Note: This is being published after the Mallorca/Osasuna game started – sorry. I wrote most of it up last night, but then I needed that little thing called sleep.
Mallorca v. Osasuna
Saturday 10:00 EST
League Placement: 19. Mallorca (17 points) | 17. Osasuna (21 points)
This isn’t the match that will get the most attention by a long shot, but the result could mean a lot for who ultimately goes down at the end of the season. Osasuna seem to be getting a little better, losing just one of their last four, Mallorca have lost all of their last four and finally sacked their coach earlier this week.
The first match ended in a 1-1 draw. A win for Osasuna would be a huge step toward safety, and a win for Mallorca, especially under their new-old coach, would give them reason to feel like they could stay up.
Projection: Low scoring win for Osasuna.
Celta Vigo v. Valencia
Saturday 12:00 EST
League Placement: 6. Valencia (34 points) | 18. Celta (20 points)
Valencia have struggled away from home in the league this season, which is pretty much all Celta have going for them. Other than that embarrassing loss to Real Madrid a few rounds ago, Valencia are definitely on a hot streak: they’ve won four of their last six in the league and held Barcelona to a draw in the previous round. Celta, on the other hand, are struggling against relegation and have one won once in their last six games.
This should be a game Valencia can finish off.
Projection: Comfortable win for Valencia
Levante v. Málaga
Saturday 14:00 EST
League Placement: 9. Levante (33 points) | 4. Málaga (36 points)
If you needed proof that the top half of the table is tight, this is it. Three points separate ninth place from fourth.
On paper, this looks like it would be an amazing match, but neither team is in great form right now, and while Levante have a lot of positive attributes, consistently putting out highly attractive, entertaining games isn’t really one of them.
This could be really important in the race for Europe, but I can’t help but feel like it’ll turn out to be a bit of a dud.
Projection: Scoring draw
Deportivo La Coruña v. Granada
Saturday 16:00 EST
League Placement: 20. Depor (16 points) | 16. Granada (23 points)
Another relegation six-pointer. Both teams are capable of playing attractive football and showing up against the bigger teams, but they’ve also both struggled immensely this season with consistency. It’s a must-win for Depor to keep their heads above water, and a win for Granada (who are certainly in better form right now and who will be feeling very confident after the victory over Real Madrid) would go a long way toward safety.
The clash between these two ended in a 1-1 draw at Granada earlier this season. Despite lacking the home advantage this time around, Granada might put another nail in Depor’s coffin tonight.
Projection: Slim win for Granada
Real Madrid v. Sevilla
Saturday 16:00 EST
League Placement: 3. Real Madrid (43 points) | 11. Sevilla (29 points)
As everyone undoubtedly remembers, Sevilla beat Real Madrid in the first of what would turn out to be four defeats for last year’s champions in Andalusia this season. Since then, however, Sevilla have definitely faltered, and while they’re still in the Copa del Rey, they’ve really struggled in the league.
That said, they’ve been much stronger under their new coach, Unai Emery, who has a lot of experience in taking points off the big two, and they’ll certainly go in feeling optimistic. Adding to Madrid’s concerns is a mid-week match against English heavyweight Manchester United, which they’ll be a lot more focused on than a league clash with Sevilla.
Still, it’s difficult to see RM faltering again, especially at home.
Projection: Close win for Real Madrid
Barcelona v. Getafe
Sunday 6:00 EST
League Placement: 1. Barcelona (59 points) | 12. Getafe (29 points)
Getafe’s placement in the table is a little misleading – they’re really not that far out of Europa contention, and a strong run could certainly put them in the mix for it. However, they have had a poor run of form in recent weeks, and traveling away to Barcelona won’t be easy.
Barcelona themselves have had a few stumbles in recent weeks as well (though the draw against Valencia at the Mestalla really was to be expected), and the early kickoff could be a problem – in Getafe’s match with Real Madrid a couple weeks ago, which kicked off at the same time, both teams looked quite lethargic.
However, unlike Real Madrid, Barcelona don’t need to worry about the Champions League, since their match isn’t until next Wednesday, and given their nearly-perfect home record in the league, it seems likely that they’ll manage a win.
Projection: Comfortable win for Barcelona
Zaragoza v. Real Sociedad
Sunday 11:00 EST
League Placement: 15. Zaragoza (24 points) | 8. Real Sociedad (33 points)
Sociedad are in great form right now and in real contention for a spot in Europe, where Zaragoza haven’t won any of their last five. Zaragoza also aren’t in real danger of the drop at this point, so they won’t have that motivation working in their favor.
Projection: Close win for Sociedad
Athletic Bilbao v. Espanyol
Sunday 13:00 EST
League Placement: 13. Athletic Bilbao (26 points) | 14. Espanyol (25 points)
It wasn’t that long ago that Espanyol looked like they were all but doomed for relegation, but since Aguirre took over at the end of November, they’ve been a completely different side. They’ve won four of their last six and lost just one (to Barcelona), including a deserved 3-2 win against Levante last round.
Athletic, on the other hand, are also beginning to look a bit more solid: they’ll be wishing they could have put out a performance in the Europa final like they did against Atlético two weeks ago. They were looking like their old selves again.
Espanyol may be looking more solid than they were, but Athletic have the home advantage and more quality. They should manage to get a win.
Projection: Close win for Athletic
Rayo Vallecano v. Atlético Madrid
Sunday 15:00 EST
League Placement: 2. Atlético (50 points) | 7. Rayo (34 points)
This all depends on which Rayo show up. They can beat successful teams like Málaga, Valencia, Levante, and Betis or lose to struggling teams like Osasuna or Granada. They’re one of the more inconsistent teams in the league, and you never know which Rayo will step onto the field.
If Rayo play like we know they can, this could be very close. If they play poorly, Atlético will run away with this.
I’m going to go out on a limb and predict a win for Rayo.
Projection: Close win for Rayo
Betis v. Valladolid
Monday 15:30 EST
League Placement: 5. Betis (35 points) | 10. Valladolid (29 points)
Depor and Celta have really struggled this season, but the other newly-promoted side, Valladolid, have been quite solid – like Getafe, they’re just one strong run away from a Europa spot, and they’re in pretty good form right now.
Betis, on the other hand, aren’t in the great form. That said, they’re still a strong side, and always a force to be reckoned with. They also have the home advantage.
Projection: Scoring draw
If these predictions are right, the table will look like:
1. Barcelona (62 points)
2. Atlético (50 points)
3. Real Madrid (46 points)
4. Málaga (37 points)
5. Valencia (37 points)
6. Rayo Vallecano (37 points)
7. Real Sociedad (36 points)
8. Betis (36 points)
9. Levante (34 points)
10. Valladolid (30 points)
11. Sevilla (29 points)
12. Getafe (29 points)
13. Athletic (29 points)
14. Granada (26 points)
15. Espanyol (25 points)
16. Osasuna (24 points)
17. Zaragoza (24 points)
18. Celta (20 points)
19. Mallorca (17 points)
20. Depor (16 points)