Terry Gibson's La Liga Betting: Forget The Fact It's A Derby, Barcelona Will Hammer Espanyol


All games kick-off at 16.00 GMT on Sunday 

Barcelona - Espanyol

Whilst not totally back to their best, the process is almost there now. After the blip it has been a return to winning ways in just the nick of time for Barcelona, winning three on the trot, scoring 16 and keeping three clean sheets is just what was needed.

It sounds strange to say that they haven't been brilliant with those stats, but I believe full confidence isn't far away.

Espanyol will be the team to suffer next. The general opinion is that as it's a derby Espanyol will make life tough for their neighbours, but I don't see that!

They are just not good enough. They did however gain a 0-0 earlier this season at the Cornella in a fiery encounter in a game that I likened to a Game of Thrones episode in terms of its brutality!

Real Betis Balompie v FC Barcelona - La Liga : News Photo

The refereeing in that game was absurd and Espanyol were allowed to kick the life out of Barcelona with very little reproach.

Let's look at the facts, Espanyol have just one win in the last 18 against Barcelona. That was back in 2009 when Mauricio Pochettino was coach. They have scored only one goal in the last eight derbiesm which was last season when they took a 1-0 lead through Sergio Garcia and then Barca scored five. So the truth is that they don't make life tough for Barcelona at all.

Espanyol are not mathematically safe from relegation, but almost are after their win last week against Sevilla, their first in six. It is probable that even if they lose this week that will be the case anyway, as they are five points clear with just two games to go and have six teams below them.

Espanyol should be doing better than just surviving, but for this current crop of players that is all that could have been expected.

This all leads me to feeling convinced that Barcelona will sweep away Espanyol in their quest to retain the title. Simply they are a far better team and if the refereeing is as it should be then they will have no problems at all.

I'm predicting another big haul for Luis Suarez and his mates with a 5-0 on the cards.

 

Levante - Atletico Madrid

This is the perfect game for Atletico Madrid after their exertions midweek in the Champions League triumph against Bayern.

It is a visit to an already relegated team. Levante's destiny was confirmed with a defeat at Malaga last Monday evening in controversial circumstances, with a ridiculous interpretation of the offside rule to disallow a legitimate goal when they were level at 1-1.

However that isn't the reason they were relegated it merely confirmed what has been on the cards now for some time.

FBL-EUR-C1-BAYERN-MUNICH-ATLETICO-MADRID : News Photo

Since the confirmed relegation players have already declared retirement and others of their plans to depart next season so I don't expect too much of a test for Atletico, and maybe the manager Rubi might even give some youngsters a chance who might be in the clubs plans for next season in the Segunda division.

I'm sure Diego Simeone will try to freshen things up a touch but I'm sure he won't make as many changes as he did for last week’s match v Rayo which turned out to be too close for comfort. He had to rely on subs Fernando Torres, Koke and match winner Antoine Griezmann to win it, with Griezmann taking just 42 seconds to win the game as an impact sub!

This time he’ll start and score for Atletico in a 2-0 win.

 

Real Madrid - Valencia

The Real Madrid game is once again the tougher to call in games involving the top three.

There are two reasons for this. Firstly I'm not too convinced that Zinedine Zidane genuinely believes that his team will benefit from any slip ups from both Barca and Atletico and that the title is genuinely attainable, and secondly I have no idea which Valencia will show up at the Bernabéu.

Similar to Atletico, Real Madrid's fixture schedule from now on in should not be a problem, with just three big games in almost a month, so there is no real need for Zidane to make wholesale changes to his strongest line up.

Real Madrid v Manchester City FC - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Second Leg : News Photo

However, there are players with injury situations that need keeping an eye on and that will have to be monitored by Zidane. Cristiano Ronaldo, for instance, and who knows maybe even Gareth Bale will need protecting to be sure he is available for the Champions League final after his recurring injury issues this season.

It's a difficult balancing act for Zidane, does he go for it risking players in the unlikely hope that the other two mess up, or does he focus on the trophy that they do have a genuine chance of winning?

Regarding Valencia, I have no idea what to expect from them! They are a real basket case this season.

Finally they showed some real form to dig themselves out of relegation trouble with three wins and a draw in four games. Then when safe they turned in an abject performance at home last week losing 2-0 to a rotated Villarreal at the Mestalla. Valencia were truly awful.

Taking all things into consideration I'm going to go for Real Madrid to win this even with changes made against a Valencia team I just don't trust.

