La Liga Preview & Predictions: January 3, 2022

    The first round of 2022 La Liga fixtures is drawing to a close with a set of three Monday match-ups.

    Let’s take a quick at the three La Liga games scheduled for today.

    Villarreal vs Levante

    Monday’s La Liga action gets underway at the Estadio de la Ceramica as a resurgent Villarreal entertain basement boys Levante.

    Following a run of three league games without winning (D1, L2), the Yellow Submarine racked up three top-flight triumphs in a row to close 2021 out on a high.

    Although they languish in 10th in the standings ahead of the kick-off, Unai Emery’s men are only seven points adrift of fourth-placed Atletico Madrid, meaning their pursuit of the Champions League spots is still on.

    Therefore, a win at home against a Levante side they have defeated in their last three La Liga H2Hs could lay the foundations for Villarreal’s return in contention for a top-four finish.

    Hopeful of avoiding equalling their longest losing run against Villarreal in the competition (4), the Granotes head into the new year aware they cannot go lower than this.

    Sat eight points adrift of safety, the visitors have failed to win any of their opening 18 La Liga fixtures (D8, L10), losing the last two by the identical 4-3 scoreline. 

    Levante could become the second-ever side to go winless in their inaugural 19 matches of a new top-flight season, which would likely hinder faint hopes of staging a miraculous second-half-of-the-season comeback.

    Osasuna vs Athletic Bilbao

    Estadio El Sadar is the venue as Osasuna and Covid-plus-injury-hit Athletic Bilbao go head-to-head in a mid-table La Liga showdown.

    Since beating Villarreal 2-1 in mid-October, Los Rojillos have gone winless in their last nine La Liga outings (D5, L4), dousing early ambitions of pulling off their first top-four finish since 2005/06.

    A lack of firepower up front has seen Osasuna draw a blank in six of their last nine league games, with only Getafe (16) scoring fewer La Liga goals than them (17) among teams to start the year outside the drop zone.

    There are not many reasons for optimism in the home camp, as Jagoba Arrasate’s men have picked up just three wins from their last 17 top-flight meetings with Basque rivals on home turf (D5, L9).

    By contrast, Bilbao have racked up four victories in their last five La Liga games at Osasuna (L1), three of which came by a narrow one-goal margin.

    That said, Marcelino Garcia Toral’s players are winless in their last seven away league matches, six of which ended as a draw (L1), living up to their reputation as the ‘stalemate kings.’ 

    Cadiz vs Sevilla

    Sevilla’s league action in the new calendar year starts away to Cadiz at the Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla.

    Los Rojiblancos wasted a slender 1-0 lead to draw 1-1 with Barcelona in their final La Liga match of 2021, halting a run of three league victories in a row.

    However, Real Madrid’s shock 1-0 defeat at Getafe on Sunday may have thrown Julen Lopetegui’s side a lifeline in the title run-in as Sevilla could reduce the gap on top-placed Los Merengues to five points here.

    That, coupled with a game in hand over Carlo Ancelotti’s team, means the Andalusian heavyweights could be ending a 17-year three-club reign in La Liga this term.

    But achieving that feat requires small steps, and the first one is overcoming a Cadiz side that held Madrid goalless to round off an underwhelming 2021.

    Stuck in the dreaded relegation zone, the hosts go into the new calendar year winless in their last five La Liga games (D2, L3), scoring just three goals in that sequence.

    Sevilla’s arrival at the Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla is unlikely to offer them hope of finding the way out of a rough patch as Cadiz have won none of their last eight league H2Hs (D4, L4), drawing a blank in six.

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