La Liga Matchday 27 Preview: Can First-Place Atleti Protect Its Six-Point Cushion?

Posted By Tyler Everett on March 13, 2021

We have another derby this weekend (Sevilla-Real Betis) that promises to be compelling, but La Liga’s other top clubs are expected to win comfortably – though Getafe might have something to say about that.

  • Real Madrid (-500) vs. Elche (+1,300) Saturday, 10:15 a.m. Eastern
  • Getafe (+390) vs. Atlético Madrid (-112) Saturday, 3 p.m.
  • Sevilla (+104) vs. Real Betis (+275) Sunday, 4 p.m.
  • Barcelona (-480) vs. Huesca (+1,200) Monday, 4 p.m.

Champions League implications in Sevilla-Real Betis

After losses in their last two La Liga matches (vs. Barcelona and Elche), fourth-place Sevilla (48 points) has just a three-point lead on fifth-place Real Sociedad (45). And sixth-place Real Betis (42) isn’t far behind, either. That makes this weekend’s Seville derby a must-see for those of us who believe there are big games in La Liga that don’t involve Real Madrid, Barcelona or Atleti.

Sevilla, which had been so solid all year, has had a brutal stretch. In the last two weeks, they’ve been eliminated from both the Copa del Rey and the Champions League in recent weeks, in addition to losses in their last two in La Liga. Oddsmakers, however, don’t seem concerned, as Julen Lopetegui’s team is still -335 to finish top-4, while Real Sociedad is +200 and Real Betis is +2,000.

With nothing to worry about except a top-four finish, Sevilla should get back on track soon, but they’re in a tough spot this weekend. Real Betis at +275 seems advisable, as does the draw at +235.

Are things looking up for Barcelona?

Though it failed to overturn the deficit it faced against PSG in the Champions League, Barcelona had a hell of a week — in a good way.

It starts with new president Joan Laporta, who won the club’s election last weekend. Though he’s admittedly still in the honeymoon phase before he digs into the impossible tasks ahead*, there’s well-founded optimism – based on his successful previous tenure from ’03-10 – that he’s a massive upgrade over Josep Maria Bartoemeu, at the very least.

The future of Barcelona under Laporta would require its own piece. But his election, along with the draw between Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid last weekend, as well as Barcelona’s form for two-plus months now, mean there’s a chance the Catalans enjoy a finish to the ’20-21 season that no one saw coming as recently as December. For one thing, they’ll be favored in the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Club on April 17.

I haven’t said anything about this weekend vs. Huesca because, no, I don’t believe the +1,200 underdogs have a legit shot on the road.

*To name a few, he must get everyone pulling in the same direction at an organization plagued by internal tension in recent years. And there’s also the matter of the club’s mountain of debt, as well as Lionel Messi’s uncertain future.

Hay Liga??

Barcelona are currently just six points behind Atleti (62 points), with all three title contenders (if you believe Real Madrid — +700 to win the league — is still in the race) having played 26 matches. The Catalans still have a game left against Atleti (go ahead and circle their Matchday 35 meeting on May 9 on your calendar).

They also have to like their chances of making this thing interesting given Atleti has captured just 8 of 15 possible points over its last five. While I don’t see Diego Simeone’s team nosediving, it seems very possible that Barcelona will trail Atleti by three points or less by the team they meet in May. For the record, the Catalans are currently +225 to win La Liga. Atleti remains the clear, but not overwhelming, favorite at -200.

What could possibly go wrong for Atleti vs. Getafe?

Getafe is no longer anywhere near the top of the table, but they’re still a pain for their opponents. In fact, they’re probably among the last teams Atleti fans want to see a few days before next week’s Champions League match against Chelsea. The 15th-place team in La Liga took out Sevilla’s Lucas Ocampos with an ugly tackle in somehow contentious 3-0 loss (Getafe earned four yellow cards) on February 6. Expect another absolute slog, which probably will not bother Simeone, as long as everyone emerges unscathed.

Atleti needs three points too badly to suffer a letdown, making them a good bet at -112. Another recommendation here is the under 1.5 total goals at +128.

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