The golden age of Cristiano Ronaldo duking it out with Lionel Messi in Spain’s La Liga (sometimes known as the Primera Division) might be over, but it’s still a terrific league to bet on and we have predictions for you every single game weekend.
Real Sociedad v Barcelona (Sunday 21 August, 1600 EDT)
Barcelona’s crazy transfer summer is still ongoing but in the meantime there’s some matches to be played, and it’s not been the smoothest of starts.
Despite having Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha in attack, they could only muster a tame 0-0 draw at home to a Rayo side they also failed to beat last season.
There’s definite upheaval in Xavi’s starting XI and it’s clear the balance is nowhere near right yet. And Real Sociedad are one of the more dependable sides in La Liga, and also one of the few who have strengthened, with the arrivals of Brais Mendez from Celta and Take Kubo on loan from Real Madrid.
With Alexander Isak still in tow, they have the attacking capacity to cause Barca problems but also are strong enough to keep them out defensively.
We’d expect this to be another tight contest and we’d side against goals.
Under 2.5 Goals (+114, Fanduel)
Real Sociedad – Barcelona to tie the match (+265, Unibet)
Free & Expert Predictions
Just a reminder folks that we do not charge you anything for our La Liga analysis and advice. We spend serious time putting our predictions together, but the aim is for you to win and beat those online sportsbooks. We don’t like the alternative…
When is La Liga played?
The La Liga season normally gets under way in August and runs through to the following May. There are 20 clubs in the league and they all play each other twice – at home and away. So 38 games total for each team.
The games are normally spread out over a weekend for TV purposes, with the bulk of games being played on Saturdays and Sundays. There are early kickoffs both days (before breakfast for even the most intrepid U.S.-based fans) and pretty late games which are late afternoon in the U.S.
How to watch La Liga on TV
The ‘Worldwide Leader’ has the rights to broadcast La Liga in the U.S. through to 2029 – the definition of a long-term deal!
All games are available via live stream on the subscription ESPN+ platform, with. a small number of games available on linear ESPN too. The story is the same for Spanish-language viewers – again it’s ESPN+ for them.
How does La Liga work?
Like we said earlier, each team in Spain’s La Liga plays a total of 38 games in each season. In every game there are three points for a win, a point each for both teams in a draw/tie and nothing for a loss.
The top team of course wins the La Liga title, while the top four teams go through into the following season’s Champions League. The fifth team gets a Europa League slot for the following season.
Like other soccer leagues (and unlike U.S. pro sports) there is relegation from La Liga. The bottom three teams each season drop into the Segunda Division (also known as La Liga 2) – to be replaced by the top three teams from that division.
El Clasico – the biggest game of all
The biggest games of any La Liga season, and for sure the biggest for soccer betting, are when Real Madrid and Barcelona lock horns. The game is so special it even has its own name – El Clasico.
Real and Barca meet twice each season in the league at their famous homes – the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid and Camp Nou in Barcelona.
Like we said, a golden decade where this rivalry had the world’s two greatest players in it – Cristiano Ronaldo for Madrid and Lionel Messi for Barcelona – is now over. But the game is still something the world of soccer stops for.
The rivalry (call it hatred if you will, it is that raw) is still intense and it is a game any true soccer fan should tune in for.
La Liga Winners
The picture in Spain is not quite as bad as Germany, Italy and France – where Bayern Munich, Juventus and PSG have dominated the local leagues in recent seasons.
There are three teams in recent years who went into each season with a shot at winning the title – Real Madrid and Barcelona, along with Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid (champion in 2014 and 2021).
Right now that is probably in reality just two – with Barcelona imploding after disastrous financial issues and the departure of the iconic Messi to PSG.
The last 10 winners of La Liga are as follows:
- 2020-21: Atletico Madrid
- 2019-20: Real Madrid
- 2018-19: Barcelona
- 2017-18: Barcelona
- 2016-17: Real Madrid
- 2015-16: Barcelona
- 2014-15: Barcelona
- 2013-14: Atletico Madrid
- 2012-13: Barcelona
- 2011-12: Real Madrid
Money Line Betting
Often this will be our bet of choice. Why you ask? It’s the simplest soccer bet of all, you are betting just on the result of the game – nothing else. So one of the two teams to win, or a Draw. How much you win depends on the odds of course.
For more details on how to bet on soccer, check out our simple guide.
A really popular bet market, and one we’ll look to capitalize on regularly on this page.
Here you are betting on how many goals will be scored. Not an exact guess – just more or less than the relevant betting line. The same as Over/Under on total points in the NFL for example.
For example if Real Madrid is playing Real Sociedad, if you go over a 2.5 line and the final score is 2-1 to Madrid – you win.
Sportsbooks offer multiple lines, all with different odds. So the further you go away from what they expect – the bigger the odds.
Really popular betting lines are around who scores the goals. Basically it can give you an interest right through the game.
You can bet in a number of ways here:
- First Goalscorer: Like it says on the tin, you are betting on a player. to score the first goal in the game.
- Last Goalscorer: Again, self-explanatory. Your pick scores the last goal – you win.
- Anytime Goalscorer: Worse odds, but interest all the way. Your pick just has to score at any time in the game.
You can also bet certain players (normally the forwards like Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema or Barca’s Sergio Aguero) to score multiple goals. So potentially bet on the to score 2, 3 or more. Obviously you’ll get better odds the higher you go.
This is like betting against the spread in American pro sports. The sportsbooks will give one of the teams a start based on how they think the game will finish up. As with over/under goals, you decide which side to pick.
Also known as ‘Asian Handicap’ betting, again you will get different options for each game. For example if Barcelona is playing Atletico Madrid you might be able to bet Atleti -1.75 goals. In this scenario Atleti needs to win by 2 clear goals for you to collect.
La Liga Props
There are ton of props (proposition bets) available for most La Liga games – basically looking at anything bar the result of the game. A great way to make sure you have a betting interest right throughout a game.
There is nothing like going crazy when a player has his third shot on target, or completes his 58th pass. Wild…
This is where you place long-term bets – so you can bet on who wins the La Liga title at the start of the season. And some sportsbooks will have a handicap system, giving other teams a start against Real Madrid for example.
The Top Scorer market is another red-hot betting proposition – especially with the likes of Benzema, Aguero and Atletico forward Luis Suarez all playing in La Liga right now.