La Quiniela: Real Madrid to beat Getafe and Barcelona to lose to Levante

Not a fan of claiming victory before the ref blows the final whistle, but I do have a comforting feeling of vindication after the first leg of this round of European football.

Villarreal defeated Bayern – undefeated away at the Champions League in their last 22 matches –, Real Madrid prevailed vs. the current champions and Atletico made one of their most perfect defensive jobs – and that is saying a lot – while losing 1-0 to the overwhelming City after conceding only two shots on goal. With significantly less money than our Premier League competitors, it’s impressive how competitive La Liga sides have remained when they have to show up to play in Europe.

Of course, Villarreal have an almost impossible task in Munich, Atleti will struggle to score against City and Real Madrid can’t afford to lose focus against Chelsea – remember Juventus a few years ago? – but I guess this first leg of the current round has proven we can still challenge the best. Fingers crossed for next week.

Shall we? Remember, it’s ‘1’ for a home win, ‘X’ for a draw and ‘2’ for an away win.

  1. Sevilla (4th) vs Granada (16th). 8/4, 21:00

Eduardo Alvarez:  1. Well, if there’s a must win match for Sevilla, this is it. Andalusian derby, tied in points with Barcelona and Atletico – both caught the Sevillistas in points after the results last weekend – and no midweek football for them. If they get all three points, they can sit and wait for the obviously tired Atleti and Barça to slip up. Sevilla will go at Granada with everything they have, and that should be enough. I know, Granada have reacted with four points in the last two matches, but this seems like a very tall order for them. 

Phil Ball: X. You have to believe me, and I’m a believable sort of guy, surely? I’m not watching the Friday night game, which has just started.  I think that Sevilla’s season is kind of over, and that their main motivation is not simply to stay in the top four, but finish above Betis. The two things are intimately connected.  The trouble is, Granada are looking better in the post Moreno phase, and I think they’ll sink the sword even further. Draw.

  1. Cádiz (17th) vs Betis (5th). 9/4, 14:00

EA: 1. You may think I’m kidding, but no. This is a classic trap match for Betis, as they’ll be already thinking of the Copa del Rey final and Cadiz desperately need three points. Betis will miss the in-shape William Carvalho, who has recently shown an amazing taste for golazos. In any case, it’s going to be an ugly win for the home side. 

PB: X. I can’t make my mind up about Betis now. I thought they’d run out of steam, and then they go and stuff Osasuna, and quite easily in the end.  But this is a crucial game for both sides, and Fekir, Canales and teddy-bear Borja are back.  Betis have Real Sociedad breathing down their neck too, but Cádiz are hardly safe yet. They’ve only lost once in the last seven. I think they’ll cancel each other out. Draw.

  1. Mallorca (18th) vs Atlético de Madrid (3rd). 9/4, 16:15

EA: 1. And here we are. Mallorca finally managed to get to the relegation zone after a miserable second half of the season, and they face Atleti in their quest to get out of there as soon as possible. Atleti are in a very tough spot, as they face City next Wednesday but they should not rest that many players if they want to keep up with Sevilla and Barcelona, and / or keep the four-point advantage with Betis. Even if Diego Simeone doesn’t rest any players, I struggle to see Atleti focused enough for this one, and Mallorca know they need the victory here.

PB: 2. Good analysis sir, and you did thrash me last week, but I can’t see this one happening. Simeone won’t allow a drop in performance, a lack of focus because indeed, their Champs league spot is by far from guaranteed. Maybe a draw, okay – but I can’t see Mallorca troubling them. They’re on six straight defeats now. Let’s call this the seventh. And by the way, in case you didn’t hear it, Ed’s defence of Atlético on the BBC last week was brilliant. In fact, he was the only person on there who was making any sense.

  1. Villarreal (7th) vs Athletic de Bilbao (8th). 9/4. 18:30

EA: X. The most interesting match of the weekend, by far. One point of difference between both teams, access to European competitions in play, and one rested team (Athletic) playing away at the home of an extremely tired one (Villarreal) who on top of that have their own challenge on Tuesday vs Bayern Munich. If you can guess this one correctly, I’ll tip my hat. In my case, I’ll go for a non-committal X. Not sure Athletic have enough offensive accuracy to win consistently, especially against top level sides, and I’m sure Villarreal will not be 100% focused on this one.

PB: 2. Yeah – tricky one, but Villarreal always are. They’re the quiniela writer’s nightmare. The problem for the hosts, however, is that Athletic are the sort of side who force you to roll up your sleeves, and that’s an unlikely action for a side preparing to travel to Munich for a potentially historic night. And don’t forget, before they beat Bayern, Villarreal lost to Cádiz – a result I called (sorry – blowing my trumpet). Athletic will win this, despite the continued absence of Iñigo Martinez.

