If this season has taught us anything, it’s that this weekend’s seemingly chalky slate will likely prove more compelling than it looks.
- Elche (+800) vs. Atlético Madrid (-265) Saturday, 10:15 a.m. Eastern
- Real Madrid (-275) vs. Osasuna (+750) Saturday, 3 p.m.
- Valencia (+600) vs. Barcelona (-265) Sunday, 3 p.m.
- Sevilla (-177) vs. Athletic Club (+510) Monday, 3 p.m.
I say that because with five games remaining for each team, first-place Atleti (73 points), second-place Real Madrid (71), third-place Barcelona (71) and fourth-place Sevilla (70) all have legit title hopes. Yes, I think even Sevilla remains in the mix, though oddsmakers disagree.
The futures prices would have you believe it will be either Barcelona or Atleti raising the trophy, but based on recent weeks, I’m not convinced.
At the moment, Barcelona is a slight favorite (+140) ahead of Atleti (+160), Real Madrid (+325) and Sevilla (+1,400).
Barcelona just let Atleti off the hook?
Barcelona’s game in hand on Thursday epitomized the ’20-21 La Liga season.
Facing a heavy underdog in Granada, the Catalans had an incredible opportunity to move into first place with a win (which would have given them 74 points to 73 for Atleti and 71 for RM). They even went up 1-0 thanks to an early goal from Lionel Messi and held that lead for 60 minutes. All they had to do was hold on against a club that entered Thursday’s match with 41 goals in 32 games this season.
Instead, as you’ve probably heard, they gave up goals to Darwin Machis and Jorge Molina, losing 2-1 as Granada bagged the winner in the 79th.
Another note on Granada: they’ve allowed a league-high 54 goals this year. With that in mind, Barcelona failing to score more than once is as baffling as the late defensive mistakes.
Ultimately, this title race remains likely to hinge on Atleti-Barcelona next weekend, but it’s hard to overstate what a massive meltdown Barcelona suffered. Four days later, that Atleti loss to Athletic Club, which at the time looked like such a disaster for Atlético and such a blessing for Barca, doesn’t seem so bad after all.
I’ll get to this weekend’s slate soon, but regardless of who prevails next weekend, I expect this race to remain undecided through the final minutes of Matchday 38.
Sevilla might have a shot, after all
I’ve ruled them out a few times recently, but Sevilla just keeps winning, while their far richer rivals repeatedly stumble. Julen Lopetegui’s team has won its last five, and is unbeaten in La Liga since March 6. In fact, Sevilla’s excellent form dates back eight games now, as they’ve earned 22 of 24 possible points over their last eight matches.
Atleti (who have captured just 7 of 15 possible points over their last five), Real Madrid (11 of 15) and Barcelona (9 of 15) are not just leaving the door open, they’re begging Sevilla (currently +1,400 to win La Liga) to leave them all with egg on their breakaway-obsessed faces.
Sevilla’s remaining slate after they host Athletic Club this weekend includes Real Madrid on May 9, Valencia on May 12, Villarreal on May 16 and Alavés on May 23.
La Liga Matchday 34 Betting Advice
Knowing Real Madrid, they’ll probably play a bunch of B teamers and win anyway this weekend. But their match against Osasuna feels like less of a lock than the line would indicate. If nothing else, the timing alone makes it a dangerous spot, as this game comes between legs 1 and 2 of the Champions League semifinal vs. Chelsea. A small wager on Osasuna at +750 or the draw at +390 seems entirely defensible, if not advisable.
Atleti should bounce back from last week’s loss and enter the big Barcelona match next weekend with some momentum. With Elche’s offense struggling in recent matches — they’ve scored five goals in their last six – a shutout by Atleti is a strong possibility. That makes the Under 2.5 Total Goals (-124) — or even Under 1.5 Total Goals (+255) — enticing.