La Liga Round 22

14 Feb

And then there was one. Well played Jose, it looks like you’ll leave Spain with your head held high. A 10 point lead over the greatest team in the world is a pretty large gap, and one that you don’t expect a Jose Mourinho team to lose. If Barca beat Madrid again in the league, and go on to win the Champions League (possibly beating Madrid again) – it’ll be a bittersweet success for the fans and the boss. But that’s a lot of ifs. After losing away to Osasuna, Barcelona left themselves with a Bernebeu shamped mountain to climb, and Real Madrid have won 17 of their last 18 games. Good luck with that. As mentioned by La Liga expert Sid Lowe in the excellent Football Weekly, this could well be the weekend that decided the Spanish Title. Madrid can lose 3 games of the last 16 and still win the league.

Busquets after hearing about the 10 point gap

So with that decided, we can look at the rest of the league. Apart from Madrid’s ridiculous winning run, there’s been some other notable trends, that i’ve touched on before. For the seventh game running, Levante failed to pick up a win. For the seventh game running, they managed to stay in the last Champions League spot. But Seville can top that – they’ve picked up just 2 points from the last 8 games as they’ve plummeted to 13th. Unlucky for some. But wait, there’s more! And this is quite the shock – and no, it’s not Falcao scoring against anyone good. Bottom side Real Zaragoza, ended Round 22 with a win, their first in 14 (fourteen) games. And more surprising than that is that it was against 5th placed Espanyol (see Levante, Lucky). And it was away!

And so onto the Average Opposition Index for La Liga’s goalscorers:

Ronaldo scored his 6th hat trick of the season (there was another penalty involved for those wondering). This takes him up to 27 league goals this season, and more importantly for his AOI rating, this latest treble was against 4th placed Levante (seriously, how are they still in 4th!?). Not only does that increase his average opponent per goal to 8.59th place, it also takes his goals against Top 6 opponents to a massive 12. Add that to the recent goals against Barca (albeit in the cup), and you get the feeling that Cris, as some people probably call him, has silenced a few critics. I’d like to claim an assist here, as it seems to have happened since the Messi vs Ronaldo comparison. You’re welcome Cristiano.

Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid played 3rd placed Valencia in Round 21 which meant that Falcao had a chance to prove us wrong and deliver in a big game. It finished 0-0. He retains the Flat Track Bully Tag for this season.

Cesc Fabregas keeps hold of the Big Game Player title, though hasn’t scored since Round 17. Real Betis’ Castro Martin has a very respectable 7.29 which is largely down to a brace against Valencia, and one against Barcelona, whilst Higuain is in 4th place in the AOI ranking behind his team mate Ronaldo in 3rd.

After the success of my Premier League Predictions for Round 24, I thought it’d be interesting to try and apply it to another league. So, with nothing to gain (I don’t generally bet), but plenty to lose (any credibility) here are the fixtures for this weekend, and my predictions:

1. Falcao to score against 19th place Gijon – his AOI is the worst in the Top Scorers list, and he has 3 against 20th placed teams, and 2 against 18th placed.

2.  Llorente to score against Malaga – he has a decent average of 9.36, and has 3 against Top 6 teams, so a team in 7th should be within range.

3. Messi to score against Valencia – to increase his record vs Top 6, and because he’s the best player in the World. Can you bet on assists?

4. It’s tempting to go for a Levante win – their average opponent per win is 7.88 or 8th. They’re well overdue a win, and are at home against a consistently inconsistent Vallecano (LLWWLLWW). Though confidence is very low – so check the odds and it might be worth a fiver.

I’ve not included Ronaldo to score against Racing as they have a Champions League game in the mid week after. If he plays though, it’s probably gonna result in a hat trick.

Good Luck.

Bundesliga and Serie A to follow this week.

Cheers,

Liam

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