Saturday's Round Nine La Liga Betting Previews
Real Madrid v Malaga, 15:00
A little like their last away game, Real Madrid (1/5) had to rely on a late goal to record victory against Levante in round eight. Indeed, Los Blancos twice came from behind and were losing 2-1 before Morata and Ronaldo's injury time strike's made it 3-2. All in all, not a good performance from a Madrid side that appears to have no real playing identity or style, but - once again - they got the job done.
Surprisingly, Malaga (12/1) lost their round eight match at home to struggling Osasuna. The Anchovies had enough chances to win, but it just wasn't their day and Osasuna deserved to take all three points.
In conclusion, every team that has visited the Bernabeu for a league game has scored in 2013/14, and Malaga have netted against Real in their last three matches. We must factor in potential tiredness from international duty, but Real should still be able to beat Malaga 2 or 3-1, so both teams to score and Real Madrid to win seems like the best bet.
Recommendation: Both teams to score and Real Madrid to win (5/4)
Valencia v Real Sociedad, 17:00
With Ever Banega (9/1 to score first, 10/3 anytime) scoring their only goal from the penalty spot, Valencia (4/5) drew 1-1 away to Athletic Bilbao in round eight. Overall, Los Che played well in the first half but faded in the second. Considering that they played in Russia midweek and took the first point from Athletic at their new stadium, a draw was a very good result for Djukic' Valencia.
Real Sociedad (7/2), who'd played in the UEFA Champions League only days before, lost their round eight La Liga fixture 1-0 to Rayo in Madrid. La Real had a few chances, but it was a fair result overall.
In conclusion, as Valencia have won four out of their last five games and Real Sociedad have not recorded victory since defeating Lyon in August, a home win has to be my pick here. I'd expect a few goals, but Xavi Prieto misses out for the Basque's and that's always a blow to their creative juices and chances of scoring.
Recommendation: Valencia (4/5)
Osasuna v Barcelona, 19:00
Fully deserving of the three points that come with victory, Osasuna (9/1) recorded their first win in three games by beating Malaga 1-0 at La Rosaleda in round eight. Oriol Riera (14/1 to score first, 11/2 anytime) netted the only goal of the game.
A Barcelona (1/4) without Messi conceded the first goal to Valladolid at Camp Nou last weekend, but recovered to comfortably win 4-1. Alexis (2), Xavi and Neymar (5/2 to score first, 1/2 anytime) were the Catalan's scorers.
In conclusion, even if the listed as doubtful to play Messi doesn't take part in the game, Barca will still probably win - and I must point out that Osasuna have been poor at home in 2013/14, losing three out of their last four in Pamplona - but this is a special kind of fixture in front of a partisan crowd and I expect Osasuna to at least be able score before losing 2 or maybe 3-1.
Statistically, five out of the last six head to head clashes between Osasuna and Barcelona have seen both teams score and, factoring in that some of Barca's players will be tired from traveling the globe due to International duty, I'm willing to give BTTS a shot here.
Recommendation: Both teams to score (10/11)
Espanyol v Atletico Madrid, 21:00
Espanyol (19/5) lost for the third time in a row after a 2-1 defeat at Elche in round eight. Thievy Bifouma (11/1 to score first, 4/1 anytime) scored their consolation goal. All in all, the reality is that the Catalans aren't defending well right now and don't score enough goals to stop the other team from winning - simples!
With Diego Costa (3/1 to score first, 8/11 anytime) missing a penalty but later netting a brace, Atletico Madrid (4/5) beat Celta Vigo 2-1 at the Vicente Calderon in round eight.
In conclusion, Espanyol have lost three games on the bounce, while Atletico - in all competitions - have won every game they've played in 2013/14. We should consider that Miranda (defender) and Villa are both likely to miss out for Los Colchoneros, but Diego Costa didn't play international football during the international break and Atletico - as they did last season - should still be able to win. Also, the Espanyol's best player, Sergio Garcia, is listed as injured and unavailable for selection.
Recommendation: Atletico Madrid (4/5)