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Jonathan Cordingley 8th Apr 2011 - 22:27

Saturday's La Liga previews

Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid, 17:00-Sky Sports 4

Basque giants Athletic (7/2) enjoyed a rare away win last weekend when they beat Almeria 3-1 in the Monday night offering. Scoring a goal each were Muniain and Toquero. Netting a stunning long range goal that the TV camera's nearly missed was Orbaiz.

As I expect most of you know, an injury depleted Real Madrid (3/4) shockingly lost 1-0 at home to Sporting Gijon last weekend. That defeat was Jose Mourinho's first in a home league game for nine years.

Los Blancos did beat Spurs 4-0 in the Champions League midweek but, as usual, failed to score anywhere near as many goals as they should have and were aided by Tottenham striker Peter Crouch's early dismissal.

Gonzalo Higuain is back to help with the goals, but must score before I consider backing him.

To conclude my assessment of the opening game in week 31: I'm hearing rumours that Real and Jose, having conceded the title will field a weakened team tonight. However true this may turn out to be, I just don't buy into Jose willingly conceding anything.

Whatever team Mourinho fields, Bilbao are fearsome at San Mames and can win or draw tonight. I prefer to see the line ups before betting on the 90 minute market, but for the pre-match punter I can think of a double result worth chancing:

Worth a punt: Double result of Draw/Real Madrid (15/4)


Barcelona v Almeria, 19:00-Sky Sports 4

Impressively brushing Shakhtar Donesk aside by a 5-1 scoreline in the Champions League midweek, Barcelona (1/10) must not relax when they face the potential banana skin that is bottom of the table Almeria.

After losing 3-1 at home to Bilbao on Monday night, the Almeria chairman sacked coach Ortiz and replaced him with Roberto Alabe. Obviously, Alabe has a big task on his hands saving Almeria from relegation, and what a debut playing Barcelona in his first game in charge!

If Almeria (25/1) were facing a moderate team or someone like Atletico or Valencia, I would have had no hesitation in taking a punt on the new coach getting his first win. As it is, I just can't take a punt on anything other than a Barcelona win today.

However, I will not bet on Barca in any category today as there is no value in doing so. If you have to have a pre-match punt though, Almeria will likely sit back and park the bus so perhaps you can get away with under 3.5 goals at 21/20.


Mallorca v Sevilla, 21:00-Sky Sports 4

Taking the lead through the now injured Pierre Webo, Mallorca (13/8) lost 2-1 away to Deportivo last weekend. Easily defeating Zaragoza 3-1 at the Ramon Sánchez Pizjuan on the same day, Sevilla (17/10) have Perotti, Kanoute and Negredo - all of whom scored a goal each - to thank for their victory.

In the reverse fixture earlier this season, Mallorca defeated The Rojiblancos 2-1. Based on that and the fact that the current Sevilla manger, Gregorio Manzano, used to manage Mallorca, revenge should prove to be a bitter pill for the Islanders tonight.

In other markets, before I learned that Mallorca best striker, Webo, would be missing tonight, I did fancy a "Yes" (8/11) in the both teams to score market along with over 2.5 goals (21/20) and a correct score punt of 2-1 Sevilla (9/1). Now I'm not so sure and will just bet on my main recommendation.

Recommendation: Sevilla (17/10)


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