Soccer Spain LaLiga Prediction
Girona vs Espanyol - Match Preview
⚽ 1 April 2023 - 16:00 GMT +0
Out of realistic contention for Europe and likely just a few wins from guaranteeing their safety, few could blame Girona for looking towards next season. But with a point rescued from a half-time deficit to Rayo Vallecano in their most recent outing, and two equalisers seeing them enter the international break as La Liga (LL)’s most prolific scorers across the previous five rounds, there is life in Míchel’s men yet!
Although Girona lost 1-0 to Atlético Madrid in their last home outing, that was also just the third time during 2022/23 that a clash at Estadi Municipal de Montilivi has seen the Catalonian side shut out on their turf. Whilst their defence has posted just a solitary home clean sheet so far, a perfect home record after netting the opening goal (W5) speaks for itself.
Regional rivals Espanyol began the international break hovering just one point above the bottom three, after a 3-1 loss to Celta Vigo condemned them to a pointless March (L3). Poor starts remain a theme, with that loss being their fourth consecutive LL game to see at least one goal conceded before half-time, while they also remain the league’s poorest first-half scorers (eight goals).
On a brighter note, Espanyol have failed to score in only one of their away league games played this term, with goals beyond the one-hour mark in all but the most recent of the Blanquiazules’ previous eight LL road trips. That ought to provide some much-needed confidence as they seek to make it three wins from as many top-flight visits to Girona.
📋 Players to watch: The home side on the day is yet to win a top-flIght H2H (D1, L4), but Girona’s Viktor Tsygankov could change that if he emulates the performance that saw him net both goals against Rayo. Espanyol’s Sergi Darder has proven to be a lucky charm here, getting at least one goal contribution in both prior LL away H2Hs (G1, A2).
⚡ Hot stat: Five of the seven prior H2Hs produced a 1-0 half-time scoreline.
Ath Bilbao vs Getafe - Match Preview
⚽ 1 April 2023 - 18:15 GMT +0
Questions about his knowledge of Barcelona’s alleged misdemeanours during his title-winning season in 2017/18 is not the distraction that Athletic Bilbao manager Ernesto Valverde needs as he seeks to close the five-point gap to sixth-placed Villarreal. That’s not to mention that between their two upcoming La Liga (LL) outings, Athletic also have to overturn a 1-0 deficit to Osasuna in the home leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final tie.
At least Valverde was able to move on from a frustrating home loss to Barça by completing a LL H2H double over Valladolid with a 3-1 win in their last outing, ending a four-game winless LL run (D1, L3). Perhaps the greatest relief for Athletic fans would have been seeing their side score the opening goal for the first time in seven competitive matches, and the club would benefit enormously from making a habit of that after accumulating one of the league’s finest win rates when scoring first (W8, D1, L0).
Getafe climbed out of the relegation zone as one of just six clubs to win three of their last five LL games (D1, L1) prior to the break, making the most of three home games against bottom-half opposition in a short space of time (W3). Manager Quique Sánchez Flores and his players can’t yet relax though, knowing they begin this round amid an eight-point squeeze between ninth and 19th place in the table.
The international break gave Getafe plenty of time to sharpen up ahead of a crucial quartet of matches against sides above them in the standings, which could set them up for a successful end to the season if they can get through it relatively unscathed. Having so far taken points home from four of seven LL trips to such opposition (W1, D3, L3), Getafe may be able to repeat the drawn reverse H2H (2-2) even despite their ongoing six-game LL away run without a clean sheet (D2, L4).
📋 Players to watch: Raúl García is Athletic’s most recent goalscorer not only in home LL games but also in H2Hs. Thanks in part to his role as a penalty taker, Enes Ünal has now scored in six of Getafe’s last seven LL games.
⚡ Hot streak: Getafe’s last nine competitive losses were all by a slim one-goal margin.
