Spanish LaLiga

La Liga Tips: Back Griezmann to fire in Madrid derby

Girona's Montilivi home illuminated by the floodlights
Montilivi has been the setting for plenty of classic games this season

Ahead of the final midweek round of the 2023-24 La Liga campaign, Jamie Kemp returns to preview three fixtures across the division, including a standout clash between Girona and Villarreal...

  • Real Madrid to outscore Alaves at the Bernabeu

  • Alexander Sorloth can give Girona problems at the back

  • Atletico and Griezmann to clinch Champions League spot

Betfair Superboost at Old Trafford

Since the turn of the year, Erik Ten Hag's side are facing, on average, 20.5 shots per game in the Premier League.

Arsenal (11) are the only side within their last 19 Premier League games not to hit the 16 mark, with Palace (18), Burnley (16), Chelsea (28) and Brentford (31) all firing shots at will in recent weeks against Man Utd.

Indeed, in the reverse fixture between the two earlier this season - a 1-0 win for Newcastle - the Magpies managed 22 attempts that day too.

You can back Eddie Howe's men to hit 16 or more in tonight's match at Old Trafford at the Superboost price of 1/12.00.

Getafe v Atletico Madrid - Wed, 21:00

Getafe come into this Madrid derby on the back of consecutive defeats in La Liga, while the last time they lost three in a row under Jose Bordalas was all the way back in May 2021. His side don't tend to stay in the losing column for often, although it'd be fair to say they're not exactly in their best form of the season in terms of performances either.

Bordalas' team had a run of just one defeat in 12 games between September and December, however only five teams have won fewer points than them (17) since the turn of the year. Following the season-ending injury to Borja Mayoral, los Azulones have not only lost his goals and committed work in the frontline, but also seemingly some belief in their capacity to get results over the line outside of dogged defending.

Mayoral has netted 15 goals in La Liga this season, while his minutes per goal average (144) is twice as good as any other Getafe player (Mason Greenwood on 300). Without the player who had been making the difference for them on the attacking end, Getafe look resigned to rounding out the season in fairly mundane fashion.

For Atletico, meanwhile, a win here will seal their place in the Champions League next season. It's very likely they'll cling on to a top four spot regardless, but Diego Simeone won't want to wait any longer than Wednesday night to confirm it. From his perspective, this will be a Champions League game in itself.

When Atletico are playing for something tangible, you can usually expect Antoine Griezmann to be the one making it happen. The Frenchman hasn't been in his best form of late, neither in front of goal or as a playmaker, although he's still been racking up the shots and playing with plenty of persistence. He's averaged over three shots per game in his last 11 starts, and I'll take him to come to the fore here in an Atletico victory.

Real Madrid v Alaves - Tues, 20:30

After dispatching Granada with a convincing 4-0 away win on Saturday, Real Madrid spent their Sunday dancing round the streets of the Spanish capital, celebrating the title they had - until then - not had the chance to fully enjoy. Within it all, the image of Carlo Ancelotti in his sunglasses and with a cigar hanging from his mouth was a pretty good metaphor for how things are going for them at the moment.

For Alaves, their objective for the season is already secured and they're likely to finish as the best-performing promoted side too. After spending many weeks trailing Las Palmas in the table, Luis Garcia Plaza's side have turned on some of their best form of the campaign to surge past the struggling islanders. And you can bet they're not ready to start coasting either.

Alaves have taken 10 points from their last 12 available in La Liga (W3 D1), beating Atletico Madrid, Celta Vigo and Valencia all in succession without conceding a goal, before earning a valuable 2-2 draw with Girona last time out. In fact, for this stage of the season, one could argue Alaves are competing just about as well as anyone in the division at the moment.

It's hard to sway too far from a Real Madrid victory in this one, given the positivity surrounding the club, the performance of their second-string players, and the fact they're playing at the Bernabeu. However, it'd be logical if Ancelotti's side perhaps weren't at their absolute best here, with the title now already celebrated and a Champions League final on the horizon.

Against an Alaves side who are happy to live without the ball and who'll come armed with a solid gameplan to hit on the counter, I'll back them to fall to a valiant defeat in which they can land a blow or two of their own.

Girona v Villarreal - Tue, 21:00

Girona finally have their long-awaited Champions League qualification in the bag, but such is the nature of their season and the ambition of their coach, their attention has now turned towards fighting to finish above Barcelona. In an already historic season for them, snatching second place from their Catalan neighbours really would be the cherry on top.

Michel's side have been incredible at Montilivi this season, taking 44 points from 51 available on home soil and winning in style more often than not. Girona have averaged more goals per home game than any other team in La Liga in 2023-24, while their average of 2.7 is even a touch higher than what Manchester City have averaged at home in the Premier League this term (2.67).

Although a look at the table would logically make Girona strong favourites in this one, the truth is there's not been much daylight between them and Villarreal in this second half of the season specifically. In fact, across both team's last 15 matches in the competition, Villarreal have won more points (29) than Girona (26), and managed to outscore them too (32 to 29).

One of the big reasons for the latter has been the form of Alexander Sorloth. Girona may have the man who has dominated the Pichichi race for most of this season in the form of Artem Dovbyk (20 goals), but Sorloth sits now just a goal behind him (19) and has undoubtedly been the best striker in the division since the turn of the year.

Against a Villarreal team in strong form and whose project appears to be going from strength to strength under Marcelino, I'll back them to put on a highly competitive performance here. The mobility of Sorloth should bring just the type of threat Girona's defence - which lacks athleticism - typically struggle to deal with.

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