Saturday's La Liga previews
Senor Villa could not find the net last time out against Deportivo, but I feel that he deserves another chance against Espanyol's tightly marshaled defence. Form is always a large part of my calculations and should he fail to score, I'll consider it a temporary barren streak and lay off backing him until he adds to his twelve goal La Liga haul.
However, the Grinch must be pricing scorers in this game as David is only 4/7 to score at anytime and 5/2 to score first. Possibly enough to put me off, especially against a team who, devoid of a top class predator, will likely sit back and look for a point.
There should therefore be little opportunity for Valencia to counter attack and that has long been their style since the days of Hector Cuper at the turn of the century.
Despite some very poor results this season, I think Espanyol (13/2) are through the worst of it and given manager and former defender Mauricio Pochettino's love for Catenaccio style football, will become harder and harder to beat as the season progresses.
I expect Valencia (2/5) to win this game, but it will not be easy. Cast your minds back to when Sevilla hosted the Catalans and you will recall a match in which the home team could and should have won four or five nil. After an outstanding defensive display, Espanyol held Sevilla to a goalless draw. This could happen again in tonight's game.
As expected, Barcelona (2/7) overcame Juan Veron's Estudiantes to lift the World Club Championship trophy, but on Saturday night they face arguably more attack minded opposition when they host the Yellow Submarines of Villarreal.
Villarreal (8/1) have won three games in a row in La Liga and must now be considered a good bet for a Europa League spot and dependant largely on the form of Sevilla and Valencia, a Champions league berth.
This fixture is usually full of goals and I have some good memories of games between the two. I've seen at least two 3-3 draws in recent times, the most recent of which saw the Yellow Submarines recover from 3-1 down to stun the Nou Camp faithful with an injury time equaliser.
Villarreal striker Llorente scored that goal and now that he is back from injury, represents the Submarines best goal scoring threat. He is priced at 7/1 for the first goal and 2/1 to score at anytime.
Given the permanently short prices of Messi and Ibrahimovic as goal scorers (both 10/11 to score at anytime), I would instead look for a little more value and that comes in the form of Pedro. As a newcomer, Pedro has made a bigger impression on me than anyone else in La Liga and has a knack for scoring crucial goals at crucial times. The boy from the Canary Islands is priced at 9/2 for the first goal and 6/5 to score anytime.
This should be a cracker, enjoy!
Recommendation: Both teams to score (7/10)
You'd think I'd be bored talking about Real Madrid and Barcelona every week and often I am! The difference between those two and other teams that feature on Sky regularly is that there is at least something notable to write about in the first paragraph-a wonder goal, late equaliser, eye catching football etc.
With Atletico (13/8), nothing changes; they are simply pathetic as a defensive unit and decent going forward. The latter part depends on Aguero and Forlan and the long term futures of both lie away from this mess of a club. For the record, Aguero is 11/2 to score first and 6/4 to score at anytime. Mr Forlan is 5/1 and 5/4 in the same markets.
Last time out Sevilla lost at home to Getafe, but the Madrid based team are in very good form and you have to allow for the odd slip up.
With the Brazilian Fabiano injured, coach Manolo Jimenez must look to the yet to gel partnership of Negredo and Kanoute for goals. The former scored in the defeat to Getafe and is priced at 11/2 to score the first goal and 6/4 to score at anytime.
Interestingly, Atletico have beaten Sevilla (29/20) four times in their last six meetings at the Vicente Calderon. Times change and I am paying no attention to this and will take a Sevilla win all day long.
Recommendation: Sevilla (29/20)