La Liga

La Liga preview: Depor could face Madrid backlash

Sporting Gijón vs Espanyol

The Round of 34 fixtures in La Liga sees Rubi’s Sporting host Espanyol at El Molinón. Sporting Gijón were able to halt a run of three straight defeats in their previous game against bottom placed Osasuna but a late rally could only see them draw.

A win for the home side here would, temporarily at least, lift them to just the single point from safety.

The reverse fixture saw Espanyol run out 2-1 winners, however Quique Sánchez Flores’ side have only managed two away wins in their last 10 in the league.

Granada vs Málaga

It doesn’t appear that Tony Adam’s shock appointment at Granada will produce a miraculous escape with eyes being drawn more towards Adams’ hilarious instructions to his players from the touchline rather than his team’s performances. However, the former Arsenal man seems to have hinted that his tenure will last the summer with the news breaking that Nigel Reo-Coker and Kieran Richardson are to be offered deals at the end of the season.

Despite propelling themselves quite impressively away from danger in recent weeks, Málaga have seriously struggled on the road with only one win in their last 20 attempts, a statistic that will be good reading for Tony Adams.

Atlético Madrid vs Villarreal

Tuesday night is all about both teams making their current position their own at the Vicente Calderón. It has been a resilient second half of the season from Atleti with only one defeat in their last 18 league fixtures after a poor start.

Villarreal sit on 57 points but look unconvincing in their defence of 5th place with Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad in hot pursuit on 56 and 55 points respectively.

Barcelona vs Osasuna

“Football, bloody hell,” said Sir Alex Ferguson in an interview in 1999, just after the famous treble was secured. “They took you to injury time, you nearly lost it, then you won it,” said the reporter and they could almost have been talking about Sunday night’s El Clásico. Marc-André Ter Stegen was the unsung hero, making an astonishing 12 saves on the night, before Lionel Messi dramatically popped up with his 500th goal for Barcelona in the 92nd minute of the match to keep La Liga breathing.

It is now 31 league goals for Lionel Messi this campaign at an astonishing rate of a goal every 78 minutes.

The Catalans have really failed to kick on after a statement result this season but they cannot afford to slip up against bottom placed Osasuna, despite Petar Vasiljević’s side only losing once in their last 4 (their best league run of the season).

Neymar is to serve the last game of his ban meaning Paco Alcácer is likely to keep his place.

Leganes vs Las Palmas

It’s no wins in seven now for the hosts who must be anxiously looking over their shoulder at Sporting Gijón.

Las Palmas have been a strange side to predict thus far due to scoring more than their fair share but conceding a similar amount.

Valencia vs Real Sociedad

La Royal visit the Mestalla once again looking to leap frog Bilbao in the race for European football but face a Valencia side unbeaten in their last seven.

In the reverse fixture, Juanmi and Willian José secured a 3-2 fixture for Real Sociedad and have been pivotal with 19 goals between them, a luxury that Valencia must acquire in the summer if they are to improve on a poor season.

Deportivo vs Real Madrid

Deportivo have been poor form of late but Pele Mel has just about done enough to secure another season in the top flight.

Deportivo’s opponents Real Madrid will be hurting after the Clásico defeat and may face the backlash of Zidane and co in a game they simply must win under pressure.

Cristiano Ronaldo is without a goal in La Liga for four matches, a run you’d bet he’d end on Wednesday against a team that Real Madrid have put 27 goals past in their last 7 meetings (7 wins for Real Madrid).

Alaves vs Eibar

Thursday sees the meeting of two solid sets of performances from Mauricio Pellegrino and José Luis Mendilibar’s teams.

In 11th, Alaves have have best defensive record outside of the top 6, only conceding 40 goals which has been their saving grace as only Granada and Leganes have scored fewer.

In 8th place, Eibar have no problems finding the net, mainly down to Sergi Enrich and Pedro León who both have 10 league goals each. Eibar’s key men will be looking to get back onto the score sheet to avoid 3 games without a win.

Sevilla vs Celta Vigo

It hasn’t been a great 2017 for Sevilla after what could have been. They have found themselves dumped out of the Champions League at the hands of Leicester City, sporting director Monchi has decided to move to Roma, the club’s title challenge has been left in tatters after poor results and now it appears Jorge Sampaoli may be about to take over as the new manager of Argentina, ready for next year’s World Cup (if he can help them qualify).

However Champions League football is all but assured with a win against Celta Vigo, who are sat in a deceptively low position given that they have reached two semi-finals this season (beating Real Madrid along the way) and have Iago Aspas in red hot form this campaign.

Athletic Bilbao vs Real Betis

The last game of round 34 comes from San Mamés, an absolute fortress from which only Real Madrid and Barcelona have come away with a win this season, which stands Valverde in good stead as he attempts to chase down Real Sociedad and Villarreal.

Amazingly, 36 year old Aritz Aduriz is still racking up the goals with 6 in his last 6 and 14 for the season at a rate of a goal every 147 minutes.

Real Betis have their own veteran striker in 35 year old Ruben Castro, though Castro has only netted twice in his last 13 matches.

A win for Athletic Bilbao keeps them above Real Sociedad and 2 points ahead of Villarreal in 5th if the Yellow Submarine are unable to get something away to Atlético Madrid on Tuesday.

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