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Jonathan Cordingley 29th Jan 2010 - 0:02

Saturday's La Liga previews

Espanyol v Athletic Bilbao, 17:00

Espanyol (6/5) drew with Mallorca last weekend but looked set for all three points until the Islanders were awarded what appeared to be a harsh penalty.
On loan striker Pablo Osvaldo scored on his debut in that game and might be worth a look to continue his excellent start. The Argentine with an Italian passport is priced at 5/1 to score the first goal or 11/8 to score at anytime.

Athletic (2/1) suffered from dubious refereeing last week with two goals harshly ruled out in the first half of their visit to La Coruna. Perhaps their confidence had drained away during the interval of that game; perhaps the perceived injustices affected concentration?

Whatever the reason, the second half proved to be a completely different affair to the first with Deportivo eventually running out as 3-1 winners.
Anything is possible with such inconsistency, but I would lean towards a draw (9/4) in a low scoring game.

Sporting Gijon v Barcelona, 19:00-Sky Sports 4
Sporting (19/2) suffered a surprising home defeat to in-form Racing last week, but generally have proved hard to beat in the El Molinon stadium-just ask Real Madrid who were lucky to leave with a point in October.

The Rojiblancos have struggled for goals recently and have slipped to tenth in the table. That's still an impressive position given their lack of resources, but few teams stop Barcelona (2/9) from scoring and I don't expect this game to prove any different.

As usual I'd go with Messi (11/4 to score first or 8/13 anytime) if I wanted to back a scorer and if I do bet on the outcome of this game it will be in play.

Deportivo La Coruna v Real Madrid, 21:00-Sky Sports 4
Deportivo's injury depleted squad suffered another blow when Brazilian left back Felipe broke his ankle after scoring against Athletic last week. He now faces at least six months on the sidelines and will therefore be ruled out of the World Cup.

Heartbreaking for the full back who was on the verge of making the national team and had reportedly agreed to join Real Madrid (17/20) in a move that would have given Deportivo (14/5) some much needed transfer funds.

Unless they can bring players in on loan, Depor will have to make do with what they've got, but it must be said that they have coped admirably with injuries to star players such as Riki and Guardado so don't rule them out just yet.

In fact, it's been seventeen years since Real won a La Liga match at the Riazor and having seen great- average Deportivo teams maintain this record over the years, I am going to go for the draw (12/5).

Real were far from impressive in their 2-0 defeat of William Hill Online sponsored Malaga and conceded a few early chances that a better team may have taken. Ronaldo was the only reason Los Blancos took all three points and he will miss two games after his sending off.

With number nine injured and the other attacking summer signings yet to impress in the goal stakes, I see nobody worth listing for your consideration as a scorer.



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