Saturday's La Liga previews
Athletic Bilbao v Getafe, 17:00
The Basque giants did exactly as I thought they would by drawing away to Sporting last Sunday. Luckily for me, Athletic had a penalty saved.
Llorente failed to score for the second game in a row, so he's off my list. He does, in theory, offer Athletic's best hope for a goal, although Toquero impressed in his last game at San Mames.
Getafe (13/5) had been playing poorly but unexpectedly beat Mallorca 3-0 at the Alfonso Perez last Saturday.
Key to their victory was former QPR and Real Madrid starlet Daniel Parejo, who scored and ensured the Azulones did not continue their habit of giving the ball away by efficiently controlling the passing through midfield.
Like Llorente, Getafe's Soldado has not scored for a few games, but former Valencia forward Miku came off the bench to net his team's second goal against Mallorca.
The fact that Getafe manager Michel brought a forward on with thirteen minutes to go when the team was one nil up tells you everything about his mindset, and why he could be a future Real Madrid manager.
Michel's charges have not won on the road for some time and I don't see that changing today- I'm taking an Athletic win (evens).
Deportivo La Coruna v Valladolid, 17:00
As predicted, Deportivo drew in Seville last weekend, a result that leaves them in a good position to qualify for European competition.
Depor coach Lotina was recently awarded a new contract, and will expect his team to roll over 19th place Valladolid this evening.
Valladolid (9/2) can consider there selves unlucky not have taken the lead against Real Madrid last weekend and despite eventually losing 4-1, did as well as can be expected under the circumstances.
Deportivo's Guardado (13/2 first scorer, 7/4 anytime) is the only player I would look at as a possible scorer but, given that he is covering the entire left flank in Felipe's absence, the Mexican has a heavy workload and is therefore less likely to score.
I'm taking a Deportivo win (6/10)
Xerez v Tenerife, 17:00
Bottom club Xerez lost 2-0 away to Villarreal last week, but must win today to have any chance of avoiding relegation.
At home, Tenerife destroyed hapless Espanyol 4-1 last weekend with Nino (5/1 to score first, 11/8 anytime) scoring a brace.
Xerez (13/10) have only won twice at home, and Tenerife (9/5) have staggeringly have failed to win a single away game this season!
The draw (23/10) therefore seems to be the most likely outcome, but it's do or die for Xerez so I've gone for a home win on my small stakes accumulator.
Real Madrid v Sporting Gijon, 19:00-Sky Sports 4
Los Blancos put in pathetic first half an hour at Valladolid last weekend, but can take comfort from the sharp shooting of Gonzalo Higuain (11/4 to score first, 8/13 anytime).
Higuain is currently re-negotiating his contract but, amazingly, there are noises coming out of the club that say Real would consider selling him in the summer!
Despite his impressive goal haul, the Argentine is not considered a marketable enough name, or "Galactico", and baby bunting Ronaldo (5/2 to score first, 11/4 anytime) has complained that Higuain does not pass him the ball enough!
While we wait for the drama to unfold, it's worth considering that Sporting (16/1) gave Real Madrid (1/8) a tough time in the reverse fixture (0-0 draw) a few months ago.
Still, Sporting are a very different proposition on the road, and despite the lack of harmony amongst Real team mates, I can't see Sporting stopping Real from scoring.
Each to their own, but 1/8 is not a fair evaluation of the risk to Real and I would rather look at handicaps in-play.
Pre-match, handicaps of +1, 2 and 3 for Sporting are available at 5/1, 9/5 and 7/10 respectively.
In my small stakes acc I'm taking a Real win.
Espanyol v Sevilla, 21:00-Sky Sports 4
Terrible in their 4-1 away defeat to Tenerife last Sunday, Espanyol (21/10) face a daunting home game with fourth placed Sevilla (6/5) this evening.
Valdo scored on the Island, but he's hardly prolific and won't be seeing any of my money this weekend. I'd like to see Raul Tamudo playing for Espanyol once again, but it seems coach Pochettino has other ideas, leaving him on the bench last week.
As predicted, Sevilla drew at home to Deportivo last Saturday. More disappointingly, the Rojiblancos were surprisingly beaten at home by CSKA Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday evening, and hence eliminated from the competition. They still have the Copa Del Rey final to look forward to, but securing the fourth and final Champions league spot is now their priority.
I'm not convinced that they will take all three points today, as their strikers are not scoring and Espanyol are usually decent at home winning just under half of their matches in the Estadio Cornella El Prat.
On my small stakes accumulator I'm going to take a chance on the draw, but will quickly re-evaluate Sevilla in-play.
Enjoy the action and don't forget that you can bet In-Play with William Hill Online.