Saturday's La Liga Previews
Atletico Madrid (7/10) have spluttered in recent games and, as a consequence, coach Quique Sanchez Flores is under fire for perceived over rotation of his squad.
Fran Merida was brought into the starting eleven with good effect in Atleti's 3-1 away defeat to Sevilla, but some of the other replacements are not up to standard.
Diego Costa (9/2 to score first, 6/5 anytime) has been up to standard in terms of scoring recently - 2 goals in his last 2 games - and could therefore represent a worthy punt to make it 3 in 3 on home ground.
At home in the Alfonso Perez before the international break were city rivals Getafe (7/2), who beat Hercules 3-0. The Azulones Daniel Parejo (8/1 to score first, 11/4 anytime) was particularly impressive, scoring one and setting another up.
In the 90 minute market, both teams have been inconsistent in all competitions for the last month or so, but Getafe have won two Primera Liga games in a row.
With Diego Forlan (7/2 to score first, 10/11 anytime) out of form and Kun Aguero a possible absentee from tonight's game due to injury, an upset seems all the more likely.
Double result bets are hard to assess, but this could be a game for small punts on longshots such as Atletico/Getafe (33/1), draw/Getafe (8/1) or even the less likely - in my eyes - Getafe/Atletico (20/1).
As I've taken a fancy to an away win, the scorelines that come to mind are 2-1 and 3-1 to Getafe (priced at 12/1 and 33/1 respectively). If any of you fancy a draw, 1-1 (priced at 7/1) is my suggestion.
I am definitely going for yes in the both teams to score market and will also take a very, very small punt on Diego Costa scoring first and Getafe eventually winning 2-1 (priced at 75/1) - along with the same first scorer and 3-1 to Michel's boys - available at a whopping 150/1!
Recommendation: Both teams to score (8/13)
Worth a punt: Getafe (7/2)
A mouth watering clash indeed, one in which logic suggests that table topping Valencia (7/1) will suffer their first league defeat of the season against a Barcelona (1/3) side that rarely has two winless games in a row.
Barca's last winless game was, of course, in their week six 1-1 draw with Michael Laudrup's Mallorca at the Nou Camp. I knew that this game was not as easy as it looked on paper and tentatively suggested that Mallorca could hold the Catalans to a draw at half time, but expected Barca to eventually win.
On viewing of this game, and despite Laudrup's tactical shrewdness, it seems apparent that Barca struggle without some of their star players. Xavi and former Valencia forward David Villa were two of the players unable to play in that match and both are expected to miss tonight's clash with Los Che through injury.
After recovering from injury to play and score in Spain's midweek defeat of Scotland, Villa must consider himself unlucky to miss out on a clash with his former club.
Of course, nothing is impossible and Villa could be risked tonight. If he is, he won't be fully fit, whatever you're told. I'll be backing him in the return fixture for sure, but not if he's wheeled out tonight.
After injuring himself on the torn to shreds, divot ridden Nou Camp pitch, Pedro will not be wheeled out tonight. In light of this and the effect it can have on Barca's passing game, the pitch has now been re-laid.
Messi is back though, and back scoring first notably. No pun intended, but he's too short for me tonight - at 3/1 to score first or 8/13 anytime - and I'm intrigued by the large prices on offer for Valencia players to score first.
Artiz Aduriz (9/1 to score first, 10/3 anytime) is one of those players and one who made his debut for Spain last weekend at the tender age of 29! I would never have imagined him playing for La Roja a year ago, but he's been fantastic for Valencia so far this season and deserves such a reward.
Soldado (10/1 to score first, 7/2 anytime) and Mata (11/1 to score first, 4/1 anytime) played well in Valencia's 2-1 home defeat of Athletic Bilbao and a special mention must go to Vicente for netting what turned out to be the winner.
Quite honestly, if Barca had not drawn their last game I'd be going for a draw (7/2) here and would bet on Valencia + 1 goal just in case Los Che were to win - which is certainly not out of the question and has happened before.
Both teams to score is a short priced recommendation at 7/10, but it's a better price than the 1/2 on offer for over 2.5 goals. Even with a new pitch, Barca should be without key players and a glut of goals is not certain.
I expect Valencia to try and force Barca wide by packing the middle of the pitch - a formula that has caused the Catalan club real problems this year. Playing wide certainly suits Valencia who, despite the injury of Joaquin, will have great wingers on show tonight. They also have a player who keeps on scoring headers in Aduriz.
If Aduriz does score first, the longshot double result bet of Valencia/Barcelona (22/1) could be a winner. If Messi was to score first, Barcelona/Barcelona (17/20) looks good.
So, Barca to drop points again or suitable justification for going against consecutive failures? If you can't choose now you can always bet in-play, I often do.
Recommendation: Both teams to score (7/10)
Worth a punt: Aduriz to score first (9/1)
Despite six goals, I still did not find watching a Real Madrid match particularly enthralling. I was, however, impressed by the excellent trio of Di Maria (7/1 to score first, 2/1 anytime), Ronaldo (5/2) to score first, 4/7 anytime) and Higuain (7/2 to score first, 10/11 anytime), but what stood out most was how hard the "stars" worked for each other as a team.
Team work and unselfish play no doubt allowed Real to score so many goals in their 6-1 demolition of hapless Deportivo, but I would not expect another six tonight.
I'd like to suggest under 2.5 goals (11/8), but think that Malaga will score and Real will eventually win (both teams to score is 7/10). Scoreline wise, this means I must be looking at minimum of 2-1 (priced at 15/2) and that would make the under 2.5 goals a losing bet.
A 3-1 to Real Scoreline also sounds like a plausible punt - priced at 10/1 - and would allow over 3.5 goals (6/4) to line your wallets with extra cash.
However, it could be said that over 3.5 goals is a very chancy bet indeed when you consider that Malaga drew this game 1-1 last season (14/1 for a repeat).
Malaga (7/1) could not get me the win I fancied in Almeria a couple of weeks ago: After Eliseu was once again sent off due to an opponent's play acting, the Anchovies took the lead through Quincy Owusu-Abeyie (10/1 to score first, 7/2 anytime) only to see Uche level matters in the 76th minute.
Suppose I can't complain that a team who played for nearly half of the match with 10 men drew away from home in a derby game, but Jesualdo Ferreira's boys can put a smile on my face just by scoring tonight.
He did not score in Almeria, but Rondon (8/1 to score first, 11/4 anytime) has done well for Malaga this season and is worth consideration in the scorers market.
In considering the double result market: I'd give Real Madrid/Real Madrid (19/20) more consideration that I usually would, but Draw/Madrid (10/3) must always be amongst your thoughts when Jose's boys are in town.
Finally, and although I've found logic in other potential scorelines earlier in the article, a 1-0 Real scoreline (priced at 17/2) would make an interesting headline in the Madrid press after the excitement of six goals in a game; just a thought though, does not mean I'm backing that scoreline.
Recommendation: Anytime wincast of Real Madrid wins and Ronaldo scores at anytime (4/5).