A look ahead to this weekend’s La Liga action
Week five of the new La Liga season is on the horizon, and on the evidence of these first few fixtures, it seems as if the usual duopoly between Barcelona and Real Madrid is one that could end up being disrupted.
Both the Spanish giants have dropped points early on, though the same could be said about the other 18 teams in the division, and as we go into the fifth week of the campaign, no-one can lay claim to a perfect 100% record.
There’s arguably a surprise name at the top of the standings, with Sevilla a point clear of Atlético Madrid, and the question is whether that will still be the case by the end of the game week. With that said, here is a look ahead to the latest round of La Liga action.
Barcelona banking on away win
Barcelona’s start to the season has been rather indifferent, and although the Catalans have a glut of attacking talent at their disposal, they have been without one player up until now and a player that undoubtedly makes a huge difference.
That man is none other than Lionel Messi, and after missing the first month of the season due to a calf injury, the mercurial Argentine forward is now ready to be called upon by manager Ernesto Valverde.
This Saturday sees the defending La Liga champions travel to Granada, and after dropping points in their first two away matches of the season, the hope and expectation will be that they can pick up a first away league win.
Granada have had a relatively impressive start to the campaign and go into this weekend’s meeting just a position behind Barcelona in the table – something that further highlights the visitors’ underwhelming start.
The hosts have already disposed of Catalan opposition already, and a comfortable 3-0 win away at Espanyol indicates that they are no pushovers. However, the welcoming of Barcelona does present a different task altogether and especially with Messi poised and ready to go.
Therefore, it would be rather difficult to look past a Barcelona win, and if you think that this will be the case, then you can back the Blaugrana to win with Sportsbet at odds of 1.33. If you think that Messi will open the scoring, then the odds are an inviting 3.50.
Atlético look to return to the summit
Going into week four of the season, it was Atlético Madrid who found themselves at the top of the summit, and come the end of it, they found themselves off the perch and residing in second place instead.
That movement at the top of the table came courtesy of an away defeat to Real Sociedad, and although the Anoeta Stadium is never an easy place to go to, defeat for Diego Simeone’s men did come as something of a surprise.
However, the red and white half of Madrid will look to put that disappointment behind them this Saturday evening when they play host to Celta Vigo, and with the Galicians only having won once this season, all of the signs point to a home win.
It seems as if Atlético have adapted to life without Antoine Griezmann with relative ease, and with teenage starlet João Félix wowing the crowds, it is fair to say that there is a new hero at the Wanda Metropolitano.
There is a lot of confidence in terms of Atlético picking up all three points, and if you believe this to be the case, then you can back them to do so with Sportsbet at odds of 1.42 – something that looks like perfect accumulator fodder.
Pressure already mounting on Zidane
After suffering a Champions League defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in midweek, the pressure is already beginning to mount on Real Madrid and, more importantly, the shoulders of manager Zinedine Zidane.
Like their arch-rivals Barcelona, Los Blancos have not had the best of starts to domestic proceedings either, and although they do start the weekend lying third, questions have been asked in regard to dropping points to both Real Valladolid and Villarreal.
In Karim Benzema, they have the league’s second top scorer at the time of writing, and although attacking prowess does not seem to be an issue for Real Madrid, it is once again defensive deficiencies that have been their early undoing.
They will look to not only win this weekend but also, more importantly, keep a confidence-boosting clean sheet, and although that will be the desire within the Real camp, it could end up being quite a difficult task.
That’s because the 2018 Champions League winners make the trip south to face current table-toppers Sevilla, who themselves have picked up ten points from the first 12 that have been on offer.
It is fair to say that the visit of Zinedine Zidane’s star-studded squad will be the first genuine test that the Andalusians have had to deal with so far, and their performances to this point have shown just how effective a solid defence can be.
Sevilla have conceded just one goal in their first four La Liga matches of the season, and it was the 1-1 draw with Celta Vigo that stops them from going into this game with a perfect record of four wins from four.
A win against a Real Madrid side that certainly seemed out of sorts in midweek would be a real statement of intent for Julen Lopetegui’s players, and the Sevilla boss would love to get one over his former employers.
Lopetegui was named as Real Madrid manager in what can only be considered rather controversial circumstances, and it is fair to say that his relatively short tenure at the Santiago Bernabéu was one to be forgotten.
If he can mastermind a win over Real Madrid, then it will be a very sweet victory indeed. Should that be the case, Sportsbet will pay out odds of 2.65, and if it goes the other way, then an away win will provide odds of 2.55. Just which way will it end up going?
Are you ready for another weekend of La Liga action? Visit Sportsbet, your home of big-match betting.
Words: Josh Dixon