Saturday's La Liga Previews
As I have been pointing out for many weeks, ninth placed Deportivo (7/5) have met their seasonal objective of avoiding relegation, and consequently are playing out their remaining fixtures with little effort or care for the end result.
Last weekend they lost 1-0 away to Valencia, a game in which Depor managed only one shot on target!
A team made up of mostly youngsters should manage two or three shots at home to Zaragoza tonight, but sense tells us that you have to go against the boys from A Coruna; the double chance bet of Zaragoza or draw (2 or X) is priced at 11/20.
Relegation threatened Zaragoza could not provide a massive shock and beat Real Madrid at La Romareda last weekend, but did well to only lose 2-1 considering that they played 38 minutes with ten men. For the record, my Zaragoza +2 goals bet was a winner.
Colunga scoring was not, however, a bet that I suggested as he was only on the pitch because Chilean Humberto Suazo pulled up injured during the game.
This should be a simple away win but, despite their relegation worries, Zaragoza (17/10) spend far too much time worrying about defending when they should be more concerned with attacking.
For that reason I should not trust them away from home, even against a nothing to play for team.
However, with the theoretically nailed on bet of Zaragoza or draw being so short priced at 11/20, I'll take a chance on an away win (17/10). You better not let me down now Zaragoza!
The William Hill boys very nearly beat Mallorca on the Island last weekend, a feat that only Sevilla and Barcelona have achieved so far this season. This week the Anchovies should take all of the points when they host nothing to play for Sporting (3/1).
A nothing to play for attitude is a dangerous mindset to have when you're only five points off the drop zone and most of the teams beneath you are winning. Nevertheless, Sporting played as such last weekend, eventually losing 2-0 at home to nineteenth placed Valladolid.
Ten man Malaga deserve credit for holding Mallorca to a draw but, after going ahead through an 86th minute Victor Obinna goal, must consider their selves unlucky to watch Barralets striker Aduriz net an injury time equaliser after goalkeeper Manua comically fell over Mallorca's Keita.
It would be harsh to blame Munua, who had earlier saved a penalty, but Malaga really needed all three points and must win today or face the possibility of slipping into the relegation places.
In my opinion, the best and most likely winning bet is a 90 minute Malaga win (5/6).
Two points worse off than the team above them, eighteenth placed Tenerife must erase the disappointment of losing away to Atletico and concentrate on getting back to winning ways when they host Racing (9/4), a team who are not yet clear of relegation their selves.
Four points off the drop zone, Racing lost 2-1 at home to Villarreal last weekend, after leading through a Sergio Canales goal.
Sadly I had been told that Canales would not play in that game, so I could not anticipate his goal. Given his skilful, confident strike he could be worth consideration today
After his hat-trick in the preceding fixture, Nino could not find the net against Los Colchoneros but should get more opportunities to add to his seasonal tally on home ground.
Tenerife disappointed me in Madrid, particularly in the first half, with a listless performance against a team who had nothing to play for.
Back on the Island, I'll give Tenerife a chance to make up for last week's upset prediction and predict a home win (11/10).
Javier Clemente masterminded a 2-0 Valladolid win away to Sporting last week, but faces a tough test when Michel's Getafe (7/4) comes to town this afternoon.
Getafe passed a test their selves when coming from behind to beat Sevilla in the Alfonso Perez last weekend, and what a fantastic game it was!
After taking an early lead through Michel's son Adrian (no nepotism here, the boy is good), Getafe dominated the first half an hour, hitting the woodwork three times in the process. Amazingly, Sevilla went into the half time break 2-1 up after Fabiano and Kanoute scored counter attack goals.
A tremendously entertaining second half saw Pedro Leon, Fabiano and Manu add further goals, before Getafe were awarded an injury time penalty. Made to retake his successful penalty, Daniel Parejo slotted home to make Getafe 4-3 winners.
I would not expect such entertainment tonight as Clemente will make it very hard for Getafe; so hard that I expect Valladolid to win (7/5)
Bottom of the table Xerez could not win in the Nou Camp last weekend, but then nobody seriously expected them to. They will, however, be expected to win today's fixture at home to nothing to play for Almeria.
As is the case with so many teams, Almeria's false confidence in thinking that they are safe from relegation could come back to haunt them; after losing 1-0 at home to Espanyol last weekend, Almeria are now only four points off the drop zone.
