La Liga returns to action this weekend as Barcelona’s pursuit of a coveted top-four finish continues away to Granada, while Real Madrid seek redemption following a false start to 2022.
Let’s take a look at the four La Liga matches scheduled for Saturday.
Levante vs Mallorca
Time is ticking for a lowly Levante, who head into proceedings as the only La Liga side yet to taste victory in Spain’s top-flight this season (D8, L11).
The new calendar year has failed to offer the Frogs a clean slate, as they succumbed to an embarrassing 5-0 defeat at Villarreal to get off to a dismal start to 2022.
Sat eight points adrift of safety, Levante will see Mallorca’s visit to the Estadi Ciutat de València as a prime opportunity to record their first league win of the season.
Alessio Lisci’s men have won their last three league H2Hs on home turf.
Things are not looking bright for Mallorca either, following a run of back-to-back La Liga defeats as they now languish only four points clear of 18th-placed Deportivo Alaves.
Prediction: Levante 2-0 Mallorca
Real Sociedad vs Celta Vigo
Despite squeezing past Segunda Division outfit Leganes in midweek Copa del Rey action, Real Sociedad have been a shadow of their former selves in recent top-flight engagements.
After going unbeaten in 13 La Liga matches on the trot, Imanol Alguacil’s men have lost four of their last five league outings (D1), sliding to seventh in the process.
But fourth-placed Atletico Madrid are still within touching distance, sitting just two points above.
However, Celta Vigo’s visit to the Reale Arena could spell disaster for Sociedad’s hopes of getting their topsy-turvy La Liga campaign back on track.
Eduardo Coudet’s side take this trip after winning their last two league games in a row, including a 2-0 win at third-placed Real Betis last time out, climbing to 12th in the standings.
This encounter could go either way, with none of their last six La Liga H2Hs here ending level. Both sides have returned three wins apiece in that sequence.
Prediction: Real Sociedad 1-1 Celta Vigo
Granada vs Barcelona
With a host of first-team stars still ruled out with Covid-19 and injuries, Barcelona’s back-to-back competitive wins to start the new calendar year look impressive.
Following a narrow 1-0 triumph at Mallorca in their opening La Liga game of 2022, Xavi Hernandez’s team came from behind to beat Linares in Copa del Rey action in midweek.
Now enjoying a four-match undefeated run in the Premier League (W2, D2), Barca will be looking to maintain the pressure on fourth-placed Atletico, whom they trail by a single point.
However, it is worth noting that the struggling Catalan heavyweights have failed to beat Granada in both previous La Liga meetings (D1, L1), including an uneventful 1-1 draw at Camp Nou earlier in the season.
Still waiting for La Liga’s permission to register new signing Ferran Torres, Barcelona will have to rely on up-and-coming youngsters Ferran Jutgla and Nico Gonzalez to deliver the goods up front.
Prediction: Granada 1-1 Barcelona
Real Madrid vs Valencia
Real Madrid’s mouth-watering clash against Valencia at the Santiago Bernabeu will round off Saturday’s action.
Los Blancos headed into the new calendar year in high spirits, having gone unbeaten in 11 La Liga fixtures on the bounce (W9, D2).
However, an underwhelming 1-0 defeat at relegation-battling Getafe in their opening league match of 2022 might have brought second-placed Sevilla back into the title race.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men still harbour a five-point lead over the Andalusian outfit, but with Julen Lopetegui’s side having a game in hand, there is no margin for error here.
Valencia closed 2021 out with a heartbreaking 2-1 home loss to newly-promoted Espanyol, ending a run of three top-flight victories beforehand.
The visitors’ hopes of bouncing back in their first La Liga match of 2022 are thin on the ground as they have lost their last three league visits to Madrid by an aggregate score of 7-0.
Prediction: Real Madrid 2-1 Valencia
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