Last week: 3/10 (30%)
Season: 76/169 (44%)
It’s been a hectic week, with the apocalyptic Madrid-PSG clash, and next week promises to be doubly interesting with Chelsea and Man Utd both taking on Liga opposition, in the guise of Barça and Sevilla respectively. This weekend’s fixtures look almost like a rest-stop, with no massively significant games jumping out to catch the attention, save perhaps the Eibar v Barcelona fixture. I’m on my way to Vienna, so on Sunday night I’ll pass the mantle on to Eduardo and rattle off a quick quiniela, the way I see it. Eduardo got a massive 3/10 last week, but he did stick his neck out somewhat, which is the only way you’ll ever win any money, if that’s what you also do at the weekend.
As Robert Storm Peterson, the Danish humourist once said of this sort of activity, ‘Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future’. Personally, my favourite is by Lao Tzu (of course you’d heard of him) which goes, ‘Those who have knowledge don’t predict. Those who predict, don’t have knowledge’. He could well be right, but hey, where’s the fun in that? Shall we?
1. Girona (10th) vs Leganés (12th): 1 (Friday- 21:00)
Man City reserves (Girona) couldn’t quite hack it last week at Sevilla, but they didn’t play at all badly, and can still dream of catching their vanquishers from last week, who sit in the final European place, five points above the Catalan newcomers. The visit of Leganés pits a hard-working and well-organised outfit against another hard-working and organised outfit, with the home side just ahead on talent. I’ll go for a home win, but it’ll be a close-run thing, and possibly not one for the purists. Leganés lost at home to Eibar last week, in another pit-bull v pit-bull encounter, and you just sense that they’re losing their edge.
2. Las Palmas (18th) vs Sevilla (6th): x (Saturday- 13:00)
Eduardo was very brave to predict Las Palmas winning last week at Athletic, and although they didn’t, the draw is evidence of their improvement. After their stuffing at Girona 5 weeks ago (6-0), they seem to have done the classic pulling-up of-the-socks and have only lost on one occasion since. Sevilla don’t travel so well (8 defeats from 12). It’s a draw for me.
- Eibar (7th) vs Barcelona (1st): x (Saturday- 16:15)
I like the look of this one, and would certainly have gone along to the game had I been around. Eibar are on fire, to quote a phrase, and Barcelona might be on the crest of their first slump, given last week’s surprising home draw to Getafe.
Barça don’t tend to get too distracted by up-and-coming European fare, but you can’t help thinking that they might be in two minds about this trip. Since Eibar came up, Barça have done well in Ipurua (Eibar have tended to put up better resistance in the Camp Nou), but the way the hosts are playing at the moment, with Orellana and Diop really bringing a greater depth to the side, and Pedro Leon on his way back, Barcelona will need to be careful. It will be interesting to see what sort of initial line-up they put out, not that they don’t have reserve in depth, but the cauldron of Ipurua (which holds about as many people as the number of stewards who attend a Camp Nou game) might unsettle them, at this tricky moment in the league and Champions. I’ll go for a scoring draw.
- Alavés (16th) vs Deportivo (19th): 1 (Saturday- 18:30)
Relegation-certainties apparent before Xmas, Alavés have responded wonderfully to new coach Abelardo, and are suddenly looking up towards mid-table safety, playing some good stuff into the bargain. Their win at Villarreal last week was the surprise result on the boards, and they’ve only lost one in their last five. Ibai is really playing well, and despite all the thumbs-down about ex-starlets Munir and Bojan, you really wouldn’t turn them away, would you? Ely and Alexis are good too, and they’re gained defensive solidity since Abelardo turned up. Their visitors Deportivo look awful, having picked up a massive two points from their last 8 games. You might argue that this is the game that they’ll win (because they must) but I can’t see it. Home win.
