With the international break done and dusted, one which yielded a creditable draw away to Germany plus a whopping 6-1 home win against Argentina for the Spanish national side, we resume domestic affairs on matchday 30.
The fixtures kick-off at midday on Saturday with the season’s surprise package, Girona, welcoming a now slightly more comfortable but not safe yet 17th-placed Levante, at the 13,500 capacity Montilivi.
Prior to the break, Levante scrapped their way to seven points from a possible nine, doing it the ugly but ultimately effective way with wins against Getafe (0 1) and Eibar (2 1).
That’s ensured a valuable six point cushion down to Las Palmas in 18th, who themselves have plenty on their plate this weekend with Real Madrid pitching up in the Canary Islands, notably featuring a forward line that may include Isco, fresh from his hat-trick against the Argentines.
Can Levante profit and pull even further clear? I doubt it.
Girona play some good stuff under the watchful eye of experienced boss Pablo Machin, and though they’ve come unstuck against the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Sevilla, you’ve been able to set your watch by them in recent weeks when they’ve come up against the lesser lights, winning to nil against all of Leganes, Celta Vigo, Villarreal and Deportivo.
As such, and with Levante now able to breathe a little easier, I expect this to go the way of Girona at 13/20.
There’s further incentive for Girona to deliver because if they do win, they’ll at least temporarily climb up into sixth position, though my suspicion is they may still be there come Sunday morning after Sevilla, who currently occupy that spot, take on runaway leaders Barcelona at the wonderful Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán on Saturday night (7.45pm).
One of Europe’s most atmospheric grounds, its occupants get to see their side take on the champions elect on Saturday night, and then 72 hours later the same venue plays host to their Champions League quarter final first leg against Bayern Munich.
With Barca in such formidable form you could forgive the hosts for having half an eye on their midweek make or break tie in Europe’s premier competition, and at any rate the visitors have been phenomenal season, undefeated in the league with just 13 conceded and a massive 74 scored so far – 2.55 per game on average!
To be fair, Barcelona have also got Champions League action to prepare for, their home game against Roma on Wednesday but all the same I expect them to emerge victorious from Andalusia – they beat Sevilla 2-1 at home in November on a day remembered for being Leo Messi’s 600th appearance, and can complete the double.
This weekend’s best bets in La Liga:
Sat 12.00pm – Girona v Levante – Home Win @ 13/20
Sat 7.45pm – Sevilla v Barcelona – Away Win @ 3/4