Liverpool FC: Christmas Crack Me Up Challenge
LaLiga presses on, lodged in between Copa del Rey semi-final clashes and European commitments, with Barcelona still sitting unbeaten at its summit. The likes of Atletico Madrid, Valencia and Real Madrid are trying to piece together consistent enough form to not allow Ernesto Valverde’s squad to run away with the trophy quite yet, but in reality it is looking tough to avoid.
Getafe face the unenviable trip to Camp Nou this weekend, while Real Madrid host a hot-and-cold Real Sociedad. Valencia follow up Copa del Rey disappointment with their local derby versus Levante, with the visitors fresh off the back of taking a point from Zinedine Zidane’s men, while Deportivo La Coruna’s new boss Clarence Seedorf has to pit his wits against Real Betis coach Quique Setien.
Los Blancos’ form at the Santiago Bernabeu has been extremely hit and miss over recent months. It is certainly not the fortress that it was last season, with Real Madrid’s last three matches in the Spanish capital seeing them lose twice. Barcelona and Villarreal have shown that Zidane’s men can be silenced at their own ground, with the pair keeping clean sheets in their victories, but Real Sociedad cannot profess to be able to set up well and shut out a talented opponent.
Eusebio’s men are very poor at the back, with their goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli having his worst season since joining the Basque club. They have kept one clean sheet in their last six attempts on the road, with that solitary shut out coming against an Athletic Bilbao side that have trouble breaking other teams down themselves.
Villarreal put four past La Real recently, with the likes of Getafe, Levante, Deportivo and Celta Vigo managing at least two goals when hosting them this campaign. Real Madrid are low on confidence and have one eye on the Champions League, but this is a good opportunity to try and fill their boots. Cristiano Ronaldo and company certainly need the morale boost.
Over 4.5 Goals 13/10
#PriceItUp – 90 mins: Real Madrid to Win, Cristiano Ronaldo to Score and Over 2.5 Goals 4/7
Given that Barcelona are 22 games into an unbeaten league campaign, there isn’t too much value to be found in Getafe arriving in Catalonia and being on the wrong end of the scoreline at Camp Nou. Valverde’s side haven’t lost in 27 consecutive LaLiga home games, and that record doesn’t look set to be threatened too viciously over the coming days. Jose Bordalas’ outfit are far more threatening at home than they are on the road.
Barca have kept six clean sheets in their last seven home fixtures, with their defensive record one of the best in the division. Although Samuel Umtiti is suspended for the weekend, the Blaugrana have adequate cover and should be able to defend through having far more of the ball than their opponent. Getafe are winless in their last eight in a row in the Spanish top flight, and they have failed to score in three of their last four away outings. A comfortable home victory is the only place to look.
Barcelona to Win to Nil 3/4
Marcelino’s side come into this clash having lost their last six matches in all competitions. Injuries have hampered their progress both in the league and the cup, with Los Che now having just one target in mind: qualifying for the Champions League. This local derby will obviously mean a lot in terms of bragging rights, but the bigger picture is that the hosts are in desperate need of a result to start turning their fortunes around. Simone Zaza hasn’t scored in his last 10 outings, but Santi Mina is in excellent form.
Valencia have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last five attempts at Mestalla in LaLiga, with key defender Ezequiel Garay picking up a hamstring injury on Thursday night to add to their current woes. Levante, meanwhile, have scored in their last three consecutive league outings and even managed two versus Real Madrid last weekend. Given that Valencia are light on central defenders and considering that this should be a fierce derby clash, both teams hitting the back of the net looks likely.
Valencia to Win and Both Teams to Score 2/1
#PriceItUp – 90 Mins: 2/1
Clarence Seedorf hasn’t had long to get to know his new squad, after being appointed as Deportivo’s new boss in the wake of the club’s 5-0 thrashing from Real Sociedad and the subsequent sacking of Cristobal. The Dutchman welcomes Real Betis to Riazor for his managerial debut in Galicia, with both sides struggling to keep things tight at the back. Depor haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last seven attempts in LaLiga, but they need to keep fighting if they are to clamber out of the relegation zone in the coming weeks.
Betis, meanwhile, have conceded 45 goals across 22 match days. Given that Depor have let in the most in the division, at a whopping 51, it is clear that creating chances will be far less of a problem than conceding them in the first place. Goals are looking very likely in the north of Spain, with this match promising to be a better watch for the neutral than any fans that have a vested interest in the outcome.
Over 3.5 Goals 6/4