- Málaga (20th) vs Valencia (3rd) 2 (Saturday- 20:45)
Again, the sort of game where a betting-person would take a risk and predict a draw, largely because of need on the one hand (Málaga) and inconsistency on the other (Valencia). Málaga, still bottom after Michel’s tardy departure, are actually the consistent side of the two. If you look at their last 7 games, they’ve lost 5 of them 1-0, and drawn two (1-1 at Eibar and 0-0 at home to Girona) and with 14 goals scored all season, their problem is obvious. Valencia are the league’s third highest scorers, and know that they can’t afford to let Real Madrid nick their 3rd place. Away win for me.
- Sociedad (14th) vs Levante (17th): 1 (Sunday- 12:00)
I’ve watched Real’s last two games – the farce in the Bernabéu and the 2-2 draw with Salzburg on Thursday, and although the Austrian side’s two goals came from defensive errors (just for a change) there were signs of improvement, and some mixing-up of their approach, instead of the old slow tiki-taka that goes nowhere.
But Eusebio remains on the tightrope, and the truth is that Real need the distraction of the Europa League now like a boil on the bum. Levante are always awkward customers, but lack the quality to win this one, methinks. They haven’t actually won since the 19th November, and despite their heroic draw at home to Real Madrid recently, I think Sociedad (or should I say I hope) will nick this one, especially since I won’t be there. Januzaz is back, and he was pretty awesome on Thursday night.
- Atlético (2nd) vs Athletic (13th): 1 (Sunday- 16:15)
Both sides were playing in the Europa League on Thursday night (away) and they both won quite handsomely. So both feeling better, both tired? I’m not sure that Athletic have turned the corner yet, and they tend to suffer at Atlético. Easy home win for me. Atlético’s defence is looking awesome at the moment – still only 9 goals conceded this season.
- Espanyol (15th) vs Villarreal (5th): x (Sunday- 18:30)
Looks to me like a classic case of a draw, between two sides who can’t quite get things together. Espanyol have won 5 at home, and Villarreal have won 5 away. He visitors have more quality, but the home defeat to Sevilla notwithstanding (0-3) nobody has hammered Espanyol of late, and their results against Barcelona demonstrate a certain tactical shrewdness from their coach, Dr House. But they need a result. Scoring draw I reckon.
9. Betis (8th) vs Madrid (4th) x (Sunday- 20:45)
This could actually be a cracker, because Betis are playing some bonkers stuff this season, scoring and conceding in free flow, but doing okay despite it. With the young Loren looking like a star (although he might need to change his surname from Morón), Betis are kind of carefree, and looking safe. The same cannot be said of Real Madrid, who get a rest from their PSG epic but who need to confirm their improvement, if such it is. Betis can’t defend (although they’re improving in that facet of late) but Madrid are still wobbly, despite their morale-boosting result in midweek, on the back of their thrashing of Sociedad. Toni Kroos is out too. I’m going for a draw.
- Getafe (11th) vs Celta (9th): x (Monday- 21:00)
Another one that looks like a draw. It’s that Monday evening feeling, as opposed to any deep analysis on my part. Getafe have drawn their last four games, one of them at the Camp Nou) and whilst this has its virtues, Celta can beat anyone on their day. They’ve won 4 from the last 7, but only lost twice, and sit two points above their hosts with Europe a possible target. They’ll go for it, but Getafe’s stubborn back-line will stop them. Another draw.
- Girona (10th Leganés (12th) (Friday 21.00):
- Las Palmas (18th) Sevilla (6th) (Saturday- 13:00):
- Eibar (7th) Barcelona (1st) (Saturday- 16:15):
- Alavés (16th) Deportivo (19th) (Saturday- 18:30):
- Málaga (20th) Valencia (3rd) (Saturday- 20:45):
- Sociedad (14th) Levante (17th) (Sunday- 12:00):
- Atlético (2nd) Athletic (13th) (Sunday- 16:15):
- Espanyol (15th) Villarreal (5th) (Sunday- 18:30):
- Betis (8th) Madrid (4th) (Sunday- 20:45):
- Getafe (11th) Celta (9th) (Monday- 21:00):