Since we last spoke it’s Sevilla and Barcelona who’ve been celebrating after sealing their places in the Copa Del Rey final, negotiating tricky ties against Leganes and Valencia respectively.
Back to the hard graft of the league programme, we’ll kick-off with Friday night’s glamour game in the north, as Athletic Club welcome the islanders of Las Palmas to Bilbao (8.00pm).
The visitors are on a high after taking six points from a possible nine, the most recent part of which was Alan Halilovic’s late winner in the must-win clash against Málaga on Monday night, which pretty much condemned the latter to the Segunda for 2018/19.
This’ll be much tougher though, and represents a gilt-edged opportunity for the hosts to get back to winning ways and haul themselves higher than 13th, a position which has come about largely due to their penchant for drawing far too many games – indeed seven of their last 11 in the league have finished all square.
However, back at San Mamés against a side who are there for the taking, I expect them to come out on the front foot and grab a confidence booster ahead of next week’s return to the Europa League, in which they face Spartak Moscow away next Thursday.
In front of their own fans against a team who leak goals they should be aggressive early on – grab the evens with Coral about Athletic Bilbao to be winning at half-time.
Moving on to Saturday, another team facing a relegation battle who may very well finish the weekend empty-handed are Alavés, with the Basques facing a very tricky trip to take on Villarreal in the Estadio de la Cerámica.
Fifth-placed Villarreal were unseated away to a mercurial Betis side in Seville last weekend, but these calmer waters look ideal for their own pre-Europa League confidence lift, and I expect them to take all three points in the midday kick-off, with 7/10 top price about the hosts.
Don’t forget they’d won four straight prior to that bad-tempered affair last Saturday, and a return to that sort of form in front of their own crowd seems likely, especially as a victory would at least temporarily lift them into the Champions League places.
Lastly, rock-bottom Málaga have managed just 14 goals in 22 games to date, and now come up against the meanest defence in the land, as second-placed Atlético Madrid visit La Rosaleda (Sat, 3.15pm).
Monday’s demoralising loss against Las Palmas was a massive blow, but don’t expect a grain of sympathy from the visitors, who to date have let in just nine goals!
BetVictor go 5/4 about Atléti winning to nil yet again – that’ll do nicely.
This weekend’s best bets in La Liga:
8.00pm Fri – Athletic Bilbao v Las Palmas – Bilbao to be winning at half-time @ Evs (Coral)
12.00pm Sat – Villarreal v Alavés – Home win @ 7/10 (BetVictor)
3.15pm Sat – Málaga v Atlético Madrid – Atléti to win to nil @ 5/4 (BetVictor)