No sooner have the Christmas and New Year festivities finished, than we are straight back into La Liga action.

With Barcelona an incredible nine points clear after an astonishing run of favourable results on the last weekend before the winter break, Ernesto Valverde can afford to employ some rotation to keep his squad fresh.

With Copa del Rey fixtures throughout every midweek in January, using as many players as possible is paramount.

A home game in the league against Levante shouldn’t cause the Blaugrana too many problems, though it is sandwiched between two tough cup ties against Celta Vigo. The following weekend (Jan 14) is where Barca’s rivals will be looking for them to drop points.

A trip to the Anoeta and a date with Real Sociedad is almost always fraught with problems. Safely negotiate that test and the Blaugrana will really be in a position to ram home their advantage.

That’s something they might be able to do with the addition of Philippe Coutinho to their line-up. The Spanish daily’s note that his family are now looking for a home in the area and BetVictor have suspended their market for him to make a January move from Liverpool to Barcelona.


The most pressure at the beginning of the year is surely on Zinedine Zidane’s shoulders, his Real Madrid side completely outplayed in El Clasico. That 3-0 reverse put Los Blancos 14 points behind the Catalans and to many observers, the current champions are already out of the race to retain their title.

However, until it’s mathematically impossible to win it, Real’s players will give everything. They couldn’t open 2018 with a tougher couple of games mind. Six points are needed from Celta away and Villarreal at home, but given the form Real are in, that’s by no means a given.

Any further points dropped, despite their game in hand, and Sergio Ramos might just as well hand deliver the trophy to the Camp Nou.

Clearly, Real need a proven goalscorer, and they’ve made no secret of their admiration for Harry Kane. All the noises coming out of north London are that the player is happy there and he isn’t for sale… but the same was said about Gareth Bale, Luka Modric…

BetVictor have Kane at odds of to make the move to the Santiago Bernabeu before the winter window closes.


Speaking of Bale, though Real need reinforcements rather than letting players go, a sale to Manchester United before the end of the window – currently with BetVictor – would allow them to stockpile funds for a summer assault on bringing Neymar in from PSG.

Atletico Madrid aren’t expected to do any more incoming business because Diego Costa and Vitolo can finally pull on the rojiblanco shirt in earnest.

Any transfers will be out of the Wanda Metropolitano, with Luciano Vietto expected to be the first (to Sporting), but not the last.



Odds are correct at the time of posting

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