Saturday's La Liga previews
Trezeguet, Drenthe and Valdez have all signed for the Alicante based club. Can these three cause an upset in the Nou Camp tonight?
I don't think so but, should he be cleared fit to play, David Trezeguet (14/1 first scorer, 11/2 anytime) is certainly capable of scoring against Barcelona.
Having won Serie A several times with Italian giants Juventus, the 32 year old former World Cup and European Championship winner decided that it was time to try another league.
Given that Trezeguet has often been linked with Barcelona over the years, it came as no surprise that he chose La Liga. But to Hercules - a name that makes most people think of Greek mythology more than football!
Surprising as David's new club choice was, the underlying factor was that his wife, Beatrice, is from Alicante. Given his age and release from the final 12 months of his contract in Italy, Trezeguet is also clearly past his prime.
Even still, Hercules (20/1) are an ambitious club who have a signed a very good striker to compliment Paraguayan World Cup star, Valdez (20/1 to score first, 7/1 anytime).
Signed on a one year loan from Real Madrid, Royston Drenthe should also prove to be another useful addition to the Hercules cause. A quick paced left sided winger/full back with plenty of strength, Drenthe is not the best decision maker with the ball at his feet, but has time on his side and the chance of a footballing rebirth in Alicante.
I recommended a 90 minute Hercules win for their game at home to Bilbao last weekend. Sadly I was wrong as Athletic won 1-0 by virtue of a trademark Llorente header - My work colleagues will be glad to hear that I won't be recommending the same this week!
Barcelona (1/16) wins this one, no question. All you should question tonight is; who will score first, can Hercules score at all and how many goals will Barca win by?
In answer to those three; probably Messi (2/1), probably not and 3-5. Given that a few of Barca's players featured in Spain's surprising 4-1 defeat to Argentina on Tuesday night and allowing for the upcoming Barcelona - Olympiacos Champions league tie, I'm inclined to say 3-0 to Barca (11/2). However, I'll be changing that In-play if it's 2-0 before half time!
Recommendation: Messi to score first and Barcelona win (21/10)
Worth a punt: small stakes on 3-0 and 4-0 (11/2 each)
Worth a pound just in case: Trezeguet anytime scorer (11/2)
Sadly viewers of Sky Sports won't get to see this one as it clashes with the Barcelona match. Naturally the Catalans attract more advertising money so fair enough you might argue.
Anyway, Racing have proved somewhat of a bogey team for Valencia in this fixture; last year saw a 0-0 draw, the year before a 4-2 win for Racing.
Racing (6/1) have lost striker Mohammed Tchite to Standard Liege- a move that does not help scorer recommendations for Racing games- and starlet Sergio Canales to Real Madrid. The latter only played a handful of games for Racing, so I would not count him as a massive loss-though his potential is outstanding.
Adrian (16/1 to score first, 6/1 anytime), formerly of Getafe, should prove to be a useful addition to the midfield but I simply don't see where the goals will come from right now.
Perhaps loan signing Marcus Rosenberg (8/1 first scorer, 11/4 anytime) will help? Until the Werder Bremen owned striker scores, I won't be chancing my money on him.
Last time out, Racing lost 3-0 at home to Barca- hardly a surprise. Valencia impressively destroyed Malaga 3-1 at La Rosaleda in their seasonal opener. Los Che looked great going forward with Aduriz (10/3 to score first, 4/5 anytime) opening the scoring with a bullet header.
The resurgent Joaquin (7/1 to score first, 2/1 anytime) scored twice to round of the Che scoring; one was deflected after he cut in, the other a great, clean strike from distance.
Helping Joaquin could be striker Roberto Soldado who has yet to make his Primera Liga bow in the colours of his hometown club.
My source tells me that Soldado is unlikely to start, but that coach Unai Emerey is expected to bring him on at some point and switch from 4-2-3-1 to 4-4-2.
I warned you off the 90 minute market in this fixture last season and, though I expect Valencia (2/5) to win, will do the same again today; the price is not worth the risk given the history between the two teams.
I will, however, plump for a couple of scorelines and suggest 2-0 (13/2) and 3-0 (9/1) to Valencia. I'll only be having small stakes on each, along with a punt on Joaquin.
Worth a punt: Valencia 2-0 Racing (13/2), Valencia 3-0 Racing (9/1) and Joaquin anytime scorer (2/1).
A spicy clash given former Real and current Osasuna (12/1) coach Jose Antonio Camacho's well known disdain for the Real Madrid hierarchy.
Camacho was also a long serving, highly rated defender for the Bernabeu club from the mid seventies to late eighties. His first stint in charge lasted only 22 days, his second a few weeks longer-Both times he fell out with the upper management, though results on the playing field were notably bad the second time round.
Given that the man in charge during his second stint, Florentino Perez, is once again at the helm, Camacho would love to beat Real tonight.
I don't see that happening and expect a narrow Real win, but I certainly would not back Los Blancos at 1/6. What I will back is Osasuna + 2 goals, available at 23/20; this bet covers the unlikely draw and a one goal Real win.
Now as Jose Mourinho said in a recent press conference "I'm not Harry Potter!" Correct and forthright he is as the team will need time to gel and adapt to his ideas.
The special one wants a target man style striker who is powerful enough to hold the ball up and will weigh in with 20 goals. Reports suggest that this could be Athletic Bilbao's Fernando Llorente once the transfer window re-opens.
For now Jose must make do with Higuain (11/4 to score first, 8/13 anytime) and Benzema. The former may be forced out wide with Ronaldo likely to miss this game, while the latter should warm the bench.
Mourinho's arrival talked me out of recommending the draw in Mallorca, instead plumping for the double result of draw/Madrid. He can make it up to me today by winning by a single goal.
Recommendation: Osasuna +2 (23/20)
The pick of this evenings live on Sky fixtures see's two teams who both won their opening games face off in a fixture that's hard to pick.
On one hand we have Basque giants Athletic Bilbao (7/4) who unexpectedly beat Hercules 1-0 in Alicante- with a player scoring that I'd learned not to back away from home - while on the other we have an Atletico (11/8) side that trounced Sporting Gijon 4-0 in the Vicente Calderon.
Like Athletic, Atletico do not usually travel well so should I go against logic this week and suggest that Los Colchoneros wins tonight? The only thing that puts me off this is the form of Fernando Llorente, the goalscorer in Alicante.
Senor Llorente (11/2 to score first, 6/4 anytime) has one for club and one for country so far this season. His goal against Hercules was a trademark header while his international goal was a well taken, controlled turn and finish.
The price keeps on going up for Bilbao's talisman, but it also rises for Sergio "Kun" Aguero who scored the fourth goal in Argentina's impressive 4-1 defeat of Spain.
Aguero (5/1 first scorer, 5/4 anytime) was also impressive in Atletico's defeat of Sporting, setting Diego Forlan up after a mazy run.
Speaking of Forlan (9/2 to score first, 6/5 anytime), the Uruguayan scored a brace in the opener and has netted in Bilbao many times before-including a hat-trick a couple of years ago. Diego is also great with either foot from distance and consequently the large pitch at San Mames will suit this trait.
I expect there to plenty of goals in this match (over 2.5 is priced at 10/11) and if I pushed to choose will go for the upset of Atletico coming out on top.
Worth a punt: anytime scorers doubled: Llorente and Forlan (11/2)
Enjoy the action and don't forget that you can bet in-play with William Hill Online.