Atletico Madrid v Betis
A controversial VAR decision in the dying minutes on Thursday saw Levante grab a late penalty equaliser in their 2-2 draw with Atletico. That’s now back-to-back 2-2 stalemates for Diego Simeone’s men, which come after a 3-2 defeat to Liverpool in Europe. High scoring games are not commonplace with Los Rojiblancos, though with their two goals conceded in midweek coming from the spot, we wouldn’t expect the same outcome here on home soil.
Betis have climbed into the top four off the back of three successive victories and while recent wins over Rayo Vallecano and Valencia are impressive, both came on home soil, while their only clash with one of the ‘big three’ so far this season came as a 1-0 defeat to Real Madrid, so this will be a real test for them. They’re W3-D1-L1 on the road this year, though four of those five games came against sides currently occupying bottom half positions. Atletico will be determined to get back to winning ways and are still unbeaten in 12 league outings at home, so they’ll look to jump back above Betis with victory here.
ATLETICO TO WIN
Barcelona v Alaves
A new era dawns at the Camp Nou after the sacking of Ronald Koeman, with former midfielder Xavi the hot favourite to take the reins. Until then though focus will be all on winning this clash with Alaves after just three wins in 10 matches across all competitions, including four defeats in their last six. That said though, they haven’t had the easiest run of games with none of those matches a guarantee of three points, and thy still have a strong record against the weaker sides in the league.
They’re unbeaten against sides below them in the league, winning three of their four such home games, while Alaves have struggled on the road, losing three of their four matches to nil, with their only victory coming against relegation zone Cadiz. Alaves won this fixture back in 2016, though the Catalans have won nine of the subsequent 10 meetings across all venues and competitions, scoring two or more in each victory. 3-1 and 3-0 wins over Valencia and Levante at home this season show Barca can still provide comfortable results, and the -1 handicap looks value as they look for a manager bounce.
BARCELONA -1 HANDICAP
Elche v Real Madrid
Victory over Barcelona was the perfect response from tired displays against Villarreal and Espanyol, though Real Madrid looked laboured once against in midweek when hosting Osasuna, meaning they’ve now won just one of their last four La Liga outings, and serious questions will be asked if they fail to take maximum points here.
Elche have managed just two wins all season and that’s why they currently occupy a bottom-six spot, with both victories coming by narrow 1-0 margins over fellow bottom half sides Celta Vigo and Getafe. Remarkably, though, they’re proving incredibly difficult to beat on home soil and are actually unbeaten from their five outings at Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero, drawing all three games with top half sides.
While it’s unlikely that they’ll extend their unbeaten home start against Los Blancos, there’s no reason to suggest they can’t keep it tight. Only away to Villarreal have they come unstuck, with that the only game in their 11 so far that they’ve lost by more than a single strike, so the handicap holds value.
ELCHE +1.5 HANDICAP