Soccer Spain LaLiga Prediction
Valencia vs Valladolid - Match Preview
⚽ 27 April 2023 - 17:30 GMT +0
Valencia’s trip to condemned Elche arrived at a seemingly perfect time, with the 2-0 win erasing the points difference to safety heading into this round. Although they remained in the danger zone after that win due to their inferior H2H record against Almeria, the win did end eight consecutive away LL losses for Valencia, consequently delivering interim manager Rubén Baraja his first triumph and clean sheet on the road during his tenure, although the new boss quite rightly insisted the team “hasn't achieved anything yet”.
Baraja has promised the fans “effort and work” continuing with an important home fixture against Valladolid, one of the eight clubs who beat Valencia during that lengthy away losing streak (1-0). Valencia should appreciate the return home, where six of their eight LL wins this season were earned, their home LL record against clubs starting this round in the bottom half (W3, D2, L2) illustrates no opponent can be taken for granted.
Valladolid’s survival is not yet assured, though, back-to-back wins against higher-ranked clubs Villarreal (2-1 away) and Girona (1-0 home) have lifted them from 17th two rounds ago to a much more comfortable 14th at the end of last weekend - five points ahead of Valencia. It has been a near-perfect start for interim boss Paulo Pezzolano, who has collected more points (seven) in his first three matches than his predecessor Pacheta did in his final seven games (five).
That was just the second time Valladolid had strung together three straight LL games without a loss, and the previous involved a 1-0 win at home to Valencia. Already in a tricky situation partly because of a nagging failure to win away to fellow bottom-half opposition (W1, D2, L3), Valladolid also cannot afford complacency despite early signs of a sharp turnaround in form.
📋 Players to watch: If Samu Castillejo and Justin Kluivert remain out through injury, Valencia striker Edinson Cavani would remain just one of two players to score in more than one of their home LL games this season, while 23-year-old Valladolid midfielder Monchu is hitting his stride recently after scoring twice across his last three appearances.
⚡ Hot streak: Valladolid’s last seven LL wins were all by a one-goal margin.
Villarreal vs Espanyol - Match Preview
⚽ 27 April 2023 - 17:30 GMT +0
A pair of La Liga (LL) defeats in eight days, both via a 2-1 scoreline in which they trailed ‘to nil’ at half-time, have probably ended Villarreal’s outside chances of qualifying for next season’s UEFA Champions League. They’re still looking good for European football of some sort, but getting back to winning ways against relegation-threatened Espanyol would help firm up their top-six credentials.
They’ll start as favourites but even winning this meeting here 5-1 last term won’t guarantee anything as that was their first home H2H success since March 2017 (D3, L1). They should be far more encouraged by how well they’ve performed against sides fighting relegation though, as this term they’ve won all four matches here against teams that start the round in the bottom five.
That sounds particularly ominous for struggling Espanyol, whose 0-0 draw against Cádiz on Friday, coupled with other results, left them two points behind their nearest competitors although it did at least break a sequence of six consecutive LL defeats. Ahead of a difficult run-in, including taking on Barcelona and Atlético Madrid, the quicker new boss Luis García gets his first win under his belt the better (D1, L2).
The chances of it coming here seem remote as they’ve lost their last four LL away games and their last two league victories on the road came against fellow strugglers Getafe and Elche. They do remain a threat, as they’ve scored in each of their last ten LL games away from home (W2, D3, L5), doing so exactly once in each of the last six of those (W1, L5).
📋 Players to watch: Villarreal’s Yeremy Pino scored four goals in this H2H last term, although that’s one more than he’s managed in the league in the whole of this season! Martin Braithwaite has scored two of Espanyol’s last four LL away goals, both after the 70th minute.
⚡ Hot stat: Espanyol possess LL’s worst first-half record this term (W1, D14, L15).
Ath Bilbao vs Sevilla - Match Preview
⚽ 27 April 2023 - 20:00 GMT +0
Following a five-match unbeaten La Liga (LL) run (W4, D1), Athletic Bilbao looks primed to make a late assault on the European places. Starting the round just one point shy of sixth place, but collecting more points than any other LL side across the five rounds prior, Athletic are certainly hitting form at the right time and ought to be confident of securing back-to-back LL home wins for the first time in 2023 when Sevilla come to town.
Victories are certainly something Athletic are accustomed to when they host Sevilla, collecting a half-century of top-flight home wins (W50, D10, L18). Regardless of how impressive that historical top-flight home H2H record is, for Athletic to improve upon that here they will have to overcome the psychological barrier of losing each of their last four Thursday-held LL home games.
Conquerors of Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals, Sevilla repeated their European heroics in LL at the weekend with a 2-1 victory against Villarreal. That win further soothed any relegation fears, but with an eight-point cushion to the drop zone ahead of the round, Sevilla can’t yet sit comfortably.
A continuation of their impressive away form under new boss José Luis Mendilibar (W2, D1) would certainly go some way to securing another LL season. That success has largely been built on scoring goals, with all three of those games seeing Sevilla score exactly twice. Considering all six strikes arrived after half-time, many expect Sevilla to showcase their ability to grow into games.
📋 Players to watch: It’s no coincidence to see Athletic striker Iñaki Williams and his club enjoying greater success in recent weeks, for 16 of his last 19 competitive goalscoring appearances have been winning ones (D3)! Youssef En-Nesyri was Sevilla’s hero at the weekend but he’s well averse to losing here, tasting defeat in four of his five personal LL away H2Hs.
⚡ Hot stat: Only Real Madrid (11) have seen more of their LL goals this season scored by defenders than Sevilla’s nine.
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