La Liga Match Previews, Odds & Tips: Jan 4th – 7th 2013

by Thomas

The La Liga action returns this weekend after a two week break and as we enter the second half of the season, there is plenty to play for.

It is going to be tough stopping Barcelona winning the title as they are nine points clear of second place, but the battle for a Champions League spot and the fight to stay in the league look to be extremely close.

So, let’s see which teams are locking horns on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Real Zaragoza v Real Betis – Friday 8.30PM – Pick: Real Betis @ 11/5

Benat-Jan-4The action all gets underway on Friday evening and Real Betis will be looking to build on their strong first half of the season with a win at Real Zaragoza.

Betis currently sit in fifth position and look like making a challenge for a spot in the top four, but know they have to hit the ground running in January.

Their momentum was halted last time out as well as they went down 2-1 at home to Mallorca, so a response is needed here.

As for Zaragoza, they sit comfortably in mid-table and this second half of the term is all about pushing on and building on a good start.

On their day, the home side can be a match for anyone in this league and if they put in a big performance, have the players capable of coming out on top here.

It should be a cracking 90 minutes to kick-start 2013 in La Liga.

Levante v Athletic Bilbao – Saturday 3PM – Pick: Draw @ 23/10

Levante are another side that have maybe shocked a few in the league this time out as they currently sit in sixth and are just three points adrift of a Champions League spot.

They take on a Bilbao team that had a shocking start to the season, but have moved away from the bottom three over the last month.

This is sure to be an encounter with plenty of goals as both teams love to play attacking football and have at times this campaign, been shaky at the back.

As they are on home soil, Levante will be expecting to take all three points, but they know the quality that their opponents possess, especially in the final third.

The club from the Basque country realise that a few wins could take them into the top half, so a strong start to the year is needed.

Granada v Valencia – Saturday 5PM – Pick: Granada @ 12/5

Floro-Flores-Jan-4Granada are sure to be in a relegation battle this year as they are just one point above the bottom three right now. They host Valencia this weekend needing a win, but it is going to be very tough.

The hosts can come into this one with some confidence though as they won at Osasuna last time out and in truth, the winter break may have came at the wrong time for them.

Valencia have been a long way short of their best in La Liga so far though as they are in ninth at the moment and know that a string of wins are needed to make a challenge for the top four.

They should be coming out on top in this one with the personal they have at their disposal, but it has been so tough to predict what Valencia side might turn up.

It should be a very interesting 90 minutes.

Deportivo La Coruna v Malaga – Saturday 7PM – Pick: Malaga @ 6/5

These two certainly have very different ambitions for the year as Malaga are in fourth and looking to book a place in Europe’s elite club competition next season, whereas Deportivo will be happy to be playing in the same league later on in 2013.

The points up for grabs in this one mean just as much too either side though and despite going up against strong opposition, Deportivo have to take something in this one as they are bottom of the table right now and have a lot of work to do.

Malaga have now won three matches in a row in La Liga, so come into this encounter full of confidence. They will have three points on their mind and nothing else, which could be a worry for Deportivo.

With plenty at stake, this could be a belated Christmas cracker between two teams that score plenty of goals.

Extra Tip – Malaga to win 2-1 @ 8/1

Sevilla v Osasuna – Saturday 9PM – Pick: Sevilla @ 8/13

Gary-Medel-Jan-4Sevilla have now gone five games without a win in the Spanish top flight, so will be hoping that the winter break came at the right time for them to have a think about where things have been going wrong.

They simply have to end their winless run this weekend as they take on Osasuna, who are in 19th place and short of a bit of quality.

The home team are just four points clear of the bottom three and although they have a side capable of challenging for the top four, know how demanding this league is and that they could be in a battle to stay in La Liga if results don’t improve.

Osasuna have to come into every encounter looking to win and despite the poor form of their opposition, face a very tough task here as Sevilla are going to be up for this one and desperate for a victory.

Extra Tip – Sevilla to win 2-0 @ 13/2

Celta Vigo v Real Valladolid – Sunday 11AM – Pick: Draw @ 23/10

Celta Vigo come into this one on the back of three straight defeats and hovering just above the relegation zone, so three points are what is needed.

It will not be easy for them though as they go up against a Real Valladolid side that have proven to be a very strong outfit this campaign.

They are in mid-table right now, but haven’t won in three, so also need a victory to kick-start the year and look to move up the table.

Another defeat for the hosts is likely to leave them in the bottom three, which is not where they will want to be starting 2013, so it is vital they take something this weekend.

It looks set to be another entertaining 90 minutes that gets Sunday’s action underway.

Real Madrid v Real Sociedad – Sunday 4PM – Pick: Real Madrid @ 2/11

Karim-Benzema-Jan-4The first half of the season was a shocking one for Real Madrid in La Liga as they lost four games and sit a massive 13 points behind Barcelona.

They can all but give up on winning the title this season, but must start winning games to try and finish in second and at least put a bit of pressure on their rivals at the top of the table.

This encounter is one that Jose Mourinho will be expecting a comfortable victory in. However, this season, they have made life difficult for themselves on numerous occasions.

Usually, Real Sociedad would fear coming to the Bernabeu as Real have been so strong on their own turf in recent years.

But, recent performances suggest they are beatable at home and Sociedad should come here quietly confident.

If Real Madrid are at their best though, they should win this at a canter.

Extra Tip – Real Madrid to win 4-2 @ 25/1

Barcelona v Espanyol – Sunday 6PM – Pick: Barcelona @ 1/11

Barcelona will be looking to continue their good form after the break and maintain their healthy lead at the top of the table.

Anything other than a win for the Catalan club would go down as one of the shocks of this La Liga season as they take on an Espanyol team that currently sit in the bottom three.

Barca should have more than enough quality to claim all three points here, especially as they are at the Nou Camp.

If Lionel Messi is on form, then it could be a very good evening for the league-leaders.

Espanyol know that nothing is expected of them, so they should come into this one with the pressure off.

One thing they might have concerns about if their goal difference, so they must remain solid at the back and maybe look to steal a goal on the break – which is of course a very tough ask.

Extra Tip – Lionel Messi to score a hat-trick @ 7/2

Mallorca v Atletico Madrid – Sunday 8PM – Pick: Atletico Madrid @ 11/10

Adrian-Jan-4Mallorca finally ended their wait for a win last time out as they travelled to Real Betis and took the spoils.

It was enough to move them away from the bottom three, but they now have to move on and look to try and put in a similar performance this time out against Atletico Madrid, who are in second at the moment.

It will be a tough ask, but Mallorca might now have the confidence to go on a decent run.

As for Atletico, it is all about winning games and hoping that Barcelona slip-up for them now. If the leaders do lose a game, then the club from the capital have to take full advantage.

If they play their superb attacking football, then Atletico Madrid might have too much quality for Mallorca in this one.

It is all set for another scintillating 90 minutes of La Liga action.

Rayo Vallecano v Getafe – Monday 7PM – Pick: Draw @ 9/4

The final game in this round of fixtures is on Monday evening and Rayo Vallecano will be looking to stay in the top eight with a win over Getafe.

The home side have surprised a few with their performances this season, but they look capable of making a challenge for a European spot, especially if they start 2013 well.

Getafe are sure to be happy with their campaign so far as well though as they sit comfortably in tenth and don’t look like being in any trouble this term.

It makes for a cracking 90 minutes as both teams have a bit of confidence right now, but after two straight wins, many will be fancying Vallecano to claim the spoils once more.

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Thomas is a sports journalist residing in Norwich, UK and focusses on all things football here at tipsandpicks.com