Moyes and Real Sociedad set for Bernabeu test
David Moyes and his Real Sociedad side will look to take inspiration from their shock 1-0 win against Barcelona when they visit the Bernabeu to take on current Liga leaders Real Madrid on Saturday afternoon.
The former Manchester United and Everton boss guided the Basque club to a famous victory over the Catalans at Anoeta earlier this month and was also in the stands as his side saw off reigning league champions Atletico Madrid in November.
The results followed a stunning 4-2 victory in the reverse fixture against Madrid – ensuring the league’s top sides have had it tough when visiting San Sebastian.
The same will not be expected in the surroundings of the Bernabeu, especially with La Real failing to post a win on their travels since the Scot took charge. Moyes has an eye for the shock, however, and victory in the Spanish capital would be a sure-fire surprise at 47/4.
Madrid struggled out of the traps in their last-gasp 2-1 win at Cordoba, conceding a goal inside three minutes.
Former Arsenal man Carlos Vela, who scored in the victories against both Madrid clubs at Anoeta, and Xabi Prieto, who netted the winner against Eibar last time out, will fancy their chances at 11/1 and 18/1 respectively.
Carlo Ancelotti will be without leading marksman Cristiano Ronaldo through suspension and the onus will shift to Gareth Bale to continue his good form and plug the goal gap left by the Ballon d’Or holder.
The former Tottenham Hostpur man is 3/1 to kick-on from his penalty winner in Andalusia last time out and open the scoring against Moyes and his men.
Madrid have hit at least four goals in their last four home matches against the Basque outfit and for a 4-0 scoreline on Saturday odds of 31/4 are being offered.
A winning margin of two or more goals for the hosts brings 23/20. Good luck, David…
Something’s got to give at Camp Nou
The most enticing match of the weekend undoubtedly comes at the Camp Nou where Barcelona host a Villarreal side that make the trip on the back of an 18-game unbeaten run in all competitions that stretches back to the start of November and a 3-1 home defeat against Valencia.
Barcelona, on the back of seven straight wins of their own and with home advantage, are favourites at 2/9 but Villarreal’s 41/4 to snatch a win in Catalonia will be tempting given the form Marcelino’s men carry into the contest.
The sides will meet each other in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey after booking their places in the last four in midweek but Luis Enrique’s men will be the ones feeling the aftermath the most after a feisty encounter at Atletico Madrid.
Neymar was the star of the show at the Vicente Calderon with a brace of goals to ensure Barca’s progression and they came hot-on-the-heels of a double in the thumping 6-0 win at Elche last weekend.
The Brazilian is a tasty 7/2 to open the scoring against a Villarreal side that let defender Gabriel leave for Arsenal this week.
For Marcelino’s men, leading scorer Luciano Vietto is 10/1 to score first and new recruit Joel Campbell, on-loan from Arsenal until the end of the season, is 16/1 to score his maiden Villarreal goal.
Given the attacking nature of both teams, goals will be expected at the Camp Nou and for both to find the back of the net odds of 4/5 are offered.
The rest of La Liga
Hit-and-miss Rayo Vallecano and struggling Deportivo La Coruna kick things off at Vallecas on Friday night.
Rayo’s form has been indifferent of late, picking up crucial wins against Getafe and Real Sociedad in recent weeks but suffering four straight home defeats.
Paco Jemez’s men will be confident of ending that run against a Depor side that have not won in their last eight away games in all competitions and that have scored just once in their last five games on their travels. Odds of 8/11 for Rayo to bag the three points reflect that.
Top-scorer Leo Baptistao is expected to return to the starting eleven in place of Manucho and the Atletico Madrid loan man is 9/2 to open the scoring and bag his eighth Spanish football league goal of the campaign.
Atletico Madrid will look to bounce back from their midweek Copa del Rey exit when they visit Basque success story Eibar on Saturday afternoon.
Diego Simeone’e side are 53/93 for the win but Gaizka Garitano’s men will look to take advantage of Atleti’s cup efforts and get back to winning ways after slumping to a 1-0 defeat at local rivals Real Sociedad this week.
Longer odds of 51/10 are available for Eibar to continue their fairytale with a big scalp at Ipurua.
The visitors are expected to have Koke fit to return after missing the cup clash with Barca and Diego Godin will strengthen things at the back as he comes back in from suspension.