Cadiz CF vs Sevilla - Match Preview
⚽ 1 April 2023 - 20:30 GMT +0
Cádiz’s La Liga (LL) draws with fellow relegation contenders Almería (1-1) and Getafe (2-2) before the international break could be seen as handy points or missed opportunities, depending on how these next few game weeks go. But as the fight to rise above a compact bottom half intensifies, their six remaining fixtures against opposition placed lower than tenth going into the round will become increasingly crucial.
Separated only by goal difference from Sevilla, Cádiz cannot afford to repeat the 1-0 away loss suffered in the reverse H2H, but they shouldn’t expect to do so having carried LL’s third-longest undefeated home run (W4, D6) into the break. Those of a more pessimistic nature may point to Cádiz’s streak of home games against sides starting this match week in the bottom eight, such as Sevilla, and highlight they failed to win on every occasion (D4).
After they were overtaken in the league by Getafe following their last outing (2-0), Sevilla’s board decided the international break was the ideal opportunity to take their worst season since 1999/2000 in a new direction yet again. Jose Luis Mendilibar, the 62-year-old whose most recent LL sojourns ended with a bottom-place finish with Eibar in 2020/21 before winning just one of 12 games (D4, L7) at Alavés the following season, became Sevilla’s third boss of this term.
Mendilibar spoke of the difficulties of not being able to meet several key players at his first training session due to their national team duties but was keen to point out the squad is full of great footballers who are just “mentally down” because of their situation. He also asked for patience to allow him and his staff time to gel with the team, yet Sevilla’s final four games of the LL season include three contests with current top-five opposition, none of whom they have yet defeated, so Mendilibar’s players probably need to hit the ground running and pick up some points soon.
📋 Players to watch: After his second-half penalty in the last LL home game, Rubén Sobrino’s last six goals for Cádiz have all been at home and scored beyond the 30th minute. Youssef En-Nesyri is Sevilla’s last scorer in a LL away game and should be feeling optimistic after starting in Morocco’s inaugural win against Brazil.
⚡ Hot stat: All but two of Cádiz’s last 12 LL matches produced fewer than 2.5 total goals.
Elche vs Barcelona - Match Preview
⚽ 1 April 2023 - 23:00 GMT +0
Rock-bottom of La Liga (LL) and 14 points adrift of safety ahead of the league’s resumption, Elche wielded the axe on Pablo Machín during the international break, appointing Sebastián Beccacece as their fourth manager of the campaign. While this remains his first experience in Spain, the 42-year-old Argentine believes “adaptation isn’t going to be a problem” as he aims to become the club’s seventh manager to win his first top-flight game in charge.
The prospects of securing that feat against runaway league leaders Barcelona appear slim, as do Elche’s chances of beating the drop despite having picked up four points from their last three league games (W1, D1, L1), just one fewer than what they accumulated from 12 games prior. With a new-found confidence, and considering 26% of Elche’s league goals have arrived within the first 15 minutes, the hosts will likely try to catch out Barça early.
Amid ongoing financial issues, Barcelona went into the break with a 2-1 win over El Clásico rivals Real Madrid, opening up a 12-point lead atop of LL with 12 games remaining. While the Catalan giants are taking steps to add another trophy to their cabinet on the pitch, they’re also laying claim off it too, pleading with the Spanish Football Federation to be awarded the 1937 league title which at the time took place unofficially due to the Spanish civil war.
Back to present times, Barça haven’t lost a top-flight H2H against Elche since December 1974, including seven straight wins. It’s hard to see that record not extending here for a Barça side who have won 11 of their last 13 away league games, but those wins have been closely fought contests, with six coming by a 1-0 scoreline, which was coincidentally the same score as in their last league defeat to Elche nearly 50 years ago!
📋 Players to watch: New Elche boss Sebastián Beccacece could be hoping for a scoring performance from his fellow Argentine Ezequiel Ponce, whose last two scoring appearances in the league ended in 1-1 draws. For Barcelona, Robert Lewandowski scored a brace in the reverse fixture and is hoping to halt a five-game scoring drought for club and country.
⚡ Hot stat: There has been at least one red card in 11 of Elche’s last 26 LL matches, including the reverse fixture.
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