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Mark Young 22nd Oct 2011 - 8:42

La Liga Preview 22nd -23rd October

What a start to the season it has been in Spain. Teams have lost points when they shouldn't have done and teams have gained points when they shouldn't have done.

The biggest example is the team sitting in second place, level on points with Catalan giants Barcelona. Levante have 17 points from seven games, level with Barca and one point ahead of Real Madrid. This just doesn't happen in Spain.

After a 3-0 thrashing of big spending Malaga last weekend the little Valencia based club travel to El Madrigal to play the Yellow Submarine, Villarreal. This could yet be another game where the small club takes unexpected points off a big name.

Would it be so unexpected? Villarreal have been to England and back and lost in the last minute and are currently sitting in 14th place in the league. So on form, it is Levante's game to lose. They are 16/5 to notch another victory but I believe a draw at 11/5 could be the safer bet.

The biggest game, on paper this weekend is at Malaga. They came unstuck last week against Levante and host Real Madrid this Saturday. Real Madrid beat them 7-0 (500/1) last season but a lot has changed since then.

New, solid players like, Santi Cazorla and ex Madridista, Ruud van Nistelrooy have joined the ranks and until last week, ex-Madrid manager, Pellegrini's charges looked impressive.

This could be seen as a blip and the game could go one of two ways. At 15/2 Malaga look massive but it is just the kind of game where Mourinho will dismiss any challenge by Malaga by going out and demanding a win in a positive fashion.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been assisting more than anything over the last few games but is due a goal. At 5/2 he is the kind of player that will relish taking Malaga down a few pegs.

The man in the goals is Gonzalo Higuain after two hat tricks in two Madrid games with one for Argentina stuck in the middle. He is 11/4 to score first this weekend and 13/2 for another hat trick.

Barcelona host Sevilla later on Saturday night and again, of course are a short price at 2/11. Sevilla are not the force they were and it would be typical for ex-Sevilla player Dani Alves to score against his former club. He is 7/2 to score anytime or 10/1 to notch first. Barcelona should again take three points and stay at the top of the league.

Atletico Madrid host Real Mallorca on Sunday. Atletico are 1/ 2 to pick up the victory but have found goals hard to come by. They travelled to Udinese on Thursday evening and lost 2-0. If anyone is going to get the goals for Madrid's second team it has to be Falcao. He was quiet last weekend away at Granada and tends to float in and out of games.

He is 12/1 to get a hat trick on Sunday or 11/4 to score two or more. If Atletico start flowing like they were before the international break then Mallorca could be torn apart.

Another team that lost in Europe this week was Valencia. They travelled to Bayer Leverkusen and from 1-0 up managed to lose 2-1 and will be disappointed by this as they have only picked up two points so far in the Champions League this season.

This Sunday, they host Bielsa's Bilbao who have finally picked up a bit more form. They beat Osasuna 3-1 at San Mames on Monday but also played Thursday in the Europa League. Therefore Valencia should be snapped up at 8/11 at home at The Mestalla.

Also this week, Espanyol go to Racing and Granada go to Sporting on Saturday. Real Betis host Rayo in the early kick off on Sunday. Real Sociedad play a deflated Getafe and Zaragoza go to Osasuna. All very tight games and a couple of draws from these games could be plucked from



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