Getafe vs Real Madrid - Sunday 11AM UK time kick-off
Real Madrid remain La Liga leaders, but they’ve yet to really get going in 2015, and on Thursday night were eliminated from the Copa del Rey after only managing a 2-2 draw in their last 16 second leg at home to other neighbours Atletico Madrid.
That result at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu means Carlo Ancelotti's side, which won each and every one of their last 22 games in 2014, have begun the calendar year with just one victory in four outings. A further worry is that talisman Cristiano Ronaldo admitted after Thursday’s game that he is not physically at 100 per cent at the moment, while Karim Benzema is also struggling for form.
Another failure to win here and the alarm bells really would start ringing. And Getafe do have a decent record against bigger teams at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez, holding Barcelona to a 0-0 just before Christmas, and beating Jose Mourinho’s Madrid 2-1 at home two seasons ago. Recently appointed coach Quique Sanchez Flores will also surely be up for a win, having ended his career as a player at the Bernabeu in the mid-1990s, and being most associated with Atletico as a coach. But Madrid really, really should win this.
In team news defenders Pepe and Fabio Coentrao are definitely out for Madrid, so Raphael Varane and Marcelo will start. Former Swansea forward Alvaro Vazquez scored Getafe’s winner in their 1-0 Copa win over Almeria on Wednesday, so should come into the team up front.
Predicted result: Getafe 0-2 Real Madrid at 7.50
Best bet: Madrid clean sheet / total goals home team at 1.88
Atletico Madrid vs Granada - Sunday 4PM UK time kick-off
Thursday’s Copa defeat of their richer neighbours, achieved with two goals from returning hero Fernando Torres, mean Atletico have immediately move on from any doom and gloom after last weekend’s 3-1 defeat at Barcelona.
Diego Simeone’s side are also hosting a Granada outfit in awful form, with just one win in La Liga since September. That run, and most lately Wednesday’s 4-0 King’s Cup hammering by Sevilla, lead to the Andalucians’ firing manager Joaquin Caparros on Friday. Reserve-team coach Joseba Aguado is expected to pick the team for the trip to the Estadio Vicente Calderon.
For Arda Turan and Gabi should come into midfield, after being just used in late substitute roles at the Bernabeu. Mario Mandzukic should shake off flu to return, but Antoine Griezmann picked up a minor shoulder problem against Madrid. So Torres might keep this place for this one, and 'El Nino' will fancy his chances of scoring again to continue his fairytale comeback to his boyhood club.
Predicted score: Atletico 3-0 Granada at 6.30
Best bet: Home team to score in both halves at 1.85
Deportivo La Coruna vs Barcelona - Sunday 6PM UK time kick-off
Last Sunday’s comprehensive win at home to Atletico, and particularly Leo Messi’s match-winning performance, lifted the pressure on Barca coach Luis Enrique for the moment. But the Asturian himself admitted afterwards that the drama would return after the next poor result, and Barca’s away form [one point and no goals on their last two La Liga trips] suggests a win at El Riazor is far from a foregone conclusion.
Depor have failed to score in six of their last eight matches in La Liga, but they have at least tightened up at the back, keeping clean sheets as they’ve taken four points from their last two outings. Ex-Osasuna and Wigan centre forward Oriol Riera and Costa Rican centre-back Celsus Borges could both go straight into the team after signing for the club this week.
With the Galicians having apparently turned a corner, a repeat of the 8-2 scoreline when Madrid visited back in September looks very unlikely. The 5-4 result when Barca last visited in October 2012 also seems unlikely given both teams recent displays.
Barca’s struggles on the road really are puzzling, with neither Messi, Luis Suarez nor Neymar notching away from the Camp Nou in La Liga since early November. But the front three do appear to be clicking now, and one of them should really decide this game.
Prediction: Depor 0-1 Barca at odds of 7.50
Best bet: Under 2.5 goals by away team at 1.95
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