Terry Gibson’s La Liga Betting: Sevilla and Barcelona to bounce back but Real Madrid will keep them at bay


Barcelona v Athletic Bilbao, Saturday 3.15pm

It's a Saturday afternoon kick-off for Barca at home against Athletic Bilbao and the pressure is firmly on Luis Enrique's team.

The failure to beat Real Betis last week resulted from a performance that has become far too familiar with Barcelona this season.

Just when you believe they are finding top form and consistency they have showed a propensity to become complacent and appear to lack motivation, which is astounding considering that has already happened on two or three occasions this season. 

They haven't learnt a lesson and it is the reason they trail a more consistent Real Madrid by four points having played a game more.

Barca have been defeated by Alavés at home, Celta away and have dropped points at home against Malaga and now 13th place Betis.  It's not the dropped points in draws against Atletico, Real Madrid, Villarreal and Real Sociedad that might cost them it's the complacency against teams that they normally don't slip up against, in general Real Madrid haven't this season.

Therefore it's a necessity that Barca, playing before Sevilla and Real Madrid this weekend, gain maximum points to apply some pressure onto their rivals.

Buoyed by an impressive 2-1 midweek away win at Atletico in the Copa del Rey I believe they will do exactly that. 

Athletic will be determined opponents but they are a team that are struggling away from home this season. They lie in 7th place on 32 points but only eight have been accumulated on their travels. 

Two wins at Granada and Deportivo doesn't suggest that an away win at the Nou Camp is likely. Their last six away La Liga games read four defeats and two draws.

I certainly don't expect this to be easy for Barcelona but I do expect them to break down Athletic Bilbao's defence often enough for Messi and Suarez to profit from.

I'm going for a Barca win with a 3-1 score line.

 

Sevilla v Villarreal, Sunday 11am

Sevilla are looking to bounce back from last week’s defeat at Espanyol, it was just one of those days I'm afraid for Jorge Sampaoli's team!

Having defender Nico Pareja sent off after conceding a penalty in the second minute of the game was just too big an obstacle to overcome. To their credit, they were still the better team for an hour but the one-man disadvantage for pretty much an entire game was always going to take its toll and they eventually succumbed to a 3-1 defeat.

They are a powerhouse at home – winning eight from nine this season, losing only to Barcelona – and I'm expecting them to continue that winning form this week.

They face a Villarreal team who are statistically the best defensive team in the league conceding only 14 goals this season. However, I feel they have become rather too defensive. 

I co-commentated on their last away game at Deportivo la Coruńa which was a 0-0 draw. They made little effort to win the game and the longer it went on the intention for it to remain scoreless become even more apparent! Strikers were replaced with defensive players and they got what they set out for. 

Expect similar on Sunday, which is acceptable for an away game at Sevilla but certainly not at Deportivo if you are intending to gain a Champions League place this season.

Patio has moved to China, Adrian Lopez has been signed from Porto, Soldado is nearing a return from long term injury and Cedric Bakambu has returned from the African Nations cup so there’s some good attacking options for Fran Escribar, will he use them this week?

It will be all out attack of course from Sampaoli's Sevilla and I'm anticipating that they will just look to outscore a team who have only scored eight away from home this season.

I think they will be 2-0 winners.

 

Celta Vigo v Real Madrid, Sunday 7.45pm

A quick return to Balaidos for Real Madrid after being knocked out very recently in the Copa del Rey by Celta Vigo.

The damage was done by Celta in the 1st leg at the Bernabeu when they were surprise 2-1 victors. A 2-2 home draw then saw them go through.

There is no doubt that Celta can trouble Real Madrid in this fixture, they also have beaten Barcelona this season 4-3 in their own stadium but I feel that it is a good time for Real Madrid to be playing them.

This game comes right in the middle of the two-legged semi-final that Celta are playing against Alavés and if they get to the final it will be a huge historic moment for the club.

They have won the second division title three times and have been runners-up in the Copa del Rey three times in their entire history. Because they have never won a major domestic title their focus is firmly on the cup, rightly so.

Due to this they will probably make a number of changes in this game to rest key players for the 2nd leg and that will certainly make life easier for Real Madrid who themselves still have some issues regarding team selection. 

Toni Kroos is suspended and it is going to be left until the last minute to see if Luca Modric is fit enough to be the man to replace him. Marcelo and Carvajal still remain doubtful, likewise James Rodriguez and Pepe.

It certainly is not a new problem for Zidane who has been battling against and coping really well with injuries issues all season. The likes of Nacho, Kovacic, Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio have been a massive hit this season and Zidane has full trust in these players that have served him well.

Will Morata get the nod over Benzema is the other big question. Morata came on as a sub last week to replace the struggling Benzema and scored the third goal in the 3-0 win over a very disappointing Real Sociedad. 

Zidane is coming under increasing pressure to make that change by the Real Madrid faithful but he has been steadfast so far in his support for his fellow Frenchman.

Because of the cup situation with Celta, I'm anticipating that at least five first choice players will be rested for this game, including 15 goal leading scorer Iago Aspas.

Therefore, what normally would be a tougher game for Real Madrid should become slightly more straight-forward.

In saying that, it is normally pretty straightforward for Real Madrid anyway in this fixture. They have won the last five in the league against Celta. 

Celta have scored though in their last eight home games against Real Madrid and to top it off Madrid have only kept one clean sheet in their last six away games in the league this season.

I'm going to go for a Real Madrid victory but with Celta scoring.

A 2-1 away victory for Real Madrid.