Mike Holden previews today's La Liga action and he expects Ronaldo and co. to run riot.
Las Palmas v Celta Vigo - Sunday 17:15, Sky Sports 1
Los Amarillos slipped into the drop zone with a 3-2 defeat at Levante last weekend, making it their longest stretch without a win since October. But they appear to be pretty adept at picking their battles and though they haven’t won two games back to back all season, six wins in the last 17 outings tells you that setbacks are rarely allowed to fester for too long.
And if Quique Setien’s men are going to survive this season, it’s going to be almost entirely down to their home form where they’ve so far collected 83 per cent of their points. Real Sociedad (twice), Real Betis, Granada and Eibar have all been turned over in a different time zone over the past three months and there’s ample evidence that Celta’s cup exploits are beginning to take their toll with four defeats in the last five league outings.
Ultimately, this all boils down to desire versus fatigue. The Galicians could be ten points adrift of fourth-placed Villarreal by the time this game kicks off, so a two-legged semi-final against Sevilla, starting on Wednesday, is bound to top their priority list, whereas Las Palmas know that a couple of decent results will soon get their heads back above water. My 16-match ratings make Las Palmas 11/10 favourites.
Real Madrid v Espanyol - Sunday 19:30, Sky Sports 1
Espanyol head to the Bernabeu on the back of two draws and six defeats since the winter break and they haven’t beaten Madrid in 18 attempts. It’s a wretched sequence that comprises 15 defeats, seven of them by three clear goals, the most recent of which was a 6-0 mauling at Cornella-El Prat back in September.
So there’s virtually nothing on which to try and base a case for the Pericos even frustrating the hosts. Lying 13th in the table without any sort of European aspirations, doing their Catalan rivals a favour in the title race is hardly going to top their agenda.
So let’s just keep things simple and throw one dart at Real Madrid keeping up the standards set in those previous home wins against Deportivo La Coruña and Sporting Gijon by scoring five goals. The 5-0 correct score is available at 12/1.