  1. Real Madrid (1st) vs Getafe (14th). 9/4, 21:00

EA: 1. Here’s hope that Carletto rotates at least for this match, although it’s one of those hopeless hopes. Seems like Absentio has finally lost his starting lineup job, and now we’ll see plenty of Fede on the right. Given that Ancelotti is not keen on rotations, he’ll play the same side on Saturday and Tuesday. That is bad for Getafe and good for Chelsea. 

PB: 1. Ha ha – good one Ed!  Carlo is indeed not keen on rotations because there are so few to rotate….but yes, there won’t be much peace for the wicked, as my gran used to say. I actually think that Absentio will start, and Bale too, probably. I think we might see a few chaps being put into the sales window now, so Isco and Ceballos might get some minutes too. Result?  Getafe haven’t lost in three, but they have a medium-to-tough run-in and aren’t quite safe as yet. They might frustrate RM, but I can’t see anything other than a home win.

  1. Osasuna (10th) vs Alavés (20th). 10/4, 14:00

EA: X. Will Osasuna lend Alaves a hand now that the latter are bottom of the table and the former sit comfortably in the half-way zone? I’d like to think that’s not going to be the case, but you never know. Neither team have been playing well of late, and it’s hard to think of reasons to discuss this match further. Stalemate written all over it.

PB: 1. If Mendilibar was still at Alavés, then Jagoba – a mate of his – might have been tempted to do what Ed is suggesting, but now that he’s gone, I can’t see it. Osasuna lost badly at Betis last week and will need to restore some faith, despite their mid-table comfort. Alavés are down, despite new man’s (Julio Velázquez) understandable but horrific string of clichés this week, when asked whether he could keep them up. Home win.

  1. Espanyol (12th) vs Celta (11th). 10/4, 16:15

EA: 1. At this point of the season some matches are must watch (like Villarreal – Athletic) and some are absolutely useless, like this one. No motivation on either side, a bunch of decent players that should have done better in both teams… Freed from the pressure of the rankings, we may see a couple of golazos here, or an incredibly dull match. I’ll favour the home team and Raul de Tomas.

PB: 1. Yes – I have to agree. Both of them seem to have given up the season, and are going through the motions. I saw Espanyol in the flesh last week and was severely unimpressed, although my eyes were constantly straying to Sergi Darder.  What a player! How has he managed to stay so stubbornly under the radar for so long? Home win.

  1. Elche (15th) vs Real Sociedad (6th). 10/4, 18:30

EA: 1. Real Sociedad have reacted well to Oyarzabal’s injury, and even found a new competent penalty taker in Isaak. That said, at some point something has to give, and I’m pretty sure they are going to suffer against the most Argentinean side in LaLiga. Ugly home win, a couple of sending offs and plenty of shithousery. 

PB: X. Hmmm – ok. I’d not seen it that way. For me, RS are improving now that they only have one game per week, and others are indeed stepping up in Oyar’s absence. They’ll have Januzaj back for this one, although Merino’s big toe is still troubling him – poor chap. Elche are indeed the sort of side that the noble innocents of RS tend to do poorly against, but I still think they’ll manage a point to preserve that 6th spot.

  1. Levante (19th) vs Barcelona (2nd). 10/4, 21:00

EA: 1. Yes, I’m tipping Levante to win this one. Barcelona are in an impressive streak of results, but we do see a few things that the Levantinos can exploit: the fullback positions, the transition defence, the lack of pause when the match opens up… Xavi has added a lot of intensity to the side, and with that some messy situations in terms of match management. Levante have improved in the last seven matches, they left the bottom of the table last weekend and they’ll be dying to defeat a shell-shocked Barcelona after their torture in Frankfurt. On top of that, we’ll see some rotations in Barcelona’s side plus Pique’s injury, and we know that the second unit is especially weak in certain positions. Upset of the weekend. 

PB: X. Well that’s a brave call. Levante are indeed showing signs of life, but as the old Spanish joke goes, it might just be the worms moving the corpse. Whatever it is, they need to keep winning now and Barça will indeed be thinking about next Thursday. Good call Ed, but I can’t quite see it. I’ll fence sit and go for the draw.

  1. Rayo Vallecano (13th) vs Valencia (9th). 11/4, 21:00

EA: 1. Looks easy on paper: Rayo need three points to make sure they don’t get into trouble at the end of the season, and Valencia don’t care about any other match that is not the Copa del Rey final. Easy home win, and could even become a thrashing, because I’m sure Rayo would love to send Bordalás back to Valencia with a few goals to keep him warm.

PB: 1. Not sure about the thrashing, but Rayo were unluckily last week and look to have recovered some of their early-season spirit. Valencia are just boring everyone silly now, and so deserve to lose. And I don’t like their coach very much – whose politics the Rayo fans won’t like much either. Should be some sparks actually, but yes, home win.

Aggregate results:

Phil Ball: 50/90

Eduardo Alvarez: 45/90 (got 8/10 last weekend, it had been a while)

Tags Getafe La Liga Real Madrid

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