La Liga Matchday 20 Preview: Red-Hot Villarreal Hosts Atlético Madrid

Written By Tyler Everett on January 7, 2022

You could be forgiven for seeing that Real Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla are all heavily favored this weekend and assuming there’s nothing in La Liga worth your attention this weekend. But you’d be overlooking a fascinating match-up between Villarreal and Atletico Madrid. That game alone makes Matchday 20 compelling, as far as I’m concerned.

There’s plenty more good news – and intrigue – in La Liga as the second half of the season gets underway. First of all, COVID will be less of a league-wide factor than it was las weekend. While that’s not saying a ton, we should embrace even a small step in the right direction.

More importantly, a league that appeared to have about as much of a title race as Ligue 1 as recently as mid-December suddenly looks competitive. Thanks to a draw vs. Cádiz on December 19 and last weekend’s surprising loss to Getafe, Real Madrid is only five points clear of Sevilla atop the table. And Sevilla has a game in hand. So despite what oddsmakers tell you – Real Madrid is -700 to win La Liga, while Sevilla is +550 – Los Blancos may not cruise to the title after all.

La Liga Matchday 20 Preview

Like we said up top, Villarreal-Atleti headlines the Matchday 20 slate, but Real Madrid’s response after being shut out in two of their last three matches also deserves your attention. If nothing else, expect few goals as Los Blancos host Valencia, and look for a similar type of game between Sevilla and Getafe.

As far as I’m concerned, though, there’s not a better match-up this weekend in not only Spain, but all of Europe, than Villarreal-Atleti. The showdown between Gerard Moreno-led Villarreal — the Spaniard has seven goals (!!) and two assists in his last four La Liga games — and Diego Simeone’s club is a must-watch. With four consecutive La Liga wins since December 12, by a combined score of 15-3, Villarreal is easily the hottest club in Spain. Atleti has won its last two by a combined score of 7-0, but one of those was Thursday’s 5-0 Copa del Rey win over a side called Rayo Majadahonda.

  • Granada (+370) vs. Barcelona (-130) Saturday, 12:30 p.m. Eastern
  • Real Madrid (-275) vs. Valencia (+750) Saturday, 3 p.m.
  • Sevilla (-175) vs. Getafe (+550) Sunday, 10:15 a.m.
  • Villarreal (+180) vs. Atletico Madrid (+165) Sunday, 3 p.m.

La Liga Matchday 20 Odds & Ends

Granada-Barcelona

Barcelona (-130) has played well enough lately, despite missing a slew of key players against Mallorca last weekend, that I think they’re good value here. The Catalans might have their hands full, though, based on Granada’s 2-1 win over Atleti on December 22.

Sevilla-Getafe

As the line tells you, Sevilla shouldn’t have too much trouble with 16th-place Getafe. If nothing else, expect Julen Lopetegui’s team to show up prepared after Getafe’s upset of Real Madrid last weekend. Given that I expect a low-scoring win by Sevilla, consider Sevilla Win/Under 2.5 Goals Parlay (+165).

Villarreal-Atleti

I can’t ignore what I’ve seen from Villarreal since Moreno returned from injury in December. While they lost to Sporting Gijón in the Copa on Thursday, the same day Atleti romped in that competition, Villarreal at +180 is outstanding value. That’s just one of several bets that stand out to me in this one.

In a game between two defenses that have been up-and-down most of the season, Both Teams To Score – Yes (-125), as well as the riskier (but still advisable, IMO) Both Teams To Score – Yes/No Draw (+185) offer solid value. And if you’re as sold on Villarreal based on their recent form as I am, parlay Villarreal Money Line/Over 1.5 Goals (+280).

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