Real Madrid under pressure in chase for the title
Real Madrid are having a relatively torrid time of late and will look to end a three-game run in all competitions without a win when Levante visit the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday night.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men have thrown away a four-point lead at the top of La Liga in recent weeks and could trail Barcelona by the same amount come Sunday with the Catalans expected to breeze to victory at struggling Eibar.
Madrid president Florentino Perez held an impromptu press conference on Thursday to deny claims Ancelotti would be sacked if he did not win next weekend’s crucial Clasico clash at the Camp Nou and he also called for unity at the Bernabeu.
That could mean bad news for Levante, with odds of 1/10 mirroring an expectancy that Madrid will take their frustrations out on the Valencian side.
Ancelotti and his men will want to win in emphatic fashion to raise spirits ahead of next weekend’s match against Barcelona and for the hosts to win by more than two goals you can get odds of 8/15.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in a 5-0 away win in the reverse fixture and longer odds of 31/4 for Madrid to win by the same scoreline may be more tempting.
The former Manchester United forward, who also scored twice to save Madrid in their 4-3 Champions League loss to Schalke, is 9/4 to score first and Gareth Bale will look to respond to criticism with his first goal in ten games. The former Tottenham Hotspur man is 4/1 to open the scoring.
For those with a more daring side, Levante, a side who have been in hit-and-miss form of late, are 12/1 to pile more woe on Madrid and leave the Spanish capital with a share of the spoils. Striker David Barral has scored five goals in his last six matches and is 7/2 to score at anytime against his former club.
Barca looking to cement their place at the summit
Barcelona go into the weekend as league leaders for the first time in 2015 and they should have few problems cementing their place at the top when they visit an Eibar side that have lost their last seven league matches.
Luis Enrique will be without the suspended Dani Alves and Jordi Alba, as well as the injured Sergio Busquets, and he could also make some changes to his team ahead of next Wednesday’s Champions League clash against Manchester City.
Barca are 2/13 for an expected three points but the fact they have scored at least three goals in eight of their last nine league matches mean victory by a big margin will be likely against one of he worst sides in La Liga on current form.
A 3-0 win for the leaders is 43/10 and for Barcelona to be winning at half-time and full-time at Ipurua is 4/11.
Neymar missed all the fun in the 6-1 thrashing of Rayo Vallecano last time out but the Brazilian is expected to return to the starting eleven following his one-match ban and is 7/2 to break the deadlock. Freescoring Lionel Messi will not be rested and he is 13/5 to add to last week’s hat-trick, while former Liverpool man Luis Suarez is 3/1 to score first.
The rest of the betting from La Liga
Valencia will fancy their chances of breaking into the top three when they kick this weekend’s action off at the Mestalla against Deportivo La Coruna on Friday night.
Los Che are unbeaten in five matches and took a commendable point at top-three rivals Atletico Madrid last time out. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side are expected to leapfrog Atleti into third, for 24 hours at least, and are 4/11 to see off the Galicians.
Shkodran Mustafi and Javi Fuego will both miss out for the hosts through suspension but that should matter little for a side who have won their last six home matches in La Liga.
Deportivo have also failed to score in seven of their last eight away games in the league and for only Valencia to find the back of the net on Friday night brings 5/8.
Atletico Madrid will get the chance to reply to Valencia’s result when they visit Espanyol on Saturday afternoon but they will have to do it without 12-goal man Mario Mandzukic, who is suspended for the trip to Catalonia.
Diego Simeone will be boosted by the return of top-scorer Antoine Griezmann, however, and the Frenchman is 9/2 to score first and make it 15 for the season in La Liga. He will be joined in attack by former Chelsea and Liverpool man Fernando Torres, who is 5/1 to bag his first league goal since returning to the club.
Atleti have only won one of their last five fixtures in all competitions so a tight game is expected at the Power8 Stadium. A one-goal winning margin for the visitors, at 49/20, is not a bad bet.
Rayo Vallecano will look to make it three home wins on the spin and in turn ease their relegation fears with victory over struggling Granada at Vallecas on Saturday night.
The Andalusians arrive in the Spanish capital on the back of a morale-boosting 1-0 win against Malaga but that was only their second win in 22 league matches.
Paco Jemez’s side are 19/20 to bag all three points and will be in confident mood thanks to victories over Levante and Villarreal in their previous home matches.
Alberto Bueno scored four goals in that win against Levante and he is 5/1 to score first. He also scored in the defeat at Barcelona last weekend and is the leading Spanish goalscorer in the division.
An evenly-fought contest lies in wait in Galicia on Saturday night when two form sides in Celta Vigo and Athletic Bilbao go head-to-head.
Celta lost at Villarreal last time out but have enjoyed a big upturn in results in recent months, while Athletic have won their last three league matches, including a big victory against Real Madrid last weekend.
At 12/5, a draw looks well placed and a low-scoring one, too, given the visitors have kept a clean sheet in each of their last four matches. A 1-1 scoreline looks tempting at 23/5 given how tight both sides have been at the back of late.
Aritz Aduriz has been the man of the moment for the Basques and he is 6/1 to open the scoring with his 11th league goal of the campaign.
At 1/1, Villarreal look good odds to collect all three points at relegation-threatened Almeria on Sunday lunchtime.
The Yellow Submarines may have played their Europa League match only three days before but Marcelino’s men should have too much for an Almeria side that have not won in four. Villarreal showed they can cope with the midweek European matches when they took a point from the Bernabeu after their last one and they will be eager to bounce back from their loss to Sevilla on Thursday.
A two-goal winning margin should be achievable at 9/2 for the visitors and star man Luciano Vietto is 4/1 to score first.
Cordoba’s fate looks all-but sealed despite the season only being in March as the Andalusians sit rock bottom of the division with seven straight defeats behind them.
The basement club visit Malaga on Saturday and the Costa del Sol side need to win to keep their European hopes on track. They look a good bet for the victory at 3/5.
A winning margin of more than two goals also looks possible at 41/10 against a team sapped of confidence and staring relegation in the face.
Juanmi has been scoring the Malaga goals of late and he is 9/2 to open the scoring on Sunday.
Sevilla are one of the clubs looking to hold Malaga off for the European places and at 4/11, Unai Emery’s men are favourites to see off Elche at the Sanchez Pizjuan on Sunday.
Elche picked up an important win against Almeria in their battle against the drop last weekend and will look to take advantage of any tired legs from Sevilla after their Europa League clash with Villarreal on Thursday night. The visitors are 18/5 to nick a point.
Top-scorer Jonathas is 10/1 to hand the visitors a shock lead while Carlos Bacca, Sevilla’s top-scorer, is 16/5. Sevilla should also be boosted by their 3-1 Europe League victory at Villarreal.
Real Sociedad are still looking for their first away win under former Manchester United and Everton boss David Moyes and will look to end their hoodoo on their travels at Getafe on Monday night.
La Real are 47/20 to bag their first away win under the Scotsman but on paper and current form a draw, at 9/4, looks the most probable outcome in the Spanish capital.
Getafe beat Espanyol last time out on home soil and also won at Cordoba last weekend. Alvaro Vazquez has been the man finding the goals and has three in his last three matches.