La Liga Picks: Game Week 1
The 2019/20 La Liga season is finally here and there is plenty to look forward. Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid all have their sights set on the title, but the interest doesn’t stop there, with Valencia and Sevilla both going through changes over the summer. Here are four tips for the opening weekend of the Spanish top flight season.
San Mames, Friday 16 August
The appointment of Gaizka Garitano towards the end of last season changed the tone around Athletic Bilbao. The Basque club went on a run that saw them go 14 La Liga home games unbeaten and so they will be hoping to carry that momentum into the 2019/20 campaign. San Mames is once again a difficult place for opposition sides to visit.
This is Barcelona, though. There is no stadium in Spain they are not capable of winning at. Lionel Messi will miss the first few weeks of the new season with a calf injury, but that shouldn’t present much of an issue. Antoine Griezmann’s signing has given Barca a way to play without Messi. What’s more, the Catalans are undefeated in 25 of their last 26 league matches.
1u - Back Barcelona To Score 2+ Goals @ -142
Balaidos, Saturday 17 August
Nobody is quite sure what to expect from Real Madrid this season. There has been an overhaul of the squad at the Santiago Bernabeu this summer, with around £300 million spent on Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy and Rodrygo, but pre-season was less than convincing and there is already a sense that things are getting away from Zinedine Zidane.
Celta Vigo are unbeaten in their last five matches at Balaidos while Real Madrid have failed to win any of their last five league games on the road. Celta have also scored two or more goals in their last five home matches. They have a habit of turning it on when the big teams come to visit Balaidos. They could do some real damage to Real Madrid on opening weekend.
0.5u - Back Celta Vigo To Win @ +430
Mestalla, Saturday 17 August
After a difficult start to the 2018/19 season, Valencia rallied well to finish in the top four. Since then, however, they have lost (or are about to lose) Rodrigo to Atletico Madrid and it may take them some time to adapt to life without the Spanish international leading the line. Marcelino will at least have summer signing Maxi Gomez to mitigate the blow.
Valencia have been winning at both half time and full time of five of their last seven La Liga games and have scored two or more goals in six of those matches. However, the hosts will be without Dani Parejo and Jose Gaya through suspension this weekend. Diego Llorente and Aritz Elustondo are also suspended for Real Sociedad.
0.75u - Back Valencia To Win To Nil @ +164
Metropolitano, Sunday 18 August
Diego Simeone has done all he can to change Atletico Madrid’s identity as a team over the summer. Having had so much success being a well-drilled, conservative outfit, the capital club now want to become a modern, expressive side. That has been reflected in the transfer business conducted over the summer window.
This will be the first real test of what Simeone has built. Getafe enjoyed an excellent 2018/19 season and have strengthened in a couple of key areas over the summer. There have been under 2.5 goals in six of Atleti’s last seven home games, but on the flip side they are undefeated over that period of time.
1.5u - Back Over 2.5 Goals @ +114