Spanish LaLiga

La Liga Tips: Real Sociedad to continue resurgence versus Almeria

Imanol Alguacil animates his team from the sidelines
Imanol Alguacil's have recovered their form ahead of the season's final stretch

Just eight games remain for each side in La Liga this season, and Jamie Kemp returns to preview a matchday 31 with plenty at stake at both ends of the division...

  • Brahim Diaz to sustain Real Madrid's creation at Mallorca

  • Youssef En-Nesyri can be Las Palmas' achilles heel

  • Real Sociedad should have few problems versus Almeria

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Mallorca - Real Madrid, Sat 17:30

It's back to the day job for Mallorca following their Copa del Rey final defeat last weekend (on penalties), and it's safe to say Javier Aguirre's side won't be winding down their season now their big night has been and gone. The islanders still have plenty of work to do to stave off relegation.

Even in the post-match press conference following a delicate defeat on penalties, Aguirre was already turning his attention to the forthcoming league games. And with Real Madrid next up on Saturday, followed by games against fellow rivals for the drop in Sevilla and Cadiz, you can see just why. Though Ancelotti is likely to rotate this weekend, Mallorca still have a mammoth task ahead of them to pick up points.

Of course, Real Madrid will have more than an eye on their trip to the Etihad Stadium next week. With their tie against Manchester City finely balanced at 3-3, and a relatively healthy cushion at the top of La Liga for now, it makes sense to hold back a couple of his stars for the Mallorca trip.

Having only played the last 20 minutes or so during the week, I'd expect Brahim Diaz to be one of the main players Ancelotti is hastily rotating in. The Moroccan is just the type of player Real Madrid will need to break down the home side's defensive block, and he's either scored or assisted in three of his last four games in La Liga.

Along with a goal or assist for Brahim, I'll back a card for Mallorca midfielder Samu Costa. The Portuguese produced a colossal display in the Copa del Rey final, and was the player involved in the most duels (26) in the match. He managed to escape a card despite making four fouls on the night, but he'll no doubt be pushing the limits in another defensive effort this weekend.

Back Brahim Diaz to score or assist and a card for Samu Costa @ 4/15.00

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Las Palmas - Sevilla, Sun 13:00

After being outstanding for the majority of the season on their return La Liga, things haven't been quite so fluent for Las Palmas in the last few months. Garcia Pimienta's side come into this one on a run of six games without a win (D2 L4), and have lost each of the last three in a row - both their longest winless run and longest losing streak of the current league campaign.

Los Amarillos retain a healthy 12-point cushion to the relegation zone, while according to Opta's predictor data for La Liga, their chances of going down from this stage are less than one percent. Despite that, there's still a sense that they need to pick up a victory soon and restore the mood on the island. It'd be a shame for them to limp over the line, having performed so well for the majority of the campaign.

With respect to Sevilla, they're a little closer to the drop zone as it stands. However, although their gap to 18th place is just six points, Opta's season predictor data still has seven teams more likely to face the drop than them (2.6%). Even if the current table doesn't scream security, Quique Sanchez Flores' side are close to closing the threat of the drop.

As for Sunday's game itself, the play is likely to follow a rather predictable pattern. Las Palmas will have a monopoly on possession and try to slowly edge their way into chances, while Sevilla will pack their defensive lines and wait for their chances to hit on the counter.

Though Las Palmas will have the ball for the majority, Sevilla and Youssef En-Nesyri will know they only need a handful of attacking situations to be able to get on the scoreboard. The 26-year-old's aerial prowess and box presence provides a matchup Las Palmas' defenders often struggle with, and only three players have bettered his five goals in La Liga since the start of February.

Back Youssef En-Nesyri to score anytime @ 9/52.80

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Real Sociedad - Almeria, Sun 20:00

If there's any team who'd be happy to call it a day on 2023-24 in La Liga, it'd most certainly be Almeria. With just one victory in 30 games this term, the south coast side are already likely as occupied with planning for next season as much as they're focused on the current one. Their performance and 3-0 defeat to Osasuna last time out would certainly back that up.

On the other hand, Real Sociedad are a team who aren't taking anything lightly. Since being knocked out of the Champions League by Paris Saint-Germain, the kinder schedule and decreased physical demands have seen Imanol Alguacil's side return to their typically reliable selves. La Real have won each of their last three games in La Liga, their longest streak since last September.

Since having their duties narrowed down to just the one competition, a team built on intensity and a rock solid defence have looked wholly recognisable again, and their ability to impose themselves on their opponent has been restored with fresher legs and minds. When other teams and players might be starting to wind down a little - subconsciously or not - Alguacil will not allow any relaxation from his side.

On the back of consecutive wins to nil, I'll opt for Real Sociedad to keep their streak alive in this one. Almeria have only kept one clean sheet in their last 45 away games, while La Real are precisely the side who will be prepared to win by fine margins if needed. Rather than blowing weaker opponents away, they almost always see it through with a professional job and a watertight defence.

With Takefusa Kubo an injury doubt to arrive to this game, I'll include a shot on target for Ander Barrenetxea on the opposite flank. With the home side generating a lot of attacks through the wings at the Reale Arena, their man on the left side should be the one to pick up some extra work in the absence of Kubo.

Back Real Sociedad to win, no to both teams to score, and 1+ shot on target for Ander Barrenetxea @ 15/82.88

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