La Liga Matchday 26 Preview: Barcelona With 9 Point Lead Coming In
All Eyes on Barcelona vs. Real Madrid
Fourth of Five Clasicos in 2022-23
League leaders Barcelona hold a nine-point lead over defending champions Real Madrid heading into La Liga Matchday 26. The league’s top two teams will meet in another edition of El Clasico on Sunday, with Real desperately needing a win. Should Los Blancos pull off a third straight road win in this fixture, they’ll very much be back in the title race. While all eyes will be on El Clasico this weekend, La Liga’s other Champions League contenders will all be in action. Let’s review the odds from the biggest matches of the weekend in our Matchday 26 preview.
Match of the Week
The top two teams in the La Liga standings meet in El Clasico on Sunday. Real Madrid are coming off a 1-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu over Liverpool to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday. On aggregate, Los Blancos dominated 6-2 and are in a good position to defend their UCL crown. However, Karim Benzema picked up a late foot injury as he scored the winning goal and is listed as day-to-day. In any case, Barcelona come in as ½-goal favorites.
Barcelona defeated Real just a few weeks ago in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals. They also picked up a 3-1 win in the Copa de España final in January over Los Blancos. After a couple years of Real Madrid Clasico dominance, Barcelona have won three of the last four meetings, in all competitions. Hosts Barça sit at +115 ATS and moneyline odds and have won 1-0 in three consecutive matches. Pedri is also expected to return in time for El Clasico after missing the last month.
Following their win over Liverpool, Real Madrid show -140 odds to cover and win or draw. Los Blancos also display +215 odds to win and close the gap between them and Barcelona to six points. None of the last nine meetings have finished in draws but a deadlock comes in at +265 odds. While Karim Benzema is doubtful for Real, defender David Alaba remains out with a hamstring injury. Along with being the biggest rivalry in Spanish soccer, El Clasico is usually a highly entertaining match. Seven of the last eight head-to-head matchups have finished in three or more goals. The odds price over 2½ goals at -120 here as well.
Other Important Matches
Atletico Madrid will put their eight-game unbeaten streak on the line on La Liga Matchday 26 vs. struggling Valencia. Valencia enter the weekend in 17th place, only outside of the relegation zone on goal difference. They have managed two wins in their last three matches, though, and defeated Osasuna 1-0 last Saturday. Valencia’s matches have been quite low-scoring recently, as six of their last seven games have finished with two goals or fewer. This weekend, under 2½ goals come in at -145 odds. However. Atletico put six goals on Sevilla a couple weeks back.
Atleti also won against Almeria on Monday through a late Alvaro Morata goal. Morata has scored three goals in the last two matches coming off the bench. Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid enter the match vs. Valencia as one-goal favorites. They’ve won four of their last five La Liga matches and sit at +120 odds to cover the spread. Atleti are also -170 moneyline favorites and have won four of the last five meetings. They’re also unbeaten in an incredible 16 straight matches vs. Valencia. A draw would be a great result for visiting Valencia and one displays +285 odds here.
Meanwhile, Valencia come in at -140 odds to cover the spread and they haven’t lost by more than one goal in any of their last six matches. Valencia last beat Atletico in 2014 and the odds price this rare event at +500. Atletico defender Reinildo is out for the season but Simeone has all of his other key players at his disposal. On the other hand, Gabriel Paulista and Toni Lato have missed the last few games in defense for Valencia. They could return in time for this match, along with striker Edinson Cavani.
One of the most intriguing matches on this weekend’s La Liga schedule is Real Betis vs. Mallorca. Real Betis are unbeaten in their last five matches and are just three points outside of the top four. Mallorca currently sit in tenth place and have dropped three of their last five matches. However, they did manage to come back last Sunday vs. fourth-placed Real Sociedad to preserve a draw. This match features two of the most prolific goal scorers in La Liga. Borja Iglesias has scored 11 times for Betis this season, while Vedat Muriqi has found the net on 10 occasions for Mallorca.
Heading into Sunday’s match, Betis are ½-goal favorites at -120 ATS and moneyline odds. They take on Manchester United on Thursday in the second leg of the Europa League round of 16, though. With a 4-1 deficit, Betis certainly have their backs against the wall. Notably, Mallorca have just three road wins in 12 matches this season. Mallorca +½ is listed at even odds and the visitors also show +380 odds to get their first win over Betis since 2013. Betis are unbeaten in the last seven meetings, with a 5-2-0 record. Borja Iglesias scored a brace in the reverse fixture in a 2-1 win for Betis.
A draw displays +230 odds here and it’d be a third straight for Betis in the league. On the road at Villarreal last Sunday, Borja Iglesias scored but the match finished at 1-1. Betis also impressively held Real Madrid to a scoreless draw on La Liga Matchday 24. Both Betis and Mallorca have conceded barely over a goal per game this season and over two goals sit at -120 odds for the match.
Following Real Betis vs. Mallorca, Osasuna host Villarreal on La Liga Matchday 26. The last time these teams met, back in October, Villarreal’s Arnaut Danjuma scored the only two goals of the match. Danjuma is off to Tottenham now and other scoring options have stepped up for Villarreal in recent weeks. Jose Luis Morales has scored in three of Villarreal’s last four La Liga matches and Gerard Moreno leads the team with six goals. While Villarreal have been solid at home this season, they have just a 4-3-6 record on the road. Visitors Villarreal are slightly favored in this match, though.
Before they take on Osasuna, Villarreal host Anderlecht on Thursday in the UEFA Europa Conference League. Even on short rest, Villarreal sit at -135 odds to cover the spread in this pick’em. Meanwhile, Osasuna pk displays +115 odds and the hosts also come in at +200 odds to win the match. Before falling to Villarreal earlier this season, they had won the previous three meetings. The latest odds also price Villarreal at +145 odds to win the match and a draw at +220 odds. However, none of the last 11 meetings have finished level.
After a strong start to the season, Osasuna have stumbled as of late. They’ve won just one of their last eight league matches and fell 1-0 to Valencia last Saturday. While Ruben Garcia is expected to be available for this match, Osasuna defender Nacho Vidal is doubtful with an undisclosed injury. Francis Coquelin is the only player on the injury report for Villarreal. Regardless, nine of the last 11 meetings between these two teams have finished with three or more goals. Following that trend, over two goals show -135 odds for the match.