Saturday’s La Liga previews: 2012/13 – round 19

11 Jan

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Valladolid v Mallorca

Benefitting from a ridiculous error in a game they wouldn’t have otherwise scored in, Valladolid scored away to Celta in round eighteen, but lost 3-1. Without Ebert, Oscar and Manucho I’d have considered you brave or crazy to expect Djukic’s team to score that day, but score they did!

In their round eighteen fixture, Mallorca drew 1-1 at home to an Atletico Madrid side devoid of top scorer Falcao. Trailing 1-0 and undeserving of taking any points from the game, Kevin scored the Islanders equaliser in the 87th minute to gain a point.

In conclusion, Manucho is still away at the African Nations, but Oscar returns and Ebert should be fit to start – enough to defeat a Mallorca side that has failed to win twelve or their last thirteen La Liga games.

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Espanyol v Celta de Vigo

As any sane gambler would have expected, Barcelona comfortably defeated Catalan neighbours Espanyol last weekend. What wasn’t expected, however, was how quickly Aguirre’s shell socked charges were put to the sword at Camp Nou – four goals down in only thirty minutes!

What Espanyol, who were previously undefeated under Aguirre, must now do is to shake off this bruising loss, pull their selves together and concentrate on gaining all three points in a very winnable home game against a Celta team that played in the Copa midweek.

Now, Celta, who beat Valladolid 3-1 in Vigo last weekend, did rest a few players in their 4-0 defeat at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night, but those that did play then and will feature this weekend will surely feel the pace in Barcelona.

In conclusion, Espanyol haven’t been great at home this season, but they are undefeated at Cornella El Prat since Javier Aguirre took over and Celta have lost eight out of nine road games in 2012/13 La Liga.

Recommendation: Espanyol – 0.25 Asian handicap (1.95)

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Osasuna v Real Madrid

Kike Sola had a goal harshly ruled out for handball, but otherwise Osasuna created few clear cut chances in their eventual 1-0 defeat away to Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan last weekend. Midweek, away to Valencia, Osasuna lost 2-1 in the Copa del Rey and were eliminated 4-1 on aggregate.

Real Madrid, in their round eighteen fixture, defeated Real Sociedad 4-3 in an eventful game which saw goalkeeper Adnan sent off in the first ten minutes. Benzema, Khedira and Ronaldo (brace) were the Blancos scorers.

Jose’s Real Madrid also played midweek, defeating Celta Vigo 4-0 in their second leg Copa del Rey clash. Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in this game, with Khedira adding the fourth goal in injury time. All in all, however, Real Madrid played poorly in the second half, had Ramos sent off and scored two very late goals to make for a flattering result.

In conclusion, Ronaldo, Ramos and Pepe will miss this game – and Los Blancos, bar last season’s staggering 5-0 win, usually struggle in Pamplona.

Therefore, ignore last season, take note of the players missing and back either both teams to score or Osasuna + 1 Asian handicap. I’ve backed BTTS at 1.8, but it was simply my instinct play.

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Valencia v Sevilla

Though they had to come from a goal down away to a ten man team, Los Che eventually defeated Granada 2-1, with Jonas and Piatti their scorers. It was a result that moved Valencia up to eighth position in the 2012/13 La Liga standings – four points off fourth placed Malaga.

Sevilla lumbered to a 1-0 defeat of Osasuna at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, with Spahic scoring the only goal of the game. Days later in the Copa del Rey, the Rojiblancos lost 2-1 at home to Mallorca. However, they were 5-0 up from the first leg and rested most of their regulars like Negredo, so not matter in the grand scheme of things.

In conclusion, Sevilla have defeated Valencia in two of their last three visits to the Mestalla, but on each occasion the circumstances were right – i.e. Valencia were in poor form and Sevilla weren’t. This time Valencia, shaky as they have looked at times, have won their last three games (in all competitions) and have a very strong (league) home record of six wins, one draw and two defeats at home.

In all competitions, Sevilla, on the other hand, have lost two of their last three games and have a league away record consisting of one win, three draws and five defeats. Therefore, all in all, it seems best to go with Los Che on this occasion.

Recommendation: Valencia (2.08)

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