La Liga is back. The highlights of the weekend comes at the Camp Nou, where Barcelona face Sevilla. Here are five bold predictions.
Sevilla lead La Liga as the second international break comes to an end, but they have a visit to second-place Barcelona ahead of them. Atletico Madrid travel to Villarreal for what should be a tasty clash. Real Madrid have a relatively easy home match against Levante, although their attention is likely to be on next week’s El Clasico.
It’s been a turbulent first eight games with Sevilla, Alaves and Espanyol all impressing while the usual top three have been sloppy and Villarreal, Valencia and Athletic Bilbao are all much lower than expected. Here are five bold predictions for matchday 9.
5. Alaves beat Celta Vigo to go top of the table
Alaves and Celta Vigo start the weekend off with a Friday night match in Galicia. Alaves are two points behind the league leaders, so a win in this game would see them go top of the table, albeit briefly as Barcelona and Sevilla are playing each other so one of them is guaranteed to take first place.
Nonetheless, it would still be an impressive achievement for the Basque outfit seeing as this is only their third season in the top division and their financial resources are significantly less than most other teams in the league.
Alaves should have the beating of Celta Vigo because they are precisely the sort of team they thrive playing against. They can sit deep and frustrate them due to how organized they are, which allows them to quickly plug any gaps that open up. Celta’s open style will allow Alaves to break quickly and pick them off on the counter as they have done against other sides.
Both sides started the season well, but have moved apart due to contrasting form which reflects the sustainability of their approaches. Celta’s style means individual mistakes can have a bigger effect while Alaves are willing to sit deep and absorb pressure. Even with that in mind, Alaves are overperforming in terms of the underlying numbers. They’ve scored 11 goals from 7.38 xG (expected goals) as well as conceding eight goals from 11.50 xGA (expected goals against), per Understat.
Therefore, they’re likely to lose form after a while when they revert back to the mean. Nonetheless, they can still take advantage of a side who are themselves overperforming in front of goal — 13 goals from 8.49 xG. Jonathan Calleri has two goals in the last four game so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him bag one in this match against a leaky Celticos defense, which has conceded 10 in the last five games.