OMG it’s Friday! Must be time for the quiniela, I remember when my dad won 50 pounds on the English football pools, back in about 1968. He bought his first car with it, a second-hand Standard 8.
The first day he decided to take it to work, it wouldn’t start. It didn’t start much for the next year either, which just goes to show that the pleasure in predicting football results is all about getting more predictions right than your mate, or than those other anonymous individuals who place their bets on Liga Fever. It’s not about the money, since we can only offer you international prestige. Last week Eduardo scored a spanking 7, and called some difficult ones in the process. Maybe it’s getting easier….who knows? I’ll try my best.
Shall we? Remember, it’s ‘1’ for a home win, ‘X’ for a draw and ‘2’ for an away win.
- Eibar (10th) vs Getafe (5th): X. (Fri, 21:00)
It’s the Friday night bash for Eibar, but they prefer it to Mondays. They’re on a decent run of four games undefeated, after their previous wobble, and are looking confident and boisterous. Then again, so are Getafe, which makes this an interesting game to kick off the week. Getafe have turned into the team that nobody loves with the president that everyone thinks is a dork, but they don’t care very much about that. Amazingly they’re 5th, and if Sevilla slip up at Villarreal (perfectly feasible) they’ll be in the Champions League spots. Nevertheless, Eibar are not likely to be intimidated by them. It’s a classic draw syndrome.
- Celta (16th) vs Levante (14th): 1. (Sat, 13:00)
Just when it seemed Celta were getting their act together (they beat Sevilla two weeks ago) they went and lost to Getafe in a calamitous and controversial game, and it has to be admitted that they were probably hard-done by. Whatever, they’re a mere point above the relegation zone and they need to win this one badly. They probably will with Iago Aspas back – which is just as well because Maxi Gomez is out suspended. Levante are looking on a downward slide to me, with only one win from the last eight. Home win.
- Rayo (18th) vs Atlético (3rd): 2. (Sat, 16:15)
I like the look of this one. Atlético entertain Juventus on Wednesday but their rather insipid defeat at home to Real Madrid last week makes it important that they don’t slip up, down the road at neighbours Rayo. The Marxists from Vallecas are, however, embroiled in their usual do-or-die circumstances. When was the last time that Rayo were in the mid-table slumbers of life? They’ve just lost two on the trot, albeit narrowly, but to sides (Espanyol and Leganés) who are fellow dog-fighters at the scary end of the table. Now they face Atlético, a side who aren’t easy to intimidate. I think they’ll have too much for the hosts, despite having an eye on Wednesday’s game. They simply have to win. Away win.
- Real Sociedad (9th) vs Leganés (11th ): 1. (Sat, 18:30)
I’ll be there tomorrow, before taking off to Austria for a few days – which is one of the reasons why Ed and I have swapped this weekend. Whatever, you’d expect Real to win this one, but Leganés won’t be any pushovers, as they demonstrated last week with their 3-0 dismissal of Betis. I saw the game, early-season, at Leganés, and although Real were adjusting painfully to a new coach (since dismissed) I liked certain aspects of Leganés’ play, and they sit in 11th place with plenty of motives to go for it. I’m not sure about this one – Illarramendi is out suspended, and unless Zurutuza can sort the midfield, it might be a struggle. I still think it’s a home win though – albeit narrowly.
Barcelona (1st) vs Valladolid (15th): 1. (Sat- 20:45)
Barça have the same problem as Atlético, and must travel to Lyon on Tuesday night for a tricky one in the Champions. Again, they’ll be rotating, one suspects, until the 60th minute when Messi comes on to unclutter the 0-0 scoreline. Valladolid can be well organized and perfectly capable of pulling off a shock result, but they’ve only won once in the last eight, and that 4-0 drubbing at Huesca recently still resonates. I can’t see it this weekend for Ronaldo’s boys. Home win.
- Real Madrid (2nd) vs Girona (17th): 1. (Sun- 12:00)
Girona are on the crest of a slump, and with Borja García and Stuani limping through training this week, Eusebio’s job is looking on the line – I must say surprisingly so. They seemed to be doing just fine again, but four straight losses and no wins in the last ten games tells its own story. Real Madrid seem to be back in one of their charmed periods, somehow resisting an excellent Ajax in midweek and stealing a very morale-boosting win in Amsterdam. It was a telling result, with Benz and Vinny once again the guilty partners. Benz, Bale and Vinny – it’s now the BBV, which sounds uncannily like a bank. Girona’s away record is actually better than their home one, but I’m afraid it’s obvious that RM will win, whether they’re tired or not.
Valencia (8th) vs Espanyol (12th): 2. (Sun – 16.15)
Espanyol picked themselves up from a corpse-like position last week and defeated Rayo, but anything else would have been pretty grave, to continue the metaphor. Valencia, on the other hand, are starting to look like a fine side indeed, despite last week’s frustrating draw at home to Real Sociedad – a game they really should have wrapped up in the second half but one in which they displayed that uncertainty in front of goal that dogged them up to Xmas. But when they get their mojo working, they look fast and scary, with Rodrigo, Guedes, Mina, Parejo, Gameiro….uuuf, as the Spanish say. They can look very good indeed. Too good for Espanyol, I fear. I still think they’ll finish close to, or even in, the Champions League spots. Home win.
Villarreal (19th) vs Sevilla (4th): X. (Sun – 18:30)
Eduardo keeps trying to motivate Villarreal, but in vain. Like me, he sees them as a better side than their position suggests, but in the end, despite the indecent haste of the return of a sacked manager, nothing seems to work. I think a longer article would be needed to analyse what has gone wrong, but Sevilla themselves are hardly a model of consistency. Amazingly, they’ve only won one league game from the last seven, and yet they remain in 4th place, but by the skin of their teeth,. They can look good at times too, but this weakness is keeping the league alive, helping about eight sides below to believe that the Champs League spot is still assailable. Not sure about this one though. The host’s situation is desperate, but so is their football. I think it’s a draw.
- Betis (7th) vs Alavés (6th): 1. (Sun – 20:45)
Betis are everybody’s see-saw favourites this season. Their King’s Cup game against Valencia (2-2) was one of the best games I’ve seen this season, and yet they followed it up with a 3-0 disaster at Leganés. This is therefore a tough one to predict, with Alavés returning to winning ways last week. My suspicion is, however, that Alavés are on the slide. They got a bit lucky last Monday at home to Levante. I watched the game from the sofa. Home win, I reckon.
- Huesca (20th) vs Athletic 13th): 1. (Mon – 21:00)
Much improving Huesca get the Boomtown Rats fixture (they didn’t like Mondays either), and although Athletic have been perking up of late and played well against a sleepy Barcelona last week in the San Mames draw, you feel that Huesca might have a chance with this one, especially on a Monday night. They’ve reinforced their squad over the winter window, with Enric Gallego looking decent after years playing in the nether regions of Spain, and Chimy Avila’s two goals at Girona last week being taken with such joy and aplomb that it lightened up the weekend. Home win.
Last week: 7-10 (70%)
Season: 86/200 (43%)
- Eibar (10th) vs Getafe (5th):
- Celta (16th) vs Levante (14th):
- Rayo (18th) vs Atlético (3rd):
- Real Sociedad (9th) vs Leganés (11th ):
- Barcelona (1st) vs Valladolid (15th):
- Real Madrid (2nd) vs Girona(17th):
- Valencia (8th) vs Espanyol (12th):
- Villarreal (19th) vs Sevilla (4th):
- Betis (7th) vs Alavés (6th):
- Huesca (20th) vs Athletic (13th):