Real Madrid to win 2-0.

 

Getafe - Sporting Gijon

The big decider indeed. A game which has been looming for both clubs and both have been pinning their hopes on winning to avoid relegation.

Getafe have had new life breathed into them recently with a change of manager, and they now have taken seven points from the last three games, which is five more than they took in their previous 13 games!

It has been a surprise turnaround and they now have a chance.

Getafe CF v Valencia CF - La Liga : News Photo

Sporting have been hovering around the relegation area all season which is probably where they expected to be after promotion, and they will be pleased that they have a chance of survival with two games to go.

Both teams are on 35 points along with Rayo. Granada are a point ahead on 36, Depor 39 and Espanyol who should be safe on 40.

I'm leaning towards favouring Getafe in this. Home advantage is crucial and the Coliseum will be rocking this week. I'm not being sarcastic! Who'd have thought lowering ticket prices would lead to more support!?

Getafe to narrowly win 1-0, with a rejuvenated Pedro Leon with the goal.

 

Real Sociedad - Rayo Vallecano

It's been a tough run of fixtures for Rayo, their last two games have been against Real Madrid and Atletico and unsurprisingly they haven't been able to collect any points despite two good performances.

The fixture list was always going to be an issue for Rayo if they were in a spot of bother and that is exactly what they are in.

Real Sociedad away isn't ideal either, but they are meandering now towards the end of the season. They are very mid-table, cannot get into Europe and the beach is calling!

FBL-ESP-LIGA-ATLETICO-RAYO : News Photo

They will want to put on a decent show in their last home game of the season but that is the only motivation. I am led to believe that up to eight first choice players are liable to be missing from the starting team through various injuries so that definitely gives Rayo an opportunity not to be missed.

I believe that Rayo will take this opportunity to take all three points, and then they have to beat Levante at home to ensure they stay up in the last game.

I'm backing enigmatic coach Paco Jemez and Rayo to win by 2-1. They never keep a clean sheet!

 

Sevilla - Granada

A big Andalucia derby game, and in particular for Granada.

For Sevilla it will be a celebration after getting into the final of the Europa League and it will be a team which will bear no resemblance to the team that beat Shakhtar midweek. They have a great squad though so plenty of familiar names will start in this game for Unai Emery.

Granada lie just one point above the relegation zone and the situation is critical to say the least. Sevilla away is a tough game whoever is in the starting lineup and then Granada's last game is Barcelona at home!

FBL-ESP-LIGA-CELTA-GRANADA : News Photo

They need something from this game but the best I can give them is a draw, and I am struggling with that.

That's what I'm going to go for though but I'm wondering if just one point from this game is going to be enough for them to survive bearing in mind I believe that Barcelona are going to have to win next week to win the title.

My reasoning for the draw is that Granada will be boosted by a good comeback win last week against Las Palmas, where they were 2 down in the first 12 minutes and they stormed back to win 3-2.

They know that 36 points is not going to be enough so they will show plenty of urgency and desire. Sevilla know they have qualified for Europe already and have 2 cup finals to look forward to against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey and Liverpool in the Europa League, and they won't be as determined to win those 50-50 challenges as their relegation threatened counterparts.

So I'm going to take that into consideration and give Granada a chance of the draw. 1-1.

 

Villarreal - Deportivo la Coruńa

It will be a case of after the Lord Mayors show for Villarreal after their defeat against Liverpool in midweek, but it has been a season to be proud of for Marcelino and the Yellow Submarine. A guaranteed fourth place finish and a European semi-final is plenty to build on and I expect them to win this game too.

Interestingly their form has faded recently and the big surprise was their performance last week at Valencia. The team was effectively Marcelino's B team and the surprise was it was their best all round performance for some while. Perhaps Marcelino should have noted that as it might have improved their chances against Liverpool when he made nine changes to the team that beat Valencia and then lost meekly at Anfield. Musacchio and Soldado were the only survivors.

Liverpool v Villarreal CF - UEFA Europa League Semi Final: Second Leg : News Photo

Villarreal will want to finish on a high at home and opponents don't come much easier than Depor at the moment.

Just three points from their last six games and a home defeat to Getafe last week leaves Depor marooned on 39 points when they thought they were safe some time ago.

The other problem for Depor is that their final day opponents are Real Madrid!

I’ll take Villarreal to succeed against Depor, who might have to hope that 39 points is going to be enough. 3-0 to the hosts.