Xerez (7/5) are seven points from safety and, despite losing, must be given plaudits for their performance in Barcelona. At times, particularly in the opening period of the second half, Xerez bossed their stunned hosts and should have taken their chances when 2-1 down.
Bermejo was responsible for squandering one clear cut chance, but was also responsible for Xerez's goal; a powerful strike into the top corner via a counter attack.
Barca eventually won 3-1, a small enough margin for my suggested bet of Xerez + 3 to yield profit; priced at 8/11 it proved to be far better value than a straight Barca win or the double result of Barca/Barca.
A handicap should not be needed tonight, so I'd suggest the straight Xerez win (7/5) for a medium stake as well as a small e/w punt on Bermejo.
Espanyol (7/4) unexpectedly gained only their second away win of the season by beating Almeria 1-0 last weekend. My favourite Garcia, Luis, scored the only goal with a stunning free kick.
That win gives Espanyol a tally of 41 points and, more than likely, secures their Primera division status for another season. Given that, how much effort should we expect from Espanyol this weekend?
Well, Espanyol are very good at home and may want to protect their ten game undefeated streak at the Cornella El Prat. However, as I write this during the half time interval of Barcelona's impending exit from the competition, I can't be sure at this point. Hopefully Espanyol fan Terry can give us a more of an idea of the team's intentions nearer the time?
If I had to choose now, and even if Espanyol don't try, I'd have to say that a draw (9/4) is the best Valencia can hope for as they simply cannot be trusted away from home.
Trust is a two way thing and Los Che lost mine a long time ago. They just about win at home, but lose nearly every game away (a complete reversal to the first half of the season). Sure, players like Villa and Silva are tired, but also inconsistent and therefore hard to recommend with any confidence at the moment.
Of course, Villa did score in Valencia's 1-0 home defeat of Deportivo last time out, though it was a penalty. Number 7 looked a shadow of himself for the rest of the game, and it's fair to say that he has done so for some time.
Silva has hit the post two games in a row and won't be getting a third chance from me today.
With Mallorca and Sevilla dropping points last week, Valencia (11/8) may consider their selves to be near guaranteed of Champions League qualification; a foolish mindset in my eyes.
Ever the honest writer, I simply cannot find anything sure enough to bet on pre-match and will instead recommend betting in-play.
After Champions league elimination, Barcelona must now concentrate on winning La Liga. Tonight they visit El Madrigal to play a Villarreal team who, at home, has won six games in a row.
A tough task indeed for Barca as The Yellow Submarines have European ambitions and currently own the fourth best home record in La Liga with 13 wins so far.
Villarreal (9/2) came from behind to beat Racing 2-1 last weekend, with goals from Godin and Nilmar. As I pointed out last week, defender Godin (40/1 to score first, 16/1 anytime) had developed a knack of scoring the first goal in each of his last two matches prior to the tie with Racing.
In the tie with Racing, I got greedy and had a few quid on him as first scorer. Naturally he scored second and I had not chosen e/w! Godin to score for the fourth time in a row is a massive longshot, but bear in mind that Villarreal's strikers are not adapting to the 4-3-3 formation now used at the club, and consequently most of their goals are coming from set pieces.
A nervous, weakened Barcelona stumbled past impressive Xerez last weekend, with Henry (5/1 to score first, 5/4 anytime) and Ibrahimovic (4/1 to score first, evens anytime) amongst the scorers. Neither is consistent enough to see my money, nor is Messi. Considering that the Argentine has not hit the back of the net for several weeks, the short prices (11/4 to score first, 8/13 anytime) clearly do not represent the risk.
With Barcelona's squad tired and dejected after their midweek game with Inter, many people will fancy Villarreal to beat the Catalans tonight. I'm not, however, one of them as Villarreal have developed a bad habit of trying to pass their way out of defence, something Barcelona will punish.
Although I fancy an away win, it won't be easy for the Catalans who could collapse mentally after recent disappointments. The 90 minute price on Barca (1/2) is simply not worth the risk in my eyes; I would strongly suggest you bet in-play and wait for a better price instead.
My most likely winner pre-match is "yes" in the both teams to score market, available at 8/13. In search of a little value, and considering the big price, I will also have punt on Godin to score at anytime (16/1).