Soccer Spain LaLiga Prediction
Ath Bilbao vs Real Sociedad - Match Preview
⚽ 15 April 2023 - 14:15 GMT +0
Athletic Bilbao has taken on the role of villain in recent weeks, hurting the survival chances of both Espanyol (W 2-1) and Valladolid (W 3-1) whilst keeping their own hopes of European football in 2023/24 alive. Now it’s time to be heroes and deliver their faithful fans their first home La Liga (LL) win in two months after three hiccups (D1, L2), albeit one of which was an admirable 1-0 loss to league leaders Barcelona.
Delighted manager Ernesto Valverde described the win at Espanyol as “worth more than three points … it was a test for the team, and for the fans, so they could see we had a reaction in us.” A series of failed tests against the top four clubs of the league (L6 from six attempts) has kept them out of contention throughout the season and doesn’t bode well here when looking to avenge a 3-1 loss away to upcoming opponents, fourth-placed Real Sociedad, back in January.
After he handed rival manager Ernesto Valverde his first loss to Sociedad in nearly seven years, Sociedad boss Imanol Alguacil survived a rocky seven-game period (W1, D4, L2) but still maintained their best top-flight season in 20 years with back-to-back 2-0 home wins against Elche and Getafe. Elimination from the Europa League appears to have been a blessing in disguise as demonstrated by their immediate lift in domestic results.
Between those two wins was a third consecutive LL away trip without success (D1, L2), two of which were against bottom-half opposition. That understandably raises concern about how they are going to fare in the first of what is five remaining LL away trips against clubs in the top eight alongside Athletic heading into this round, particularly as they could not grab a win in either of the previous two (D1, L1).
📋 Players to watch: Oihan Sancet scored in Athletic’s last LL home win as well as his last two appearances against Sociedad. The referee will certainly need to watch him carefully after he was booked in four of his last five games for club or country. Sociedad would almost certainly benefit from Alexander Sörloth returning to scoring form, as he has won all 11 of his competitive goalscoring appearances this season.
⚡ Hot stat: All but one of Sociedad’s last 11 LL games, including the seven most recent, produced fewer than 2.5 total goals.
Betis vs Espanyol - Match Preview
⚽ 15 April 2023 - 16:30 GMT +0
Though still hopeful of finishing in a UEFA Champions League qualification spot, Real Betis suffered a humiliating Easter Sunday shock last time out. Manuel Pellegrini’s stunned charges fell to a 2-0 defeat against heavy underdogs Cádiz, after going down to nine men in a show of indiscipline, and duly ended the weekend six points adrift of the top-four in La Liga (LL).
In a gloomy aftermath, the red-carded Sergio Canales sent out an apology on Twitter. However, the temporary lift on his four-game ban can only boost morale, as well as Betis’ chances of clawing points back from any deficit, though that is something the Andalusian side has failed to do the last four times they’ve conceded first in the home league game.
As for Espanyol, only a win – and a first league double over Betis since 2016/17 – gives them any chance of escaping the bottom three here. A preceding run of five straight losses suggests that it’s unlikely, but the Blanquiazules have at least scored in each of their previous 14 LL outings, suggesting that emulating last season’s 42-point haul isn’t just a mere fantasy.
Judging by the league’s more recent survival scraps, such a tally should be enough to secure a third straight season of top-flight membership for Espanyol, but after four losses in five away trips, they simply have to improve on the road to get anywhere near that. This bleak sequence of results on hostile turf also saw them concede in each half on three occasions.
📋 Players to watch: Scorer of Betis’ first goal in their last two wins, Borja Iglesias faces his old side once again. He hit a double against them in January 2022 (W 4-1), before Espanyol’s Martin Braithwaite avenged it a year to the day later with the sole goal in this season’s reverse clash! However, his only prior away goal against Betis (in August 2019) ended in a 2-1 win for the home side.
⚡ Hot stat: Only LL leaders Barcelona can match Espanyol’s haul of seven away league goals scored between the 61st-75th minute.
Cadiz CF vs Real Madrid - Match Preview
⚽ 15 April 2023 - 19:00 GMT +0
With only ten rounds to go, the La Liga relegation battle continues to intensify with just a nine-point gap separating Espanyol in 19th and Celta Vigo in 10th heading into the weekend’s fixtures! Cádiz sit somewhere in the middle of that shake-up after a hugely impressive 2-0 win at Real Betis in their last outing.
Sergio González’s men now take their survival bid back home where they’ve lost just one of their last 11 league matches (W4, D6) and subsequently earned 18 of their 31 points this term. The visit of Real Madrid represents a huge threat to that positive record, but there’s plenty of reason for confidence at the Nuevo Mirandilla, as Cádiz have avoided defeat in three of the five H2H meetings since returning to the top-flight (W1, D2, L2).
Carlo Ancelotti’s men make the trip on the back of a comfortable 2-0 UEFA Champions League victory over Chelsea in midweek, meaning Los Blancos already have one foot in the semi-finals of a competition they are looking to retain. Progression in Europe has been crucial considering their domestic title defence is in tatters as the deficit to runaway leaders Barcelona grew to 13 points at the weekend following a 3-2 defeat at home to Villarreal, a match which saw them twice squander the lead.
Reducing the deficit - or even holding onto second place - now depends on an improvement on the road where Real has failed to win their last two games in the league. Ancelotti may have in the back of his mind the trip to Chelsea in midweek as Real seeks to avoid going three away matches without a victory since the end of the 2018/19 season.
📋 Key battle: Cádiz midfielder Rubén Alcaraz is likely to be at the forefront of the action, as he’s scored or been yellow carded in five of his last eight appearances. Toni Kroos will be up against him in a buoyant mood after having a direct hand in both goals in Real’s 2-1 win in this season’s reverse fixture.
⚡ Hot stat: Real Madrid have scored in both halves of 13 of their league games this season, the most in Spain’s top-flight.
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