La Liga Matchweek 14 Preview: Big Test Awaits Real Madrid at San Mames7 min read
Last weekend was a big chance for one of Valencia or Barcelona to slip up in LaLiga, but a 1-1 draw at Mestalla ensured that the status quo remains the same for another week at least. Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad are both being thrown into tough fixtures after disappointing midweek results against minnows in the Copa del Rey, and the gauntlet has been set for both big Madrid clubs to capitalise.
Meanwhile, in the lower reaches of the table, Quique Setien heads home to Gran Canaria. After spending plenty of time helping Las Palmas to make his vision of football a reality, the now-Betis coach will be pretty well armed with knowledge of how to dismantle his former employers on the field of play. It is a double-edged sword, but entertainment is set to be a guarantee when Real Betis fly out to do their best to win on an island that has had its fair share of footballing heartbreak recently.
Barcelona vs Celta Vigo
⛄️❄️? Wrapped up for winter training! #ForçaBarça pic.twitter.com/VVU8UTvfvx
— FC Barcelona (from ?) (@FCBarcelona) December 1, 2017
Consistency has been something that Celta Vigo have struggled to find this season, with Barcelona setting the standard in terms of grinding out consistent performances and points in La Liga so far. Ernesto Valverde’s side remain unbeaten and used the Copa del Rey fixtures midweek as an opportunity to rest the vast majority of their first-team faces. Gerard Pique is back from a ban, and things are looking very positive for the hosts, who can make it 19 home wins in a row in the league with three points against La Celeste.
The away side have got quality in offensive areas, with Iago Aspas and Maxi Gomez finding the back of the net regularly in the early stages of the season, but there is more than a chance that they will be found out defensively. Jonny is a key presence in Celta’s back four, but the left back misses out due to a ban, which should see central defender Facundo Roncaglia played out of position. Barca are fresh and raring to continue their great form into the domestic break.
#PriceItUp Latest – 90 mins: Barcelona to Win, Over 3.5 Goals, Paulinho to Score
Barcelona to Win and Both Teams to Score
Atletico Madrid vs Real Sociedad
Diego Simeone’s men are still unbeaten in La Liga this season, with a 5-0 victory against Levante last weekend the perfect shot of adrenaline in the final stretch before the January transfer window. Kevin Gameiro and Antoine Griezmann scored two apiece at Estadio Ciutat de Valencia, and those morale-boosting goals should carry them nicely into what could be a tough clash against Real Sociedad.
The away side are very good offensively, with Adnan Januzaj in terrific form out on the right wing, but it is at the back where the Basque side have their weaknesses. The hosts have plenty of pace in attack, with Griezmann, Gameiro and Correa capable of exploiting any gaps and putting La Real to the sword. Although Eusebio’s men will likely enjoy a lot of possession at the Wanda Metropolitano, it should be Los Colchoneros who take the three points in an entertaining affair in the Spanish capital.
Atletico Madrid to Win and Both Teams to Score
Athletic Club vs Real Madrid
Kuko Ziganda’s men come into this tough contest having won just one of their last 10 La Liga fixtures. After losing at the hands of third-tier side Formentera in the Copa del Rey in midweek, the pressure is certainly being piled upon the man who replaced Ernesto Valverde in the San Mames hot seat this summer. It is not an opportune time for a time of Real Madrid’s quality to pay them a visit.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema have been back among the goals recently for the away side, with Keylor Navas fit and ready to come back in to replace the unreliable Kiko Casilla. Despite Los Blancos slipping up against the likes of Atletico Madrid and Girona on the road lately, this is an opportunity to get back on track. Aside from their trip to the Wanda, they’ve scored in every away contest this campaign so far.
Real Madrid to Win and Both Teams to Score
Real Madrid to Win, Cristiano Ronaldo to Score and Casemiro to get booked
Las Palmas vs Real Betis
The home side have already gone through two coaches this season, with Manolo Marquez and Pako Ayestaran leaving in rather different situations. Las Palmas are languishing in the relegation zone and their defensive issues continue to plague them, but the style of play in Gran Canaria won’t be changing any time soon. Given that Quique Setien is returning to the club, this time as Betis boss, he knows only too well how the hosts can be hurt.
The away side have lost their last two on the road, against Espanyol and Eibar, but against a leaky defence such as Las Palmas’ they should have further joy. Both teams like to have the ball, but Betis’ are far more organised and know how to use possession in order to hurt their opponents. Sergio Leon has been misfiring of late, with Antonio Sanabria struggling with the odd injury problem, but this weekend should be a big opportunity to triumph against a team they can outscore.
Real Betis to Win and Both Teams to Score