Spanish LaLiga

La Liga Tips: Goals to flow again between Girona and Barcelona

Artem Dovbyk celebrates scoring for Girona
Girona have the current 'Pichichi' Artem Dovbyk in their ranks

Jamie Kemp returns to preview three fixtures on Matchday 34 in La Liga, headlined by the standout clash of the weekend between Girona and Barcelona...

Real Sociedad v Las Palmas - Sat, 13:00

For the second week in a row, I'm afraid I'm eyeing another defeat for Las Palmas. Admittedly, it's a pretty simple equation to make for a team who have lost each of their last six games in La Liga, but this fixture in particular just looks very problematic for the Islanders.

What we have here is one of the most suffocating pressing teams in La Liga going up against a side who will try to play through and around it; something they've not done particularly well in the second half of the campaign. And when Las Palmas do decide to play long, Real Sociedad also have the one-v-one defenders to mop up danger and dissuade them from doing so.

That's the stylistic clash that will be in play, and the tale of the tape in terms of attack versus defence isn't great news for the visitors either. Garcia Pimienta's side rank last in La Liga for xG this season (28.6), while the home team have the third-best defensive record when using expected goals (34.6).

Of course, we've also got the pretty big element in play that Real Sociedad are playing for something very tangible, while Las Palmas are all but safe and likely already thinking about next season. La Real need to stave off the likes of Real Betis and Valencia if they're to secure a European qualification spot this term, and a home game against Saturday's opposition really should be seeing them strengthen their case.

Imanol Alguacil's side haven't been prolific this season, but a motivated team with reasons left to compete should have the upper hand against a drifting opponent. Las Palmas' collapsing form has also manifested in ill discipline of late, with two 2.2 cards per game in 2024 and a red card in two of their last four.

Back Real Sociedad to score 2+ goals; Real Sociedad 5+ corners & Las Palmas 2+ cards @ 15/82.88

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Girona v Barcelona - Sat, 17:30

Girona's ambitions of qualifying for the Champions League are on the verge of being fulfilled, although this fixture represents another incentive for the home side. Michel's men can move ahead of Barcelona into 2nd position with a victory in this game, and it goes without saying that finishing above their Catalan rivals would add another historic element to their season.

Indeed, a victory in this fixture for the home side would also seal a league double over Barcelona. Girona won 4-2 in their previous meeting back in December 2023 - a game that saw teams trading chances at will, and in which Michel's side were ultimately able to land the harder blows in their exchanges.

Along with six goals, the reverse fixture between Barcelona and Girona had a combined 46 shots and 92 touches in the penalty area - both of which remain the most in a single game in La Liga this season. Indeed, the 18 shots on target is second only to another game in which Girona were involved this term (21 v Atletico Madrid in January).

Despite all the potential storylines from Girona's perspective, it's not to say that this will be an easy game or another three points in waiting. Barcelona's form has been steady since Xavi announced he would step down (although he's since walked that back), and their only defeat in their last 12 in La Liga came away from home in the Clasico - a game they lost in added time.

In the absence of picking a result for fear of an end-to-end, chaotic game opening up and just about anything happening, I'll stick with there to be plenty of goals at Montilivi. As well as that, a goal or assist for Ilkay Gundogan looks a decent bet - he's been a menace from set pieces this season (12 assists in all competitions) and scored in the reverse fixture against Girona in December.

Back over 3.5 goals and Ilkay Gundogan to score or assist @ 10/34.33

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Valencia v Alaves - Sun, 17:30

After two big victories against Atletico Madrid and Celta Vigo back-to-back, Alaves have all but managed to close the topic of relegation in 2023-24. Indeed, with just five games left and a 12-point cushion to the drop zone, the promoted side now look almost certain to maintain their La Liga status this season and confirm it as a successful one.

It's not been an easy campaign for Alaves by any stretch of the imagination. They've struggled for goals and had to manage the margins often this term, prioritising their defensive compactness over being a side who tend to elaborate much with the ball. It's for that reason their games have only seen 69 goals this season - more than only Mallorca (66).

As for Valencia, they've done a much better job of yielding points from a strong defensive base this season, but the action in both boxes has been similarly short on supply. They've scored 37 and conceded 38 this term, while Mestalla is the stadium that has seen the second-fewest goals in La Liga - again only behind Mallorca and their Son Moix base (27).

Among the most consequential news for Valencia in this game is that they'll be without Giorgi Mamardashvili, following his sending off at Barcelona last time out. The Georgian has been the best shot stopper in La Liga this season, keeping 12 clean sheets and leading all goalkeepers for goals prevented in terms of xG on target faced (+9.6 - 34 conceded from 43.6 xG on target).

Valencia's replacement - the 33-year-old Jaume Domenech - is very much a back-up goalkeeper and looked shaky in a number of situations as Barcelona sealed their comeback last time out. And so in a game where the home side will want to protect their stopper as much as possible, I'll opt for another low-scoring event here.

Back under 2.5 goals and Valencia to have more corners @ 9/52.80

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