La Liga Matchweek 15 Preview: Ronaldo’s Ballon d’Or Win To drive Real To Victory7 min read
Nobody seems too keen on sewing up LaLiga at present, with last weekend bringing with it some real surprises. Barcelona, Valencia and Real Madrid all dropped points in their respective league games, meaning that the top five teams in the Spanish top flight find themselves within eight points of one another. A poor few games could easily see some of the favourites for the title dragged back down into the chasing pack. Can the 5-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo help get Real back on track?
This weekend brings with it three tough games for all but one of the top four, with Sevilla travelled to Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Barcelona making the trip to Villarreal and Valencia hosting Celta Vigo. As far as potential banana skins go, all three games should be competitive and fiery, with a lot of quality on show. That being said, the best value lies in backing the favourites to go about their business and stay on course in the title race.
Real Madrid v Sevilla
Sevilla have won just one of their last five LaLiga away games, with Los Nervionenses high league position being more down to their phenomenal form in Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan that anywhere else. Although the visitors failed to score against Atletico Madrid, Athletic and Valencia earlier in the season, recent weeks have seen some improvements and goals versus both Barcelona and Villarreal have followed.
Cristiano Ronaldo was awarded his fifth Ballon d’Or this week, and will likely want to cap that achievement with a goal. The Portugal international has been firing well in the Champions League, but he needs to translate that into consistency in the league. Zinedine Zidane is missing the likes of Casemiro, Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane at the weekend, which should mean Los Blancos are leaky at the back, but with the firepower they have at their disposal, they should be capable of taking all three points and keeping pace with the top two.
Real Madrid to Win and Both Teams to Score
Cristiano Ronaldo to Score, Clement Lenglet to get booked and Real Madrid to Win
Valencia v Celta Vigo
Despite losing their first game of the league season last weekend against Getafe, Mestalla remains a fortress under Marcelino. Valencia are yet to lose there under their latest coach, and despite some injuries to the likes of Goncalo Guedes, Jeison Murillo and Ezequiel Garay, they still have a lot of quality. Simone Zaza, Rodrigo and Santi Mina have all been sharp in front of goal this season, and that won’t change any time soon.
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) December 3, 2017
Celta Vigo will be confident of causing the hosts some problems, after drawing 2-2 at Camp Nou last weekend, and injuries to key Valencia centre backs will only boost that feeling. Iago Aspas has eight league goals to his name, with Maxi Gomez contributing seven, but despite their impressive goalscoring form, Los Che have a real resilience and grit when playing in front of their home support. After dropping points last week, Valencia can’t afford to do the same again.
Valencia to Win
Real Betis v Atletico Madrid
Real Betis find themselves in crisis mode heading into the weekend, with Quique Setien’s style of football not quite going as smoothly as hoped recently. A long-term injury to key striker Tony Sanabria hasn’t helped their cause, but there is no hiding from the real problem – they are abysmal defensively. Zouhair Feddal may return from injury at centre back, but otherwise the hosts look very frail indeed.
Antoine Griezmann has been sidelined with a hamstring problem for Atleti, but this should be a chance for others to prove their worth. Angel Correa and Kevin Gameiro have been been among the goals this season and will likely create a partnership up top, and there is no better place to fill your boots at the moment than against Betis. Although their form at home has been quite impressive, Atleti arrive unbeaten in LaLiga and with a point to prove after being knocked out of the Champions League.
— AS English @ 🏡 (@English_AS) December 7, 2017
Atletico Madrid to Win and Over 2.5 Goals
Villarreal v Barcelona
Villarreal have had a nightmare couple of weeks under Javi Calleja, with two late defeats against Sevilla and Leganes seeing all of their good first-half work unravel in LaLiga. Midweek, the Yellow Submarine took the chance to play a lot of young players and rotation options in the Europa League, which should mean that the hosts are fresh and ready to go this weekend. After losing late twice, however, mentally there could be a bit of weakness there ready for Barcelona to exploit.
Given their strong first-half performance of late, and the fact that Carlos Bacca and Cedric Bakambu have looked sharp this season, there is every chance that Villarreal are capable of getting their noses in front. Throw in the fact that Samuel Umtiti will likely be sidelined until February and Barca are without their best central defender of the season so far. Ernesto Valverde’s men have a habit of riding out tough games and finding a goal when they need one, and that may be the route to victory once again at La Ceramica on Sunday evening.
Barcelona to Win and Both Teams to Score
Barcelona to Win from behind