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Jonathan Cordingley 1st Apr 2011 - 8:40

Saturday's La Liga preview

Real Madrid v Sporting Gijon, 17:00-Sky Sports 4

In their last fixture two weeks ago, Real Madrid (1/7) easily beat city neighbours Atletico 2-1 at the Vicente Calderon. Scoring a goal each for Los Blancos were Benzema and Ozil. In the international fixtures that followed, Benzema picked up an injury while playing for France and will sadly not be playing for Real tonight.

Also highly unlikely to play for Jose in the first of this weekend's Primera division fixtures are Ronaldo, Marcelo, Pepe and Xavi Alonso. Some list it's fair to say, but enough absentees to allow tonight's opponents, Sporting Gijon (14/1), to get a point or more from their trip to the Bernabeu?

If the game was in Gijon, yes, but in Madrid, I don't think so. All that should be affected tonight is the goal count.

Recommendation: Under 2.5 goals (7/4)

Worth a punt: Correct score bets of 1 and 2-0 to Real - priced at 8/1 and 6/1 respectively.

Getafe v Valencia, 19:00-Sky Sports 4

Hard to predict Getafe (15/8) played well in their 2-1 away defeat to Barcelona two weeks ago and will expect to beat Valencia (29/20) tonight.

Considering how good Valencia have been away from home this season while factoring in that Getafe tend to lose when punters fancy them to win, you can sensibly argue that the expectations of the Azulones are simply too lofty.

However, since their Champions League elimination at the hands of Schalke, Los Che have lost two league games in a row and look totally devoid of confidence. Based on that, I'll take a chance on Getafe meeting their expectations.

Recommendation: Getafe (15/8)

Villarreal v Barcelona, 21:00-Sky Sports 4

Against my expectations, through a well placed Marco Ruben header, Villarreal won 1-0 away to Athletic Bilbao last time out. Meeting my hopeful expectations of giving Getafe a 2 goal start, Barcelona obliged by beating their Madrid based opponents 2-1 at the Nou Camp.

One winner, one loser from those two then, but what are we expect when they meet tonight? Well, in the remaining fixtures, bar away at Real Madrid, a trip to Villarreal (15/4) offers the biggest banana skin Barca (4/6) can tread on and the yellow submarines have taken points of the Catalans many times in the past.

Recently, it's fair to say that Barcelona have not been at their imperious best and Messi, after missing Argentina's stalemate draw with Costa Rica midweek through injury, may not play tonight. The absence of the World's best player makes a big difference when Pep's team are not hitting top gear, no question.

Considerer also that although Villarreal have a few players returning from international duty their selves, Barca have more and when the Catalans have unexpectedly dropped points, it often comes in league games following international fixtures.

Villarreal's strike force of Nilmar (8/1 to score first, 11/4 anytime) and Rossi (15/2 and 9/4) are international players and I expect one of the two to bag a goal tonight. Rather than stressing over which one to pick, I'm simply backing both as e/w first scorers!

I certainly expect Barca to score but avoid their players due to the short prices. Short priced but nonetheless seemingly nailed on is the "Yes" option in the both teams to score market at 6/10.

In conclusion, everything points to Barca slipping up tonight. The only thing that puts me off this happening is that the reigning champions dropped points away to Sevilla a few weeks ago and I fear that they are unlikely to do so two times in three games.

The 4/6 about Barca is consequently very tempting but, overall, I prefer to bet on the both teams to score market pre-match and bet in-play on the 90 minute market.

Recommendation: Both teams to score: "Yes" (6/10)

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