Terry Gibson’s La Liga Betting: Three points a must for Barcelona as Real Madrid will outgun Osasuna


Alavés v Barcelona, Saturday 3.15pm

Isn’t it ironic that after both teams qualified this week for this season's Copa del Rey final that they then face up to each other immediately this weekend?

Barcelona have already lost to Alavés this season in the earlier La Liga fixture at the Nou Camp in what has probably been the shock result of the season so far. 

Luis Enrique chose to leave Iniesta, Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba and Lionel Messi on the bench for that one, I'm sure he won't do that again this week!

Getting into the Copa del Rey final and beating Barcelona away from home has been an incredible achievement for the newly promoted team from the Basque country and this is only their 12th ever season in the top flight of Spanish football. 

This game played early Saturday afternoon will certainly be tough for Barcelona but it is a must win for them. Home form for Alavés has proven them to be a tough team to beat. 

In 10 home games played they have lost just two; against Real Madrid 4-1 and a 1-0 defeat to Espanyol.  However, they have only won two. Those were against Granada and Real Betis. Six games have been drawn and three of those were 0-0. They have only conceded nine goals and four of those came from Madrid.

Unfortunately for them, they have only scored 10 themselves. 

This all suggests that Barcelona might find it tough to break them down. Although the home supporters will be in a celebratory mood don't expect an expansive carefree style of football from Mauricio Pellegrino's team. 

The objection of this game for him will be to instil and reinforce belief in his team ahead of the final at the end of May that they can once again compete with Barcelona.

They will look to replicate the plan that was successful at the Nou Camp, which was to sit back, defend in numbers and look to hit on the break, even at home. 

At the Nou Camp they did exactly that and created 4 or 5 really good chances and managed to take two of them. I'm expecting Luis Enrique to go with a full strength line up with only Mascherano and Rafinha unavailable now through injury. 

So no chances taken by him in terms of rotation despite the fact they play PSG away on Tuesday in the Champions League. 

For Barca, three points are a must in their pursuit of Real Madrid and it will probably be tough but I believe they will achieve exactly that. I'm predicting a 2-0 (7.00) away victory.

 

Osasuna v Real Madrid, Saturday 7.45pm

Bottom of the table Osasuna take on top of the table Real Madrid and surely there is only one winner? Osasuna have only won one match all season and that was away from home so it's extremely tough to make a case for them in this game.

I'm going to try though, ignoring all of the obvious reasons why it would be a conclusive win for Real Madrid. I'm not going to be silly and predict anything other than a Real Madrid victory but if you are looking for a shock result then this might be the one.

It's worth a closer look at.

Osasuna are currently on their third manager of the season in Petar Vasiljevic. His approach has contrasted totally with the previous two managers in the fact that he has been much more offensive in his outlook. 

In the last five games they have scored 10 goals compared to the 13 in the previous 16 games. As of yet they haven't been able to enjoy a win under him but they are getting closer. Recent games in this run have included a 3-3 with Valencia, a 4-3 home defeat against Sevilla and a 3-2 defeat last week at Real Sociedad. 

I applaud the fact he is trying to score his way out of relegation trouble as opposed to being defensive and hard to beat. The supporters at El Sadar have embraced his philosophy and the place will be rocking on Saturday evening.

Real Madrid are currently one point clear of Barcelona with two games in hand, they have been pretty much top of the pile all season but if Barcelona do pick up a win in the earlier game then Real Madrid would start this game in second place. Would that affect them? Probably not.

Toni Kroos is suspended for this game but Luca Modric is expected to return along with Marcelo and Dani Carvajal. Will it be an issue that Zidane's team have not played a game in what will be 13 days after last week’s postponed game against Celta Vigo?

He also has to bear in mind that they meet Napoli at home on Wednesday evening in the Champions League. I'm seriously clutching at straws here for Osasuna but the point I'm trying to make is that this might not be the forgone conclusion that everybody, including me, expects. 

So if you fancy backing an outsider or a long shot this is certainly not as impossible as it seems.

That said, I'm going to go with the obvious and predict Real Madrid to outscore Osasuna. I wouldn't be surprised to see it something like a 3-2 away win (20.00) for Real Madrid. 

 

Las Palmas v Sevilla, Sunday 5.30pm

I'm co commentating on this game and I am absolutely delighted. They are two of my favourite teams in La Liga this season due to their attacking skilful and vibrant approach to the game.

Las Palmas are a joy to watch at home. Perhaps not so much away from the island of Gran Canaria but their home form sees them sit reasonably comfortable in 11th place and most importantly 15 points above relegation.

Las Palmas are undefeated in their own stadium this season winning six and drawing five and they will be looking to bounce back after yet another away defeat last time out at lowly Granada. The contrast between their home and away form is clearly evident. Their total of 28 points have been accumulated with only five points taken from games on their travels and 23 gained at home. Those long flights to the mainland must be an issue for every away game! 

The job that Quique Setien is doing at Las Palmas surely isn't going unnoticed. The style of play from Las Palmas is very unique even in La Liga. Back heels, step overs and Cruyff turns are encouraged all over the pitch from every player and they are always a great watch.


Sevilla also are looking for a return to winning ways after drawing at home last week against Villarreal which came on the back of losing at Espanyol. They are now losing ground on the top two after picking up just one point from the last six available.

They will also be mindful that Atletico have closed the gap to just four points in the chase for a top three position and automatic qualification for next season's Champions League.

In this one I'm going to go for Sevilla to inflict the first home defeat of the season on Las Palmas. If, as I expect it to be, it's all out attack from both teams I will go for Sevilla's little bit of extra quality in all departments to succeed. It should be fun to watch.

My prediction is for a 2-1 away victory (8.50) for Jorge Sampaoli's team.

 

Atletico Madrid v Celta Vigo

Two disappointed teams meet up at the Vicente Calderon as they both once again look to focus back on their domestic campaign. Both teams were defeated in the Copa del Rey semi-finals this week but I genuinely believe that Celta will be the team most hurting. 

Atletico will rightly count themselves unlucky to have gone out against Barcelona. Their performance at the Nou Camp in particular deserved more. They can take the positives and move on for the rest of the season in the league and the Champions League. 

Celta will reflect probably though on a lost opportunity in their defeat against Alavés as they were huge favourites to go through over the two legs after knocking out Real Madrid in the previous round. 

Their league form has been good during this busy Copa del Rey period and they have won three of the last four. Here is the dilemma though for coach Eduardo Berizzo. He has been rotating heavily which has meant pretty much one team for the cup and an alternative line-up in the league whilst prioritising the cup competition. I believe the first choice team lost a little bit of rhythm going into the semi-final.

They also have another cup game this week when they face Shakhtar Donetsk in the Europa League on Thursday evening. His team selection for this game will be interesting indeed.

Regarding Atletico I see them slightly improving week-in-week-out. I still believe they will finish in third position again this season and I also think they will do very well again in the Champions League. 

However, for this game Diego Simeone has a slight crisis at the heart of his defence with both Godin and Giminez missing so it will probably be Lucas Hernandez playing alongside Savic. Simeone will be hoping that Godin isn't out for too long that's for sure.

I believe that the quality and experience of Atletico will be enough in this game to overcome a confused Celta Vigo especially if he goes with four attacking midfielders and two strikers as he did when it was all or nothing at Barcelona after trailing 2-1 from the first leg. It almost worked. My prediction is a 2-0 (6.40) win for Atletico.