La Liga Betting: Atletico can take a point and the title at Barcelona


La Liga reaches its climax this weekend and then attentions turn towards the World Cup. Vicente Del Bosque announced his initial 30-man squad on Tuesday with very few surprises. 

Athletic Bilbao's Ander Iturraspe was the biggest shock, but he's unlikely to make the final 23. The job of choosing seven players from the list not to make the cut is an unenviable task, although injury to Bayern Munich's Thiago Alcántara has made that decision a little easier.

Back to this weekend though, as Thiago’s old club Barcelona face a huge title decider. However, first up are Real Madrid…   

 

Real Madrid 1.33, a draw 5.50, Espanyol 8.50 – Saturday 15.00 GMT

 

It was a disappointing end to Real Madrid's title challenge as they meekly surrendered any hope they had with a 2-0 defeat at Celta Vigo. They aren't the only ones to stumble towards the finishing line though, with the three contenders picking up just five of the last 21 points available between them. 

With the Champions League final next weekend, Carlo Ancelotti's team selection should resemble something close to his preferred first XI. There are doubts over the fitness of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Angel di María and Cristiano Ronaldo however.

The Portuguese forward is likely to start even if he isn't 100% as he's one goal away from claiming the European Golden Shoe award and currently level with Liverpool's Luis Súarez. 

It was Sergio Ramos' error that led to Charles' first strike for Celta Vigo. The defender has scored five goals in his last five matches in all competitions. It's 16.00 for Ramos to open the scoring. 

Espanyol coach Javier Aguirre is likely to leave the club this summer according to Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo. His declining relationship with the club’s sporting director Oscar Perarnau is the main reason behind the move. Aguirre's team normally raises their game for the better sides though. 

However there have been only four home matches out of 18 in the league where Real Madrid have failed to score three goals or more. Over 2.5 goals for Los Blancos are 2.17

Score Prediction: Real Madrid 3 Espanyol 0 (10.50)

 

Barcelona 1.83, a draw 3.70, Atlético Madrid 4.50 – Saturday 17.00 GMT

 

Despite doing their best to blow their chances, Barcelona are one victory away from winning the league. The stalemate with Elche was only their second clean sheet in the last 10 matches with José Pinto in goal. 

That underlines the importance of Víctor Valdés. The goalkeeper wrote an open letter to the club this week as he's set to depart for a fresh challenge. In it he thanked his coaches, teammates and fans for their support.

Barcelona also hosted an event to pay homage to retiring centre-back and captain Carles Puyol. "Playing at Camp Nou has been the maximum for me. My father always told me to make sure that if I didn’t make it, it wasn’t for having not given everything," said Puyol at the celebration. 

With one defining match left to play, the timing of these occurrences seems a little poor. Everyone knew they were both going, so couldn't this have been done after the final day of the campaign? 

Champions League finalists Atlético Madrid have had a fantastic season regardless of the outcome of the next two matches, but ending the term without any silverware would be a huge disappointment.

Diego Godín is back from suspension to organise the defensive unit, whilst Diego Costa has shaken off an injury to be fit for the encounter. The striker is 6.00 for first goal. 

Four out of the last five meetings have ended in a draw. Atlético won't be playing to avoid defeat, it's not in their nature, but that will be enough to give them the trophy. For the sides to be drawing at half-time and full-time it's 5.10.

Score Prediction: Barcelona 1 Atlético Madrid 1 (6.00)

 

Real Valladolid 2.16, a draw 3.40, Granada 3.40 – Sunday 17.00 GMT

 

It's a real relegation six-pointer as 19th placed Real Valladolid host 17th placed Granada. There's just two points separating the sides and five teams can still get relegated depending on a variety of outcomes. 

The two clubs missed their first chance to steer themselves towards safety as Granada lost at home to Almería and Valladolid let a 3-2 lead slip to lose 4-3 to the already demoted Real Betis.

Anything less than a win for Valladolid will see them in next season's Segunda, but if Osasuna defeat bottom club Betis both sides could drop out of the division. 

Granada need a draw to survive as they have a better head-to-head record with Osasuna. It promises to be an exciting battle and both teams will be desperate to maintain their top-flight status. 

It could be an open match with plenty of mistakes leading to goalscoring opportunities. Over 3.5 goals is 3.20

Score Prediction: Real Valladolid 2 Granada 2 (12.50)