Saturday's La Liga previews
Espanyol found the key, Inter opened the door. Can lowly Xerez walk on through the Nou Camp and add to Barca's recent troubles?
Well, the extremely short priced Barcelona (1/12) are no doubt physically and mentally tired after their much publicised draw with city rivals Espanyol-along with the defeat to Inter Milan-but cannot afford to drop points in La Liga and are expected to make easy work of bottom club Xerez.
Xerez (20/1) drew 2-2 at home to Racing last week, a result that suited neither team. For once Bermejo was not amongst the scorers but, in the lone striker role tonight, could be worth a punt considering the prices on offer (14/1 for him to score first, 11/2 anytime).
The Cadiz side will look to do what Espanyol did tactically, playing on the counter attack where possible. If Xerez are to score, it's highly likely that Barca will too so anyone with that mindset will be interested in the 13/10 on offer for both teams to score.
Of course, Pep Guardiola could rest several players ahead of the Champions League tie with Inter and, under those circumstances, I do not fancy the four or five nil win that people expect that Catalans to get tonight.
With regards to Inter's visit to Barcelona midweek, I'd like to suggest that the well watered, slicker, larger pitch will work to the home teams advantage, resulting in a 90 minute win at the very least. Mourinho will park the bus, and it could be the special one's year, but Barcelona progressing to the final is at least 50/50 in my eyes.
Back to tonight's game, where it must be said that there is no value to backing anything to do with Barca and, quite frankly, I'd rather waste a pound or two in the hope of an upset on a par with James Buster Douglas's knock out of Mike Tyson many years ago.
If I had to choose something pre-match, I'd take Xerez +3 goals (8/11). Betting In-Play is an option that should also be considered.
After their convincing 2-0 defeat of Valencia last weekend, Los Blancos travel to relegation threatened Zaragoza to play a team who often raise their game when facing the big boys at home.
Alright, they have been poor away from home recently, but third placed Valencia lost 3-0 in Zaragoza and Barcelona would probably not have left La Romareda with all three points if not for the genius of Lionel Messi.
The bad news is that Zaragoza (17/2) have not beaten Real Madrid (1/4) in their last twelve league meetings. The teams have, however, drawn their last two fixtures in Zaragoza; that result is priced at 17/4 today.
Anyone prepared to take a big chance on a long shot wincast might be interested to know that Humberto Suazo to score first and Zaragoza to win is priced at a massive 28/1.
The Chilean has not netted in recent games but should have a greater chance of scoring if his teammates raise their game offensively this evening. Humberto is 10/1 to score first or 7/2 anytime.
Former Real Madrid right back Diogo raised his game in the pre-mentioned defeat of Valencia, capping off his performance with a fine goal. For anyone considering another long shot, the Uruguayan is 33/1 to score first or 12/1 anytime.
Zaragoza barely managed a shot in their impressive 0-0 draw in Bilbao last weekend, but gained a valuable point from a team who give little away at home. La Romareda must, however, see a home victory tonight if Zaragoza are to distance their selves from the bottom three.
Real Madrid also need to win, and anyone interested in their likely scorers will probably look to usual suspects Ronaldo (9/4 to score first, 1/2 anytime) and Higuain (11/4 to score first, 8/13 anytime) to aid Los Blancos in their quest for victory.
Those two are too short priced for me, so I'd instead suggest consideration of the in-form Van Der Vaart (11/2 to score first, 6/4 anytime) if you want to back a Real player. The Dutchman has scored vital goals recently, doing an excellent job in the attacking midfield position.
In conclusion, I considered the upset before I saw the prices but decided for sure where I'm prepared to risk my money when the 1/4 price was revealed for Real Madrid.
There's no value or enjoyment in that for your writer so I'm going to put a small stake on a Zaragoza win (17/2), with a medium stake bet of Zaragoza +2 goals (5/6) to cover a one goal Madrid win.
After a 2-0 defeat in the Bernabeu last weekend, third placed Valencia (4/11) have a great opportunity to get back to winning ways when they host disinterested, table sliding Deportivo (13/2) at the Mestalla this evening.
Disinterested might seem a little harsh as Deportivo have managed to draw a few games recently, but since the club and its players decided that their seasonal objective had been met by avoiding relegation, they have not won since early March and have slid from fifth to eleventh in the Primera division standings. Given Valencia's impressive home form, this should mean certain defeat for the boys from A Coruna.
A few years ago, Los Che would have stood a good chance of winning in the Bernabeu. Nowadays current coach Unai Emery has a less talented backline than that of predecessors Rafa Benitez and Hector Cuper, and cannot therefore be expected to stop the firepower Real possess.
The forward line of Valencia is as good as any I have seen in seventeen years of watching Los Che, but is currently misfiring, particularly away from home. As talented as players like Mata and Pablo might be, much more is expected of top scorer David Villa.
As I reported months ago, Valencia's frustrated number seven has developed a tendency to either drift out wide, or fall back into an attacking midfield slot in his attempts to get the ball and create something for himself.
This tactic was understandable when the creative team was missing, but given the full complement of attackers that Los Che can currently choose from, is somewhat bemusing.
Perhaps he is acting on the orders of Emery, but then again, who does listen to a coach whose contract will not be renewed at the end of the season! Certainly not Banega or Dominguez, both of whom voiced their displeasure at being substituted a couple of weeks ago.
Villa's chief creator David Silva (11/2 to score first, 6/4 anytime) did not pay as an anytime scorer in Madrid, but hit the woodwork with a nice shot and deserves consideration today. He did, after all, score both goals in Valencia's last home game; a two nil defeat of Athletic Bilbao.
Valencia appear to play from memory at home, a tactic that has seen them win eight out of their last nine Primera division games at the Mestalla. Impressively, the last five of those contained clean sheets (only Valencia to score is 29/20).
Tired, injured or just out of form, Villa could still win and convert a penalty, but I won't be backing him this week. Instead I am betting on Valencia -1 goal (6/5).
Enjoy the action and don't forget that you can bet In-Play with William Hill Online.