La Liga Betting: Bernabeu set to host high-scoring affair on Saturday night


There was some unhappy news this week as the extraordinary Barcelona career of Víctor Valdés ended with a knee problem. The goalkeeper, who was ruled out for the rest of the season, has made no secret of the fact he will leave the club this summer.

It will also keep him out of the World Cup: "It’s very sad," remarked national team coach Vicente Del Bosque to Spanish radio station Onda Cero. "It’s always bad when you can’t play for your club or at the World Cup."

His team will be doing all they can to win for him in a derby match on Saturday.

 

Espanyol 9.00, a draw 5.25, Barcelona 1.30 – Saturday 15.00 GMT

 

Espanyol are eighth in the league and can be reasonably satisfied with Javier Aguirre for that reason. His style isn't as aesthetically pleasing as the days of Maurico Pochettino, but whilst they are getting results and sitting in the top half of the table, the supporters are content.

Aguirre's team are naturally aggressive and direct. They will look to break-up the play and surprise Barça on the counter attack. Forward Sergio Garcia knows it's not going to be easy: "We need to be at 100 per cent to be in the game and we know that we cannot allow them to play their natural game," said Garcia. "Beating our great rivals at home would be fantastic. I hope it’s a great match, we will be looking for three points."

Barcelona rested Xavi, Gerard Piqué, Dani Alves and Sergio Busquets for the 3-0 win over Celta Vigo in midweek, all are likely to return with Pinto replacing Valdés. Reports suggest that the injury to their number one has had psychological affects on some of his close friends within the team.

Neymar's brace on Wednesday was a much needed boost for the forward after some indifferent form of late. For the Brazilian to score first here it's 5.25.

The Catalan derby has been a pretty one-sided affair in recent seasons, but mainly in terms of scoreline. Espanyol have not beaten their rivals in six years, though at home they have drawn three of their last six meetings.

It's rare that Barça deliver a hammering at the home of their local enemy. Under 2.5 goals is 2.45.

Score Prediction: Espanyol 0 Barcelona 2 (7.50)

 

Real Madrid 1.05, a draw 12.00, Rayo Vallecano 35.00 - Saturday 21.00 GMT

After a run of 31consecutive matches without losing, Real Madrid lost two in a row. The encounters with Barcelona and the in-form Sevilla were always going to be difficult, but Los Blancos were looking comfortable heading into the week.

Spanish paper Marca conducted a survey which asked who is most to blame for the recent downturn, and almost 70% of voters said the players.

"The defeat was a big blow," young midfielder Isco told the media, "But we are Madrid, we are obliged to pick ourselves up and we have total confidence that we can turn things around." That needs to start against Rayo, anything less than a win would invite a whole new wave of criticism.

Sergio Ramos and Ángel di María will both return from suspension, whilst Pepe could be given a rest with Borrusia Dortmund in mind on Wednesday. Di María was excellent against Barça and he will be keen to make a similar impact. For the Argentine to score the opening goal it's 7.50.

Paco Jémez has now won more games than any Rayo coach in history, whilst their recent three wins on the bounce equalled Juande Ramos' record of most consecutive victories at the club.

They are unbeaten in March and up to 12th in the league after winning four out of five matches. Rayo looked destined to drop down a division six weeks ago, they might still only be five points from the relegation zone, but confidence is high at Vallecas. 35.00 is an excellent price for Rayo to pull off another surprise.

It should be an open and entertaining match. Madrid will try to make a statement and Rayo don't know any other way of playing. Over 1.5 goals for the away team is 5.60

Score Prediction: Real Madrid 5 Rayo Vallecano 3 (110.00)

 

Valencia 1.40, a draw 4.33, Getafe 8.00 - Sunday 20.00 GMT

"We’re at our limit now, taking injuries into account. But that doesn’t reduce our chances either in La Liga or the Europa League," said Valencia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi this week. "We’re still capable of winning the games we need to win."

Getafe have not won on the road in the league since Halloween. The appointment of new manager Cosmin Contra has not stopped the slide. He promises to produce stylish football at Madrid's third club, but that will be irrelevant if they are in the Segunda next season.

Four out of Valencia's seven victories at the Mestalla this season were done so by a one-goal margin. For a 3-way handicap with Getafe starting at 0-1, then opt for the draw at 3.50.

 

Score Prediction: Valencia 1 Getafe 0 (6.75)