La Liga Matchday 34 betting preview: Real struggle at San Mames
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Barcelona squandered a pair of leads and Sevilla thrashed Leganes, but an away win for Athletic helped mitigate the damage on Matchday 33.

Let's make that back this weekend.

Valencia (+140) at Granada (+200), Draw (+200)

The turbulence at Valencia reached a boiling point this week as the club relieved manager Albert Celades of his duties and sporting director Cesar Sanchez resigned. It's been coming for some time; there's unrest among players and management - and outrage from supporters - with the club losing three in a row and essentially dropping out of the race for Europe.

And it's not just that they're losing. It's how they're losing that's so troubling. The players have demonstrated a general lack of interest and effort, and the club doesn't appear to have any real game plan. Valencia are sputtering miserably in attack, managing just one shot on target in their last three matches.

Any hopes of a boost from a change at manager were dashed in Wednesday's loss to Athletic, but it's hardly surprising after Valencia appointed Voro Gonzalez for a remarkable sixth spell as temporary manager. He's a familiar face at a club that desperately needs a new voice.

With the organization in disarray, don't expect much to change between now and the end of the season. Granada are coming off a big win over Alaves, which should provide them with some confidence as they refuse to abandon a push for Europa League football. The newly promoted side will smell blood here, and it certainly has the squad to take advantage.

Pick: Granada (+200)

Real Madrid (-175) at Athletic (+425), Draw (+300)

Holding their largest lead of the season atop the table - four points up on Barcelona - Real Madrid can nearly taste the title. They've been perfect with six wins from six matches since play resumed, but with all due respect to their opponents thus far, a visit to San Mames for El Viejo Clasico represents their toughest test since the hiatus ended.

Athletic have been in top form of late, losing just once since the restart in a narrow and ultimately unlucky 1-0 defeat to Barca at Camp Nou. They've also been excellent at the friendly confines of San Mames, where they've lost just three of their last 30 league matches. They've beaten Atletico Madrid and Barcelona over that span, while also drawing Atletico once.

Gaizka Garitano has his men playing excellent football at the moment, and they won't back down with Real Madrid in town. Athletic have their sights set on a top-six finish and are currently four points back of that goal; any sort of positive result here will go a long way in helping their cause. Real Madrid have drawn each of their last two trips to San Mames and won just two of their last five at the venue - both narrow 2-1 victories. The visitors will drop their first points since the restart here.

Pick: Draw (+300)

Barcelona (-160) at Villarreal (+375), Draw (+300)

Barcelona supporters have plenty of cause for concern right now. Ignore the league table, where Barca are quickly falling out of the title race. The real worry has to be their exceptionally poor form of late. Many of their players are struggling, none of the new signings are fitting in, and the club seems to lack an effective approach on the pitch. There's much work to be done to improve the worst Barcelona team in years.

It's a terrible time, then, for a visit to El Madrigal and a date with a Villarreal side currently in the best form of any club in La Liga. Javier Calleja's team has won five of six since the restart, drawing Sevilla in its other match. Villarreal have been terrific at home this season, drawing both Real Madrid and Atletico at El Madrigal earlier in the campaign.

If anything, the hosts will be sensing an opportunity to claim all three points against a sputtering Barcelona side, and there's certainly value in playing them at +375. Yet for all of Barca's struggles, they have yet to lose since the restart, and they haven't tasted defeat at Villarreal since 2007. Still, they've won just once in four trips to El Madrigal. The visitors are wildly overpriced to claim three points Sunday, with a sharing of the spoils on the cards.

Pick: Draw (+300)

Full card:

  • Celta Vigo (+130)
  • Granada (+200)
  • Athletic/Real Madrid draw (+300)
  • Villarreal/Barcelona draw (+300)
  • Levante/Real Sociedad draw (+225)

(Odds source: theScore Bet)

Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.

La Liga Matchday 34 betting preview: Real struggle at San Mames
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