OMG it’s the half way stage! It’s comforting for some, challenging for others but overall there’s still time to save your bacon or even climb up into those cherished European spots, even if means playing on Thursday nights next year. Even Barcelona might show themselves mortal again, after losing this week to Levante in the cup. Down in the nether regions Huesca and Rayo have also begun to show signs of life, meaning that those just above them begin to tremble.
This is indeed a more competitive league than on previous occasions, and no single club looks doomed at this stage. Indeed, you get the feeling that this season will require the classic 40 points for survival, a total not required in recent seasons. What will the champions need? Ask Barcelona, who sit five points clear going into their half-way stage match and they’ll tell you the same or more than they managed in the first half, with 4 draws and 2 defeats to blemish their record. In summary – there’s still a lot to play for.
Shall we? Remember, it’s ‘1’ for a home win, ‘X’ for a draw and ‘2’ for an away win.
- Rayo (19th) vs Celta (14th): 1. (Fri, 21:00)
Rayo appear to be getting to grips with things, just when it was looking decidedly ropey. Two wins on the trot now and a particularly good result at Valladolid last week have set them up nicely for this one, against a Celta side who still don’t convince, especially without Aspas. He’s still out, but the return of Beltrán to his Rayo cradle should have the fans baying, possibly for blood. Rayo to keep things going. Home win.
- Leganés (16th) vs Huesca (20th): 1. (Sat, 13:00)
Without a win in four (although three of them have been draws) folks are beginning to finger Leganés as the side who will decline in the 2nd half of the season. Could this (therefore) be the game of the two teams going in opposite directions in the left? Possibly. Huesca have had some bad luck up to now, playing better than their results have suggested (remember their performance at home to Real Madrid?), but it’s results that count. Their recent mini-revival needs to be consolidated, and this one is a dog-eat-dog. My feeling is that Leganés will feel the urgency and win it. Home win.
- Valencia (12th) vs Valladolid (15th): X. (Sat, 16:15)
Two of the league’s three ‘v’ teams meet at a difficult juncture. You’d expect Valencia to win, but we’ve been expecting them to win all season and they continue to confound. Losing 2-1 at 2nd Division Sporting in the cup in midweek didn’t help either, and the fans are starting to get restless – and they tend to be anyway in the Mestalla. They lost at Alavés last week, which wasn’t entirely surprising but they’ll struggle to score against a Valladolid team who are very organized, if a little uninspired themselves at present. Draw – probably 0-0.
- Girona (9th) vs Alavés (4th ): X. (Sat, 18:30)
Interesting one this. Alavés – despite the blow of losing Ibai Gomez, would love to finish off the first half of the season by showing that they can maintain their nosebleed position, whereas Girona need to win to get a better sight of those Euro places. They’re putting together some good performances and are hard to beat. They played well against Atlético in midweek in the cup. Tricky one this, but I think that they’ll cancel each other out. Scoring draw.
Villarreal (18th) vs Getafe (7th): 1. (Sat- 20:45)
Like the other ‘v’ team above, Villarreal have been a huge disappointment and now occupy a relegation spot. So accustomed have we become to considering them a major side in Spain it beggars belief that they’re down there. Their home record is very poor, with only one home win and Getafe won’t be looking to do them any favours having climbed into a very respectable 7th position. They’ve won four on their travels and conceded a measly six goals. Villarreal haven’t won in five, and only Betis have failed to take points from La Cerámica this season. But it’s crisis time. I think they’ll start to turn the tide, with Getafe having played three games in seven days. If Villarreal don’t win, I’ll never expect them to do so again. Home win.
- Atlético (2nd) vs Levante (10th): 1. (Sun- 12:00)
Levante are turning out to the season’s entertainers, having been concerned in more goals, for and against, then anyone save Barcelona. But they’re a bit leaky at the back and Atlético aren’t. is that a good reason to say home win? Yes, probably. Atlético can’t afford any slip-ups, with Barça on two consecutive home games.
Athletic (17th) vs Sevilla (3rd): 2. (Sun – 16.15)
Athletic will be excited about playing on Sunday for a change, and it might get them going – but curiously enough this will be the second game between them in the space of four days, Sevilla having won at San Mamés (1-3) on Thursday in the cup. The personnel changes will take effect, but Athletic’s recent revival still looks flimsy. I’m going for an away win, because Sevilla need to stay in the chase. Aduriz is injured, but Ibai Gomez might make his debut.
- Barcelona (1st) vs Eibar (13th): X. (Sun – 18:30)
Barcelona lost in midweek in the cup, and they’ve tended to struggle against Eibar. It’s the sort of game that Eibar look forward to and Barcelona don’t. Marc Cucurella is allowed to play against his employers, and has been sensational for Eibar this season, and you get the feeling that if Barcelona are going to mess up at home, it’s this one that’s ringing the alarm bells. I’m sticking my neck out. Draw.
- Betis (6th) vs Real Madrid (5th): 2. (Sun – 20:45)
Betis are suffering a wee drop in form, and failed to beat Real Sociedad at home in midweek in the cup, but Madrid will motivate anyone. One place behind the visitors, the hosts won’t climb above them if they win, but this could be a great game for Sunday night. Absolutely anything could happen, and I’ve no idea. Betis lost to Huesca last week, but Real Madrid almost did too. It’s hard to read them. I’ll go for an away win, because RM tend to get it together just when all seems to be lost – witness their poor game last week at home to Real Sociedad. I think they’ll win it – just.
- Real Sociedad (11th) vs Espanyol (8th): 1. (Mon – 21:00)
Monday night’s game and I’ll miss it (I’ll be in Paris), but since Garitano left I’ve had a good feeling about things, confirmed by the solid 2nd half display at Betis in midweek. Espanyol can be tricky, but they won’t enjoy being in Anoeta on a cold Monday night. Home win.
Last week: – (%)
Season: 59/150 (37%)
- Rayo (19th) vs Celta (14th):
- Leganés (16th) vs Huesca (20th):
- Valencia (12th) vs Valladolid (15th):
- Girona (9th) vs Alavés (4th ):
- Villarreal (18th) vs Getafe (7th):
- Atlético (2nd) vs Levante (10th):
- Athletic (17th) vs Sevilla (3rd):
- Barcelona (1st) vs Eibar (13th):
- Betis (6th) vs Real Madrid (5th):
- Real Sociedad (11th) vs Espanyol (8th):