Croatian Mario Mandzukic is expected to come in for cup star Fernando Torres and the striker is 7/5 to score at anytime.
Elche have a trio of suspensions to contend with for the trip to Granada with Domingo Cisma, Faycal Fajr and top-scorer Jonathas all banned for the clash at the wrong end of La Liga.
Fran Escriba’s side had won back-to-back league matches before being hit for six by Barcelona last weekend and they will be out to put that right against a Granada side without a win since September.
Elche are 17/5 to get back to winning ways and continue their hosts’ miserable form.
Abel Resino is still looking for his first win as Granada boss but he did manage a point at Depor last weekend.
Elche’s suspensions will help matters and for the Andalusians to finally taste success odds of 81/89 are available.
Celta Vigo and Cordoba wrap things up on Saturday at Bailaidos in a match both sides will be looking to win to climb away from any relegation danger.
The Andalusians are the form side, despite slipping to a slender defeat against Real Madrid last weekend.
That should only act to inspire them to a victory at 6/1 against a Celta side that have lost eight of their last nine league matches. The Galicians only lose narrowly, however, and for the visitors to edge it 1-0 offers 13/1.
Nabil Ghilas scored against Madrid last weekend and is the team’s top-scorer with six goals so far this term. He is 10/1 to open the scoring and make it a lucky seven while former Manchester United flop Bebe, who is on-loan from Benfica and shone against Ancelotti’s men last weekend, is 10/0 to score first.
Athletic Bilbao have endured a tough Liga campaign but will go into Sunday’s game at Levante buoyed by their cup quarter-final success against Malaga in midweek.
The Basques have failed to win in their last seven league matches but have enjoyed better success against Levante with three wins in their last three matches against the Valencia club. Athletic are 5/4 to make it four on the spin and top-scorer Aritz Aduriz will be expected to find the goals at 15/8.
He will be helped by the return of Iker Muniain returning from suspension to provide the ammunition.
Lucas Alcaraz’s men have been a relatively tough nut to crack on home soil but they only managed to take a point from their of their last three home matches. For another stalemate odds of 41/20 are available.
Almeria will be out to close the gap on Getafe in the battle for Primera Division survival when they welcome the Madrid club to the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterraneos on Sunday afternoon in a proverbial ‘six pointer’.
Getafe ended a three-match losing run with victory over Celta Vigo last time while the hosts go into the contest on the back of their own three-match losing streak. They have also lost their last five home league fixtures, meaning Quique Flores’ side will fancy their chances of all three points at 9/4.
A point may be the best the hosts can salvage as they go into the game in a terrible run of form. Odds of 41/20 are on offer for a stalemate.
Sevilla will have an instant opportunity to make amends for their Copa del Rey exit at the hands of Espanyol when they welcome the Barcelona club to the Sanchez Pizjuan for the second time in four days on Sunday.
Unai Emery’s men bowed out at the quarter-final stage 3-2 on aggregate but did beat the Catalans in the second leg, albeit not being enough to turn the tie around. Sevilla are 8/13 to dish out some revenge to Sergio’s side and also bounce back from suffering their first league loss since November last weekend against Valencia.
Colombian Carlos Bacca leads the goal chart for Sevilla and at 7/2 he is a good bet to open the scoring and make it 13 league goals for the season so far.
Lucas Vasquez is in good form for Espanyol and he is 4/1 to score anytime after finding the back of the net in the 3-1 cup win over the Andalusians earlier this month.
Fourth-placed Valencia will look to put some space between them and the chasing Champions League pack when they visit sixth-placed Malaga on Monday night.
Los Che leapfrogged Sevilla into fourth with a 3-1 victory over Unai Emery’s side last weekend and will look to stay there. The Mestalla club are also now just three points behind third-placed Atletico Madrid.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s men are 7/4 to win at La Rosaleda against a Malaga side that have not enjoyed a home win in La Liga since mid-December and who go into the game on the back of a midweek cup defeat against Athletic Bilbao.
Paco Alcacer celebrated a new contract with Valencia this week and he is 11/2 to top things off nicely with the opening goal on the Costa Del Sol. Daniel Parejo has also been in some good form and is 9/1 to score first and make it eight for the season in La Liga.