second a 3-1 success against champions Atletico Madrid, while a second string comfortably saw off Elche 4-0 on Thursday night in the cup. Crisis? What crisis?
Twelve goals have come in those three matches and the Catalans will be hungry for more when they visit struggling Deportivo on Sunday. Barca’s chances of a fourth straight win are mirrored in odds of 2/11 being offered for Luis Enrique’s men to claim victory at the Riazor. To win by a margin of more than two goals may be more tempting at 6/5.
Depor may have secured a crucial 1-0 victory over an out-of-sorts Athletic Bilbao on home soil last time out but Victor Fernandez’s side have failed to score in six of their last eight league matches. A high-scoring win for the visitors is likely and for a repeat of the 4-0 they achieved in the cup in midweek offers 15/2.
The rest of the action in La Liga
La Liga’s top three all have comfortable-looking matches this weekend with Atletico Madrid likely to keep pace at the top with victory over a Granada side who have not won in the league since September and who parted company with coach Joaquin Caparros on Friday afternoon.
Diego Simeone’s side welcome the managerless basement club to the Vicente Calderon fresh off the back of their cup victory over neighbours Real Madrid which stretched their unbeaten run in derby matches to five. They are 2/11 to keep the good feeling from their derby delight going and bounce back from their league slip-up at Barcelona last weekend.
Former Chelsea and Liverpool man Torres was star of the show at the Bernabeu with both of his side’s goals – his first since returning to the club and his first at the Bernabeu – and he will be licking his lips to be involved again.
Granada are leaking goals and Simeone will be tempted to hand El Niño his first start in La Liga since arriving on a long-term loan from Milan. Mario Mandzukic was not even included in Thursday’s squad owing to injury and for Torres to score at anytime offers odds of 5/4.
French forward Antoine Griezmann put both of Torres’ goals on a plate and has been in exceptional form in recent weeks. For the former Real Sociedad man to open the scoring offers longer odds than his fellow peroxide blonde forward at 10/3.
Many will have expected Cordoba against Eibar to be a proverbial relegation six pointer at the start of the campaign but both clubs are proving their doubters wrong in their own way ahead of Friday night’s meeting at the Nuevo Arcangel stadium.
Cordoba could not buy a win at the start of the season, something which cost former Chelsea defender Albert Ferrer his job, but back-to-back league wins since the turn of the year under new boss Miroslav Djukic have hauled the Andalusians out of the bottom three.
They have only lost one of their last six and that sole defeat was at the Camp Nou.
Eibar have also continued their sensational season with two wins from two in 2015 and sit eighth in the table. Form points to a game of renewed confidence for both sides and the 39/20 for the draw may be the most tempting option, with 43/10 being offered for a 1-1 scoreline.
Real Sociedad manager David Moyes may enjoy the crisps at Anoeta but the former Manchester United and Everton boss will aim to keep his seat in the dugout on Saturday when Rayo Vallecano visit San Sebastian.
Moyes was sent to the stands during his side’s Copa del Rey exit against Villarreal in midweek but the 2-2 draw, which saw his team bow out 3-2 on aggregate, at least stretched La Real’s unbeaten home record in all competitions to six matches.
Victories against Atletico Madrid and Barcelona are included in that run and the Basque side will be confident of another three points against an out-of-form Rayo side. A Sociedad victory offers odds of 5/6.
Leo Baptistao’s injury absence should ease the workload on the home defence and the fact Rayo have conceded at least three goals in four of their last six away matches suggests odds of 25/2 for a 3-0 home win are attractive.
Former Arsenal man Carlos Vela, in good form and top-scorer for La Real with seven so far this term, is 4/1 to breach the Rayo defence first.
Valencia will be expected to keep the pressure on the top four with victory against an Almeria side who will face a tough battle against relegation this season.
Los Che have been exceptional on home soil this season, only losing a close-fought match against Barcelona and ending Real Madrid’s 22-match winning streak last time out, and are 10/3 to bag another three points at the Mestalla on Saturday.
Paco Alcacer was hauled off as a precautionary measure in Valencia’s surprise midweek cup exit against Espanyol but the Spain international is expected to start alongside Manchester City loan man in the Valencia attack and is 10/3 to open the scoring, with Negredo at 7/2.
A winning margin of more than two goals for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, at 41/20, will be tempting given Valencia’s appetite for goals on home soil.
Form side Villarreal show no signs of slowing down in their pursuit for a Champions League place and the Yellow Submarines will look to sink a struggling Athletic Bilbao outfit at El Madrigal on Saturday afternoon.
Marcelino’s men are 8/13 to continue their devastating form, which has seen them unbeaten since a home loss against Valencia at the start of November.
Villarreal have not even dropped a point at home in the league since then and face an Athletic side who have lost four of their last five matches and dropped to 13th in the table.
There has even been talk of Ernesto Valverde’s job being on the line and perhaps the last place he wants to visit right now is El Madrigal. Villarreal have been flying and reported Premier League target Luciano Vietto has been shining. The Argentine is 4/1 to open the scoring this weekend.
Mid-table pair Espanyol and Celta Vigo meet at the Power8 Stadium on Saturday night on the back of Copa del Rey victories in midweek, although Espanyol will be boosted by a surprise progression against Valencia while Celta’s win was in vain as they bowed out on aggregate against Athletic Bilbao.
The hosts are the form team out of the two and also have a hold over their Galician opponents having won the last six competitive fixtures between the pair. Odds of 33/20 are on offer for a lucky seventh this weekend.
Celta are struggling after an encouraging start, especially on the road where they have trailed at half-time and full-time of their last four away matches. For Espanyol to be leading at the interval and at full-time offers 31/10.
There is a relegation battle at the Manuel Martínez Valero stadium on Sunday night when Elche host third-from-bottom Levante.
At 23/20 the hosts have the edge thanks to a confidence-boosting 2-1 victory in Bilbao last weekend but Levante, a 5-2 for the win, will see the game as an opportunity to put some distance between them and the bottom three.
Brazilian forward Jonathas put both goals on a place at San Mames and as Elche’s top scorer with seven goals to his name this season he is an attractive price at 5/1 to open the scoring.Sevilla will be out to retain the fourth Champions League spot and hold off the threat of seventh-placed Malaga when the sides wrap up the weekend of Liga action on Sunday night at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán stadium.
Unai Emery’s men are unbeaten in their last five matches and have won four of them while conceding just one goal in the process. For Sevilla to win and keep another clean sheet offers odds of 5/6.
Colombian forward Carlos Bacca is Sevilla’s top scorer with ten goals but he has not found the back of the net in his last five matches, stretching back to the winner in a 1-0 win at Rayo Vallecano. He is 7/2 to end his draught by opening the scoring against Javi Gracia’s side.