La Liga Preview: Gameweek 76 min read
Last weekend, La Liga didn’t go according to plan. There were goals galore from teams that usually poke their heads tentatively out of their shells, as well as back-to-back clean sheets for Real Betis, but certain things have remained consistent across the campaign so far. Barcelona victories, Real Madrid struggling to find the form at home, and Sevilla scraping three points in games where their performances levels deserved less. Los Blancos need to bounce back at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday, as Zinedine Zidane’s men are running out of excuses.
Sevilla vs Malaga
Eduardo Berizzo may have racked up a record number of points for a new Sevilla coach, but the reality has been anything but simple for Los Nervionenses so far in LaLiga. Their commitments across both domestic and European competitions have left them with the need to rotate regularly, with their Argentine coach getting similar criticism with regard to changes as he did in his final campaign at Celta Vigo.
Sevilla have opened up their league campaign with seven points from a possible nine at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, but they certainly haven’t been romping to big wins. A 1-1 draw with Espanyol and a narrow 1-0 victory over Las Palmas demonstrate that teams can come to Andalucia and try and scrape a share of the spoils.
Malaga are still looking for their first win of the season, with Michel having trouble with helping his side recover from losing key players like Ignacio Camacho, Sandro Ramirez and Pablo Fornals during the summer. Diego Rolan has come in on loan from Bordeaux and has looked bright up front in his first two appearances for Los Boquerones. Two goals last time out versus Athletic Club suggest that he has got the potential to cause a slow Sevilla back line some issues with his pace.
Sevilla to Win and Both Teams to Score
Diego Rolan to Score Anytime
Real Madrid vs Espanyol
Espanyol have been finding their feet in their last few LaLiga outings, and a trip to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu doesn’t quite hold the same fear factor as it did last season. Real Madrid are struggling to get their performances right in front of demanding home fans, with Levante and Valencia managing to draw in the Spanish capital recently. Real Betis also picked up a 1-0 win from Los Blancos’ last home league game.
95’ ⏱⚽️ FULL TIME!!!!!!!!
— Real Betis Balompié (at 🏠) (@RealBetis_en) September 20, 2017
The away side haven’t conceded in the first half in their last three top-flight games, which means that there should be good value found in the half-time draw/full-time home win market. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale will have gained confidence from their midweek Champions League away win versus Borussia Dortmund, so the underlying feeling is that Zinedine Zidane’s men can get back to winning ways this weekend.
It won’t be easy, however. Espanyol like to sit very deep, remain very compact and then hit teams on the counter-attack. Real Madrid have struggled to break teams down that play this way at times this season, and for that reason, it may be a hard-fought three points rather than a romp. If the Catalan club can get into the half-time break unscathed, as they have recently, the hosts may just need a late goal or two in order to tip the balance.
Half Time Draw – Full-Time Real Madrid
Under 3.5 Goals
Barcelona vs Las Palmas
Barcelona are still maintaining their 100-per-cent record in LaLiga, and that particular run doesn’t look to be in any danger of petering out anytime soon. Ernesto Valverde has been rotating his team delicately to ensure that they remain fresh, while also taking on his ideas as a new coach, and thus far he has got the balance absolutely right at Camp Nou.
The hosts have scored eleven goals in their last two home games in the Spanish top flight, with Las Palmas renowned for being poor on their travels. Last season they managed just one victory outside of Gran Canaria, and this weekend Pako Ayestaran is facing his first game as their new coach. Barca should be confident of capitalising upon that very fact.
Lionel Messi netted four goals in Barcelona’s 6-1 win over Eibar last week and already has nine LaLiga goals to his name in just six appearances. The Argentina international star has been in blistering form and should be backed to score two or more goals against a team that will struggle to cope with the Blaugrana defensively. This very same fixture ended with a 5-0 scoreline last campaign, and it should be set to go the same way again.
Over 4.5 Goals
Messi to Score 2 or More Goals