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Jonathan Cordingley 11th Feb 2011 - 16:07

Saturday's La Liga previews

Atletico Madrid v Valencia, 17:00

The biggest surprise of Atletico's (23/20) defeat to Barcelona at the weekend was not that it was only 3-0 to the Catalans - it was that Diego Forlan was only a substitute.

Though Forlan (5/1 to score first, 5/4 anytime) had not been playing well recently, Atleti coach Quique Sanchez Flores was expected to start the Uruguayan up front along with Kun Aguero.

Aguero (also 5/1 to score first, 5/4 anytime) played well, but Forlan played better once brought off the bench. For sure, Los Colchoneros were a better team with Diego on the pitch.

At home today, under fire coach Quique will likely start with both of his World class strikers. If he doesn't and Valencia win, expect someone else to be the Atleti coach next week (Rafa Benitez anyone?).

Valencia (12/5) easily beat travel shy Hercules 2-0 at the Mestalla last weekend. On the scoresheet for Los Che was striker Aduriz (13/2 to score first, 15/8 anytime) and talented midfielder Tino Costa.

With his cultured left foot, Costa (12/1 to score first, 5/1 anytime) has been very impressive recently and is fast becoming one of the best midfielders in the Primera Division.

Third placed Valencia are obviously one of the best teams in the league and I am not considering anything other than a Che win at crisis club Atleti tonight.

Normally this game is a banker for both teams to score (4/6) and over 2.5 goals (4/5), but Atleti are on such a bad run of form that I'm not even convinced that they'll score today. Nor, to be brutally honest, am I convinced that Valencia will score more than two goals (2-0 to Los Che is 18/1).

Recommendation: Valencia (12/5)

Worth a punt: Double result of Valencia/Valencia (5/1)

Sporting Gijon v Barcelona, 19:00-Sky Sports 4

Three successive wins could not be turned into four when Sporting (14/1) visited Bilbao last weekend, but then nobody expected them to win there.

I did, however, expect Sporting to score with talisman Diego Castro (16/1 to score first, 6/1 anytime) in red hot form, but sadly he couldn't net one.

Overall, Sporting's chances of anything other than a defeat to nil were reduced to extremely slim when they were reduced to ten men in the early stages of the game.

With eleven men, Sporting's chances are again slim to nothing with Barcelona (2/11) in town tonight, but maybe, just maybe Diego Castro can bag a goal and give us all a winning bet that is not odds on.

Quite frankly, what else can I recommend to you when Barca play weak opposition? It could be 3-0, 4-0, 4-1 anything. Messi (2/1 to score first, 2/5 anytime), Villa (3/1 to score first, 8/11 anytime) or Pedro (11/4 to score first, 8/13 anytime) to score first?

Who knows is the answer to the above, but maybe you could chance Messi scoring another hat-trick as he did in the Catalans 3-0 home defeat of Atletico Madrid last weekend. However, even that offers low reward price wise at 8/1.

Ever the honest writer, I just watch Barcelona, I don't bet on them. If you want a pre-match Barca bet, Gijon will not make it easy for their illustrious opponents, so it might be worth chancing a double result bet of Draw/Barca at 19/5.

Worth a punt: Diego Castro, e/w first scorer (16/1)

Racing Santander v Sevilla, 21:00-Sky Sports 4

After drawing 1-1 away to Zaragoza last weekend, Racing's new Indian owner, Ahsan Ali Syed, decided to fire coach Miguel Angel Portugal.

Anyone with a modicum of intellect would not have expected Racing (21/10) to do anything other than lose away from home, so the new owner's decision to fire Portugal was clearly something that was going to happen whatever the result in Zaragoza.

Once considered one of the brightest young coaches in the game, former Racing and Zaragoza boss Marcelino takes the reins in Santander for a second time.

Marcelino is still a good coaching prospect, make no mistake, but the smart money says that he'll be used to steady the ship before a more established name is brought in and given a free reign with the owners chequebook.

For now Marcelino must mark his second coming with a defeat of Sevilla (13/10). Last weekend, The Rojiblancos drew 0-0 at home to Malaga.

Manzano's Sevilla had a few chances against The Anchovies, but none of lone striker Fabiano (9/2 to score first, 6/5 anytime) or substitutes Negredo (11/2 to score first, 6/4 anytime) and Kanoute (6/1 to score first, 7/4 anytime) could make a dent on the opposition goal.

One of the three mentioned above will likely convert a chance tonight, but with Sevilla so topsy-turvy results wise, I'm only interested in taking a chance on the match outcome.

New coach wins his first game? I hope so.

Recommendation: Racing (21/10)

Whatever you choose, enjoy the action and don't forget that you can always bet in-play and make adjustments at Williamhill.com

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