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La Liga betting tips: Derby joy for Sevilla, routine wins for Barcelona and Real, Valencia to be caught cold

June 10, 2020

WE have all gorged on the Bundesliga in the absence of other major European football, and now it's the turn of La Liga to unveil its revised, near daily schedule of live football that seeks to resolve the 2020/21 season.

Unlike the Bundesliga, there is jeopardy in the Spanish title race with just two points separating Barcelona and Real Madrid at the top. Elsewhere, five sides compete for the two remaining Champions League spots, and anyone from 11th-placed Osasuna down can still get relegated. This is one European season that's going all the way to the wire. Here are six tips for Week 1.

 

Sevilla vs Real Betis | Thursday June 11, 21:00 GMT
 

As Spain boss, Julen Lopetegui was sacked for taking the Real Madrid job just before World Cup 2018. As Real Madrid boss, he lasted just 14 matches before being sacked. Lopetegui has taken a lot of justified criticism in his fledgling managerial career, but as Sevilla boss, he's not given nearly enough credit. 27 games into his debut campaign, it's only Barcelona and Real Madrid who sit above them. 

This is the biggest match of Sevilla's season: win and they could create a buffer between themselves in third and other Champions League hopefuls; lose and they could find themselves sixth. Having won 2-1 at the Benito Villamarin earlier this season, the Rojiblancos can complete their first league double over Betis since 2017. Sevilla have won five of their last six home games against their great rivals who in turn have won just once away from home all season.

As for who is most likely to do the damge, look no further than Lucas Ocampos who had embarked on a four-match scoring streak before the league's suspencions. No Sevilla player has scored in five straight league matches for nine years, but with the world watching, and Sevilla's top four hopes on the line, back Ocampos to step up.

Match Odds: Sevilla (17/20) Draw (14/5) Real Betis (3/1)
Tip: Lucas Ocampos to score any time (11/5)
Correct score: Sevilla 2-0 Real Betis (8/1)
 

Valencia vs Levante | Friday June 12, 21:00 GMT
 

Valencia have lost just two of their last 35 La Liga encounters at the Mestalla, which ought to serve them well against a Levante side that has lost five straight away games and conceded at least two in each. However, as the restarted Bundesliga has demonstrated, home advantage just ain't what it used to be. Pre-lockdown, 43.3% of 2019/20 Bundesliga matches were won by the home team – that's dropped to just 21.7%. It'll be interesting to see whether the Mestalla, one of Spain's most hostile venues, follows suit.

Valencia also have a flimsy defence – the sixth worst in the Spanish top flight this season in fact – and those frailties were laid bare when Atlanta put eight past them over two legs of their Champions League last 16 tie. Coupled with a run of just one win in five La Liga outings pre-lockdown, Albert Celades has a job on his hands to pick his side up, particularly after a three-month lay off. They could be caught cold against Levante.

Match Odds: Valencia (7/10) Draw (16/5) Levante (17/5)
Tip: Both teams to score (4/7)
Correct score: Valencia 1-1 Levante (7/1)

 

 

Celta Vigo vs Villarreal | Saturday June 13, 16:00 GMT

 

Celta will be delighted to have a home game to kick off the restart. One point outside the relegation zone as they are, every point is vital for a side who really ought to be too good to go down. Despite their perilous position, they actually come into this game on the back of three wins and two draws in five games, albeit three months ago. It could have been so much worse for the Galician side.

They also have a handy recent record against Villarreal – three straight wins in fact including a 3-1 victory in November. Win here and Óscar García Junyent's can put some distance between themselves and the relegation zone, but that will be no easy feat against a Villarreal side who have only been outscored by Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Real Sociedad this season. That scoring has pulled them into top six and possibly even top four contention, and if star striker Gerard Moreno can pick up where he left off – three goals in his last five games – Celta could find it a tricky afternoon. The draw looks a distinct possibility in this encounter.

Match Odds: Celta Vigo (8/5) Draw (23/10) Villarreal (7/4)
Tip: Gerard Moreno to score any time (23/10)
Correct score: Celta Vigo 2-2 Villarreal (23/2)

 

Mallorca vs Barcelona | Saturday June 13, 21:00 GMT
 

If the Bundesliga trend of away results improving spills over to La Liga, that's good news for Barcelona who have racked up more away defeats this season (5) than they have in any season since 2007/08, and conceded two goals in each of their last five away matches. Barca will at least be boosted by the return of Luis Suarez who is one of the players whose season-ending injury was rendered mere rest by La Liga's suspension. 

With Suarez through the centre for Barca, Antoine Griezmann on the right and Lionel Messi on the left, it's tough to imagine Mallorca's defence holding firm here – Messi alone has 11 goals in his last six games against Los Bermellones, including two hat-tricks. After a poor campaign by Barcelona's usual high standards, the lockdown has afforded a break the Blaugrana sorely needed. With Real Madrid just a point behind in second place, Barca need to hit the ground running. That seems likely against Mallorca.

Match Odds: Mallorca (17/2) Draw (5/1) Barcelona (2/7)
Tip: Messi to score two or more (11/4)
Correct score: Mallorca 1-4 Barcelona (14/1)

Athletic Bilbao vs Atletico Madrid  | Sunday June 13, 14:30 GMT
 

Between December 8 and Feburary 23, Bilbao put together their worst run of the season – collecting just six points out of a possible 30 – before wins over Villarreal and Real Valladolid at set up a chance here for the first run of the campaign. Gaizka Garitano's side have not won three straight in La Liga all year, but they have a chance here.

Similarly, Atletico had managed to get their patchy campaign back on track – five games without a win in January, six games without defeat thereafter culminating in the incredible comeback extra-time win at Anfield. Neverthless, Atleti find themselves outside the top four – they can't afford any repeat of January's struggles.

To that end, Bilbao might represent a good start – a glance at the head-to-head record suggests Atletico have their number. In 19 games under Diego Simeone, the Madrid side have won 15 and drawn two. And this time Bilbao will be without legendary striker, Aritz Aduriz, who retired during lockdown. Back Atletico to get the win.

Match Odds: Athletic Bilbao (13/5) Draw (2/1) Atletico Madrid (13/10)
Tip: Atletico Madrid to win to nil (47/20)
Correct score: Athletic Bilbao 0-1 Atletico Madrid (5/1)

 

Real Madrid vs Eibar | Sunday June 14, 18:30 GMT

 

Real Madrid are yet to lose a home game this season – played 13, won nine. The last time Los Blancos remained unbeaten at the Bernabeu at this stage of a campaign was 2016/17 when Zinedine Zidane got his hands on his first and only La Liga trophy. Resilience, particularly at home, has been Real's cornerstone this season.

In fact they boast the defence in Europe's top five leagues with just 19 goals conceded with 10 of their 16 victories coming with clean sheets as Thibaut Courtois finally found form between the sticks. With Eibar managing just two goals in five previous trips to the Bernabeu in La Liga, the outlook is encouraging for Real here.

But who will do the damage? Unfortunately for Zidane, there has only been one answer to that all season: Karim Benzema. The 14-goal French frontman has scored as many as Real's next four top scorers combined this seaon, and also happens to have bagged a brace in each of his last two appearances against Eibar. Back Benzema to make the difference here.

Match Odds: Real Madrid (1/4) Draw (11/2)  Eibar (9/1)
Tip: Karim Benzema to score first and Real Madrid to win (3/1)
Correct score: Real Madrid 2-0 Eibar (23/4)