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Jonathan Cordingley 24th Jan 2011 - 16:57

Monday's La Liga preview

Athletic Bilbao v Hercules, 20:00-Sky Sports Extra (Online)

Although Bolton v Chelsea is tonight's focal point for most UK based punters, why not tune your laptop into Sky Sports Extra and watch the best two league's in the World at once? After all, if you have a Sky Sports TV subscription, you are entitled to watch Basque giants Athletic Bilbao face Barcelona conquerors Hercules in the atmospheric footballing Cathedral of San Mames for free!

I'll be watching both, and those who join me can look forward to choosing from 178 pre-match markets and betting in-play options aplenty. Sound good? Read on....

Eighth placed Athletic Bilbao (4/6) are the sort of team that generally wins most of their homes games, but also loses most of their away fixtures. Only when they are playing one of the top sides at home is it recommend to back them to lose, and even then the Basque's have a good chance of springing a surprise - as they did by holding Barca to a 1-1 draw in the Spanish cup a few weeks ago.

In their last league fixture, Athletic beat Racing Santander 2-1 in Basque country. On the scoresheet for the second time in a row was midfielder Javi Martinez (9/1 to score first, 10/3 anytime), a player who rarely scores!

Adding Bilbao's second in that game with a confidently taken top right corner finish was teenage sensation Iker Muniain (15/2 to score first, 9/4 anytime), an exciting winger who does not start every game.

Surprisingly, Athletic's best player, target man Llorente (7/2 to score first, 10/11 anytime), has not scored for two games. So far this season, the allegedly Real Madrid bound forward has scored 11 goals in 19 Primera division games and is undoubtedly the best header of the ball in top flight Spanish football.

If Llorente's move to Real Madrid does go through it won't be until the summer as the current Bilbao chairman - who finishes his term at the end of this season - will not be the man to sell Llorente, oh no! Being a proud Basque only club in terms of players, selling their best player to hated rivals Real obviously reduces Athletic's chances of qualifying for European completion and the fans would blame the man running the club.

Given that they have not paid most of their players for a few months, twelfth placed Hercules (4/1) are not a well run club! On loan Real Madrid wideman Royston Drenthe spoke out about this and threatened to strike if he was not paid. All that did was alienate him from most of the squad as they resented the fact that he could not do what they considered to be the honourable thing in such a situation, namely keeping quiet.

Alarmingly, Hercules are not the only club in La Liga that struggles to pay their players, but when they did line the playing staff's pockets with Euro's at the start of the season, the manager, Estaben Vigo, and his charges pulled of a massive shock by beating Barcelona 2-0 in the Nou Camp.

Scoring a brace to stun the world was Paraguayan forward Nelson Valdez (8/1 to score first, 11/4 anytime), who has since added another five goals to make it seven in fourteen games.

Yet to score away from Alicante is Hercules most notable player, former Juventus and France striker David Trezeguet (7/1 to score first, 2/1 anytime). Scoring nine league goals in seventeen games, the Frenchman has been fantastic for his new club and must surely score on opposition ground sooner or later.

Overall, with a record of 1 win, 3 draws and 6 defeats away from home and 5 wins, 1 draw and 3 losses at home, Hercules are clearly - like Bilbao - a team that usually wins at home and loses away.

Hercules beat Barca by stuffing the middle of the park and forcing them out wide. Bilbao have decent wide players and great headers of the ball in Llorente and Martinez. If such tactics are employed tonight, then Hercules will surely leave the cold, rainy North of Spain with nothing.

Monday night La Liga games often have lots of goals in them (over 2.5 is 10/11), but it must be taken into consideration that Hercules have not scored away from home for 592 minutes!

I am, however, willing to chance a small portion of my money on the visitors scoring in 2-1 defeat (priced at 15/2). But will put a little bit more on what seems sensible, 2-0 to Bilbao (also priced at 15/2) - Both scorelines can be complimented by Llorente scoring first at 28/1 each.

Recommendation: Bilbao (4/6)

Worth a punt to score first: Llorente (7/2)

Whatever you choose, enjoy the action and don't forget that if you don't have access to this game, you can always monitor it and bet in-play at Williamhill.com

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