La Liga Odds & Picks: How to Bet Real Madrid, Barcelona, 4 Other Matches on Thursday

Credit:

David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images. Pictured: Karim Benzema

  • The La Liga season wraps up this Sunday, but we have a loaded slate today with nine of the 10 matches kicking off at 3 p.m. ET, including Real Madrid, Barcelona, and more.
  • Barcelona has a particularly big game against Osasuna, and they'll need all three points to stay alive in the title race or else rival Real Madrid will be crowned champion.
  • Where are the biggest betting edges on today's huge La Liga slate? I give my favorite bets below.

There is still a ton to play for in heading into Thursday’s La Liga action. It’s Matchday 37, with nine of 10 matches kicking off at 3 p.m. ET before the season wraps up Sunday.

Here’s what’s on the line:

  • Real Madrid can capture the La Liga title with a win at home against Villarreal.
  • Sevilla and Atletico Madrid are tied on points, battling it out to see who has to go through Champions League qualification.
  • Villarreal can secure a Europa League spot with a win and or a Getafe/Real Sociedad draw or loss.
  • Getafe, Real Sociedad, Valencia, Granada, Athletic Bilbao, and Osasuna are all still alive for the final Europa League spot.
  • With Real Soceiedad and Athletic Bilbao set to face each other in the Copa Del Rey Final, one team will be guaranteed a Europa League spot, which opens up the possibility of the 7th-place team in the table qualifying for the Europa League.
  • Leganes and Mallorca are in the relegation zone, four points behind Celta Vigo and Alaves, who can both secure another season in La Liga with a win on Thursday.

Let’s break down all eight matches.

Eibar vs. Real Valladolid

12:30pm ET, beIN Sports Connect

Both of these sides have secured another season in La Liga, so they have nothing to play for in this match. However, that doesn’t mean this match doesn’t provide any value.

Eibar’s underlying metrics since the restart have been fantastic for a team near the bottom of the table. Los Armeros has won the expected goals battle in 9.15 to 7.69 and are allowing only 0.96 xG per match since the restart. Eibar’s underlying metrics at home this season have been solid, with a +2.01 expected goal differential, which is pretty good for a team near the bottom of the table.

Real Valladolid was really fortunate to secure another season in La Liga, as they should have been in the relegation zone. Based on expected points, Pucela should be in 19th place, instead of 14th.

Valladolid’s underlying metrics on the road this season have been awful. On average Pucela is losing by 0.98 expected goals per match away from home this season (0.78 xGF, 1.76 xGA).

Since the restart, Valladolid’s terrible offensive output has continued, as they’re averaging just 0.95 xG per match in their last nine matches.

Based on my model, I think Eibar is slightly undervalued at home against Real Valladolid, so I am going to back Los Armeros to grab all three points.

  • Eibar projected odds: -110 (52.32% win probability)
  • Real Valladolid projected odds: +419 (19.28%)
  • Draw projected odds: +252 (28.39%)
  • Eibar projected xG: 1.32
  • Real Valladolid projected xG: 0.80
Pick: Eibar +120

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Valencia vs. Espanyol

3:00pm ET, beIN Sport Connect

Valencia is fighting to stay alive in the race for Europa League football, while Espanyol has already been relegated to the Segunda Division. So, the home team is the only one with something to play for.

Valencia has been one of the most overrated team in La Liga all season long. That sentiment has been especially true at home where their actual goal differential of +12 is a tad fraudulent. Based on expected goals, Los murcelagos only have a +3.99 xGD, which ranks 14th in La Liga.

Since the restart, Valencia has been in terrible form, averaging only 0.95 xG per match, while allowing 1.51 xG per. What’s even more alarming is they’ve lost the expected goals battle in seven of those nine matches. Even though lowly Espanyol has nothing to play for, victory is not a certainty for Valencia on Thursday.

It’s hard to find good things to say about Espanyol, who have already secured their relegation to the Segunda Division for the first time in 26 years. The underlying metrics are not pretty either as Espanyol ranks in the bottom five of La Liga in expected goals for and against. Things haven’t gotten much better since the restart for the Periquitos, as they’ve lost their last seven matches.

My pick in this match is purely based on Valencia being overrated, along with some hope that Espanyol will play for a little bit of pride. Based on my model, I am going to back the last place Periquitos +1 at Valencia:

  • Valencia projected odds: +108 (47.97% win probability)
  • Espanyol projected odds: +277 (26.55%)
  • Draw projected odds: +293 (25.48%)
  • Valencia projected xG: 1.53
  • Espanyol projected xG: 1.11
Pick: Espanyol +1 (-121)

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Real Madrid vs. Villarreal 

3:00pm ET, beIN Sports en Espanyol

Los Blancos have a chance to capture the title on Thursday, while Villarreal has a chance to clinch Europa League football next season. A loss for either team would mean they would need a result on Sunday to clinch their goals.

Real Madrid has been perfect since the restart, winning their last nine matches, while outscoring their opponents 17-3. Real however, did look a little vulnerable at Granda on Monday, as they needed a fantastic defensive effort late in the second hold off Granada’s onslaught on goal.

It was the first time since the restart that Los Blancos lost the expected goals battle. There is no cause for concern for Real’s title hopes, but from a betting stand point, it makes fading Real Madrid easier to stomach.

