Previewing La Liga Matchday 14: Can João Félix’s Likely Return Spark Atleti?

Posted By Tyler Everett on November 25, 2019
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La Liga returns from the international break with Levante hosting Mallorca on Friday at 3 p.m. Eastern. But the match-ups most worth watching both take place Saturday.

Promoted side Granada (+400) has been mired in a nosedive since its shockingly strong play through its first 10 games. Granada, however, remains just four points out of fourth place. They can bounce back in a big way on Saturday when Atletico Madrid (-112) visits Los Cármenes at 12:30 p.m.

Shortly after that game wraps up, Real Madrid welcomes Real Sociedad to the Santiago Bernabéu for a 3 p.m. kickoff. Oddsmakers expect Los Blancos (-278) to cruise over fifth-place Real Sociedad (+600). The Basque side is led by RM loanee Martin Odegaard, the 20-year-old who has easily been the story of the league to this point, at least in the “non-Barca/Atleti/RM” division.

Speaking, briefly, of Barcelona, the Catalans are -240 for their trip to Leganés (+600) on Saturday at 7 a.m. We’ll talk more about Barca next week, when they host Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday, but expect a rout of last-place Leganés in the meantime.

João Félix to the rescue?

Atleti has let us at High Press Soccer down since convincing tricking us into believing they had become a high-powered offensive threat over the summer. With just 15 goals through 13 games – 17th-place Real Betis has just as many – we can’t say that they were ever exactly humming along. But there were at least flashes in the early months of the season, largely courtesy of João Félix.

The Portuguese starlet has done as much to live up to the hype as any high-profile transfer from this summer, but he’s been sidelined since suffering an ankle injury vs. Valencia on October 19. On the year, Félix has just two goals and an assist domestically, but has given us glimpses of the nightmare we expect him to be for La Liga opponents for years to come.

The question is whether an in-form Félix is the missing piece for a team that has been far too dependent on Álvaro Morata in recent weeks. Diego Costa’s latest injury – he’s expected to be out until February with a herniated disc — adds pressure on Félix, but the good news is that Morata is in a hell of a groove. The 27-year-old Spaniard scored in six consecutive games from October 22 through Nov. 10, when Atleti beat Espanyol 3-1 in its last game before the international break. If Félix and Morata are on point, those two, plus Atleti’s always-stout defense, should keep this team on the heels of Barcelona and RM.

As for Granada, what a difference a few weeks makes, and not in a good way. Losing three in a row is tough regardless of the opponents. Such a stretch hurts even more against the likes of 7th-place Getafe, 5th-place Real Sociedad and 9th-place Valencia … on second thought, those are actually all solid foes, if not respected brands globally. That doesn’t, however, make capturing 0 of 9 possible points any easier to stomach for a squad that was atop the table in late October.

The bottom line on Atleti-Granada is that it’s hard to see Granada scoring enough at all – they’ve netted multiple times just twice in their last nine La Liga games – to get a result on Saturday.

Can Odegaard lead Real Sociedad to the upset?

In a word, doubtful. I’d like the underdog’s chances much better if Real Sociedad were at home. Real Madrid is not exactly on a lengthy tear – Zinedine Zidane’s squad inexplicably drew Real Betis 0-0 on November 2 – but did dominate its last two opponents. RM beat UCL foe Galatasaray 6-0 on November 6 before blowing out Eibar 4-0 on November 9. Don’t expect such a comfortable victory this weekend, but a RM team that dealt with a long list of injuries should be fresh after the international break. And Gareth Bale returns to his happy place!*

Real Sociedad’s most impressive accomplishment this season was their 2-0 win over Atleti on Sept. 14. Another solid showing vs. one of Spain’s big three would be a sign that this team is a legit top-4 contender and a smart futures bet (currently at +400) to finish with one of La Liga’s UCL spots for ’20-21.**

* More on the latest spat between the Welshman and his club to come next week on HPS.

** Friendly piece of advice: If you like those odds and think an upset is likely this weekend, move on it ASAP, as they would surely shorten with a win over RM.

Where to Bet La Liga in US

In the US, you can legally bet on soccer online in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

For New Jersey, we recommend DraftKings Sportsbook NJ or FanDuel Sportsbook

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