There’s nothing quite like El Clásico, even if the last couple editions have been somewhat disappointing, so there’s inevitably a drop-off in the post-Clásico weekend in La Liga. Despite that, this is not a bad slate at all.
Let’s start with Real Sociedad’s (+650) trip to Barcelona (-275) on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Eastern.
The other game worth a look is Atleti-Sevilla at Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday at 10 a.m. Los Rojiblancos (-113) are in fifth place on 44 points, but could overtake third-place Sevilla (+360) with a win.
ctabu id=1528 type=geo]
REAL SOCIEDAD GETS ANOTHER SHOT AT (ONE OF) SPAIN’S BEST
Real Sociedad has won four of five in La Liga, including three in a row. The streak featured wins over Valladolid, Valencia and Athletic Bilbao, but this team is in impressive form. Vegas, however, isn’t convinced. We’ll get into the reasons why, but if you’re pressed for time, just realize that +650 is great value here, despite how tough the Catalans are at Camp Nou.
And we haven’t even mentioned what Real Sociedad have done in the Copa del Rey. After knocking off Osasuna 3-1 in the round of 16 of Spain’s domestic tournament, they dominated Real Madrid, winning 4-3 – it was a head-turning performance, even if it was nowhere near RM’s best XI – before handling second-tier Mirandés 3-1 on aggregate in the semis. This isn’t the time or place to look ahead to the Copa del Rey final between Real Sociedad and Basque nemesis Athletic Bilbao on April 18, but we couldn’t ignore this team’s run to the Copa final.
As for La Liga, Real Sociedad is in 6th place (46) and just three behind Sevilla (43). But they’re in an even better spot than the standings indicate thanks to their game in hand. They’re also tied with fourth-place Getafe (45) with the best goal differential (plus-12) of anyone outside runaway title contenders Real Madrid (56) and Barcelona (55).
The question is whether they can finally break through — in La Liga, not forgetting the Copa win over RM — vs. the team that has owned this league in recent years. In their first matchup with Barcelona, back on December 14, they managed a 2-2 draw on goals from Mikel Oyarzabal and Alexander Isak.
LA LIGA’S MOST BALANCED ATTACK?
Martin Odegaard is this team’s headliner, but Oyarzabal and Isak are players worth getting to know. At High Press Soccer, there are few topics we like discussing more than the “next big thing,” especially when it’s young players scoring goals in a good league.
Oyarzabal is a player you’ll hear a lot about in the weeks to come, and for good reason. Impressively, he’s his team’s captain at just 22 years old. He’s also piled up seven goals and six assists in 24 La Liga appearances. Between him, Isak – a 20-year-old with seven goals of his own – and Odegaard, the highly-touted 21-year-old RM loanee who has four goals and five assists in La Liga, nobody in Spain boasts a more exciting trio of young talent.
But the scoring balance for Real Sociedad goes beyond just those three. Willian José (8 goals) and Portu (7) have also enjoyed big seasons. For perspective, remember that RM has exactly one player with at least seven goals, and even Barcelona only boasts three who have already hit the seven-goal mark.
And readers the editor of this site – looking at you, Chops – thought I was all about some Getafe!
SERIOUSLY, THOUGH, +650!
Does the “Real Sociedad at +650 is great value” line from up top make sense now?
If not, consider that Barcelona will be down both Sergi Roberto and midfielder Arthur. That means a likely start for 20-year-old Riqui Puig, a promising but unproven player who has spent most of his career playing for Barcelona’s B team.
At the very least, check out the draw at +425. Barcelona knocked off Getafe 2-1 on February 15, but their impressive performances against quality opponents have been rare over the last few months.
SHOULD WE TRUST ATLETI AT HOME??
They obviously are still capable of some great efforts occasionally, but they’ve been the opposite of reliable all year. Sevilla is in good form and at +360, they’re absolutely — stop me if you’ve heard this before — worth a flier this weekend.
WHERE TO BET LA LIGA IN THE US
In the US, you can legally bet on soccer in New Jersey, Indiana and Pennsylvania.