After a three-month hiatus due to the coronavirus-enforced break, La Liga is set to return in all its glory from Thursday.
Spain was one of the worst-hit countries of the deadly pandemic, and hence the league officials had moved swiftly in March to suspend the competition, similar to other major European leagues.
Now that the situation is slowly and steadily improving, and with the Bundesliga paving the way for other leagues to follow suit, La Liga’s gameweek 28 will start on Thursday, with the Seville derby slated to kick things off on an enticing note.
The race for Champions League places is set to go down right to the wire, and the same can be said for the relegation battle too, given only nine points separate the bottom five sides.
With so much of action to look forward to, here are the fixtures and predictions from gameweek 30 of La Liga.
Sevilla vs Real Betis (Prediction: 3-2)
Hosts Sevilla will welcome crosstown rivals Real Betis to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan for the 97th El Gran Derbi between these two clubs. Betis won 2-1 the last time these two sides met in the league earlier in the season.
Julen Lopetegui’s men are third on the table, while their derby rivals currently occupy 12th place in the standings. Sevilla have Getafe and Real Sociedad breathing down their neck and cannot avoid any slip-ups on Friday night.
On the other hand, Betis have had a season to forget. They are languishing eight points above the relegation places, and need to get their act together to end the season on a high note, starting from Thursday night itself.
Granada vs Getafe (Prediction: 2-2)
Just one point below Sevilla in fifth place, Getafe will visit Los Carmenes on Friday, looking to take away all three points to keep their European dreams alive.
The away side won’t have it easy though, as Granada sit pretty at ninth in the standings, undefeated in their past four matches prior to the break.
Expect a feisty affair between these two sides, who on their day, are well renowned to be giant killers.
Leganes vs Real Valladolid (Prediction: 1-1)
19th-placed Leganes will host 15th-placed Real Valladolid at the Butarque on Saturday in a game where both teams have equal chances of winning all three points.
The hosts began this season in the worst possible way, failing to win any of their first nine games. After a change in the dugout, Leganes were starting to look better before the break but is it too late now? We’ll know in the next few weeks.
Valladolid have had similar fortunes, having won just two games in their past 15 matches. The Ronaldo Nazario-owned club could slip into relegation places if they fail to win this one.
Valencia vs Levante (Prediction: 1-1)
Since the sacking of Marcelinho in September last year, Valencia have struggled to find any sort of consistency. They are seventh on the table and Europa League qualification seems to be their lone hope of salvation. However, Los Che have their work cut out.
Elsewhere, Levante are 13th in the standings, but they’ll have to pull their socks up as a late collapse from hereon could spell doom for Paco Lopez’s men.
Celta Vigo vs Villarreal (Prediction: 0-2)
Celta survived relegation last year through an incredible late resurgence, and this season they will need more of the same. Having won just five games all season, the team are 17th on the La Liga table.
Scoring goals has been Celta’s Achilles’ heel so far, as they remain heavily reliant on an ageing Iago Aspas.
Their opponents on Saturday have a completely different story altogether. Villarreal’s shaky defence line has been anonymous so far this season, and qualifying for Europe seems too far to be realistic. Ending the season on a positive note should be their motive from here onwards.
Espanyol vs Alaves (Prediction: 1-1)
Rooted to the foot of the table after 27 rounds of matches, Espanyol’s hopes of staying up in La Liga are far and few between.
They will play hosts to Alaves, who are in dire need of points themselves, on Saturday evening. Asier Garitano’s side are in 14th place at the moment, seven points above the relegation spots.
In order to stay up, they need a couple more wins, and Espanyol are the perfect opponents to kick-start a winning momentum, given the hosts’ struggles of late.
Mallorca vs Barcelona (Prediction: 1-3)
Believe it or not, Barcelona have won just five out of their 13 matches on the road this season, just one example of their recent decline.
Thankfully, Lionel Messi is performing at his brilliant best, with the Argentine currently being the top goalscorer in La Liga with 19 strikes to his name.
In order to win a third successive league title, the Blaugrana will have to fare better in the remaining 11 matches, starting with a tricky away trip to Mallorca, who are 18th on the table and embroiled in a battle to avoid relegation.
This should be an exciting game come Sunday afternoon.
Athletic Bilbao vs Atletico Madrid (Prediction: 1-2)
It has been a season of transitions of sorts for Atletico Madrid, who will travel to the San Mames on Sunday, hoping to rise from their sixth spot in the league standings.
The Basque side, on the other hand, are 10th and have little more than pride to salvage this season, despite having started the 2019-20 La Liga campaign on a brilliant note.
Strikers of both these sides have endured torrid times of late, so don’t expect this match to be a goal-fest.
Real Madrid vs Eibar (Prediction: 2-1)
Speaking of struggling strikers, Karim Benzema’s goals have dried up lately, with the Frenchman finding the back of the net just twice since the turn of the year.
Los Blancos will hope that Eden Hazard will be fit and firing for the remaining 11 matches if they are to end Barca’s domestic recent dominance in the league.
For Eibar, things aren’t looking too good. They are 17th in the standings, and in their past 15 league matches, the Azulgranas have lost nine games, having picked up the fewest points (12) amongst all La Liga teams. Something has got to change for the visitors before it’s too late.
Real Sociedad vs Osasuna (Prediction: 2-0)
Arguably the surprise package of La Liga this season, Real Sociedad will look to continue their pre-break form with a routine win over Osasuna.
The home side have been playing slick, fast-paced and attacking football, and look well poised to play in Europe next term.
On the other hand, Osasuna have had mixed fortunes so far this season, and as a consequence, they are 11th in the standings. As with other mid-table clubs, they don’t have too much at stake apart from ending the season on a positive note.
All stats courtesy: La Liga.com