Villarreal has been in really good form since the restart, winning six of their last nine matches, with a +3.48 expected goal differential. They’ve been in especially good form on the road as of late, winning their last four matches and outscoring their opponents 7 to 1. Real Madrid has had a tough time with Villarreal over the past few years as the series is 1-2-1 in their last five meetings.

Earlier this year, the two sides finished in a 2-2 draw and based on the expected goals report, Villarreal deserved the draw with the league leaders.

Based on my model, I think there is slight value in taking Villarreal on the spread:

  • Real Madrid projected odds: -165 (62.28% win probability)
  • Villarreal projected odds: +473 (17.47%)
  • Draw projected odds: +394 (20.25%)
  • Real Madrid projected xG: 2.11
  • Villarreal projected xG: 1.04
Pick: Villarreal +1 (+130)

Barcelona vs. Osasuna

3:00pm ET, beIN Sports

Barcelona needs all three points to stay alive in the La Liga title race or else their hated rivals Real Madrid will be crowned champions. Osasuna is still mathematically alive in the race for European football and need all three points to stay alive.

Based on their standards, Barcelona have been terrible since the restart. They’ve earned 21 points out of a possible 27 and “only” have an expected goal differential of +6.14. What’s been most alarming is they’ve generated only 1.85 xG in their last two matches against last place Espanyol and 14th place Real Valladolid.

Barca’s main issues have come from their supporting cast. Messi has tried to put Barca on his back, scoring or assisting on 11 of their 15 goals since the restart.

Those who have been following along with me on the Action Network app know I have a soft spot for Osasuna. It seems every single week I have bet placed on Los Rojillos. The reason for that is their underlying metrics show they are a much better team than their actual results have shown:

Goals For Goals Against
Actual 42 51
Expected 47.36 47.84

Thursday is a massive step up in competition for Osasuna, but based on my model, my love affair with Los Rojillos continues into Thursday:

  • Barcelona projected odds: -196 (66.25% win probability)
  • Osasuna projected odds: +621 (13.87%)
  • Draw projected odds: +403 (19.88%)
  • Barcelona projected xG: 2.10
  • Osasuna projected xG: 0.89
Pick: Osasuna +2 (+100)

Athletic Bilbao vs. Leganes

3:00pm ET, beIN Sports Connect

Athletic Bilbao basically has two opportunities to qualify for the Europa League. They can either win out and hope the two teams above them drop points or win the Copa Del Rey final against Real Sociedad. Leganes is fighting for their La Liga lives and needs all three points plus an Alaves/Celta Vigo draw or loss to stay alive.

Athletic Bilbao is among the most overrated teams in La Liga. They’ve been extremely fortunate defensively as they’ve allowed 48.24 xG for the season compared to their 32 actual goals allowed for the season. Much of their defensive variance translates to their home performances as well.

Athletic have a +9 actual goal differential, but only a 5.01 xGD at home this season. Negative regression is coming at some point in Bilbao’s future and it may just come today against Leganes.

Leganes will be kicking themselves after this season if they get relegated, because they deserve better. Their expected goals performances compared to their actual performances are a sight to behold:

Goals For Goals Against
Actual 26 49
Expected 35.91 43.93

In fact, based on expected points, Leganes should be in 11th place, but instead find themselves most likely heading down to the Segunda Division.

Based on my model, I think there is some value on Leganes to get at least a draw at Bilbao:

  • Athletic Bilbao projected odds: +126 (44.16% win probability)
  • Leganes projected odds: +278 (26.42%)
  • Draw projected odds: +241 (29.36%)
  • Athletic Bilbao projected xG: 1.20
  • Leganes projected xG: 0.92
Pick: Leganes +0.5 (-106)

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Mallorca vs. Granada

3:00pm ET; beIN Sports Connect

Mallorca is fighting for their La Liga lives, needing all three points and a Celta Vigo/Alaves draw or loss to stay alive. Granada is only four points off a the final Europa League spot, so they will be going all out in this game trying to close the gap.

It’s hard to understate just how bad Mallorca’s defense is. Los Bermellones rank dead last in terms of expected goals, conceding 1.75 per match. Since the restart, their defense hasn’t gotten much better, allowing 1.85 xG per match.

However, one bright spot for Mallorca is pretty much all of their success has come at home, where they’ve earned 27 of their 32 points this season. The underlying metrics tell a different, story as their -3.10 xGD at home ranks 19th in La Liga.

Granada has been the definition of average since the restart, going 3-3-3, with a +0.74 expected goal differential. They’ve been in solid form on the road as of late, going unbeaten since the restart.

Granada has done most of their damage against the bottom of the table this season. In nine matches against the bottom five teams in the La Liga, Granada has gone 7-2-0 and is outscoring their opponents 14-1.

This line makes zero sense to me. I understand that Mallorca is fighting for their La Liga lives, but Granada still has a lot to play for. Based on my model, I think the wrong team is favored:

  • Mallorca projected odds: +252 (28.37% win probability)
  • Granada projected odds: +124 (44.62%)
  • Draw projected odds: +270 (27.01%)
  • Mallorca projected xG: 1.08
  • Granada projected xG: 1.37
Pick: Granada +0.5 (-148)
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