Saturday's Spanish La Liga preview
Mallorca v Valencia, 17:00
It's been a while since they did so, but Mallorca (13/8) pulled off another shock away win when coming from behind to beat Espanyol 2-1 in Barcelona midweek.
After missing an early penalty and going a goal down their selves only minutes later, Mallorca fought tirelessly and got their just rewards when Webo and Nsue each scored to seal an improbable win.
Third placed Valencia (13/8) also put in an impressive midweek performance and can consider their selves very unlucky to have lost 1-0 at home to Barcelona.
Without taking credit away from Lo Che, Messi, Villa and co were not at their best, and at one point (around 70 mins) I was seriously considering betting on a Valencia win. Still, I made a promise to myself not to bet on anything other than a Villa goal (I felt I had to cover that one) and stuck to my guns.
Goals rather than guns could just as easily be over 2.5 (evens) as they could under (8/11) in tonight's match, but I do fancy a "Yes" (8/11) in the both teams to score market and consider that the safest recommendation I can make to you.
Much less safe is picking the 90 minute outcome: On paper Mallorca should win, but how many times have Valencia won at grounds they were not supposed to? After working my normal job all day I'm too tired to check, but last Sunday's 2-1 win in Bilbao is evidence and enough to put me off betting on a Mallorca win.
However, it must be said that few team's win on the island and - mentally if nothing else - the players of Valencia will likely prioritise their upcoming Champions League tie with Schalke.
Of course, you could bet on a draw (9/4), but I prefer my both teams to score bet.
As well as both teams to score, I'm betting on 2-1 scorelines to either side. Contradictory, yes, but if you can't decide why not take both for small stakes?
Should you want to mirror my correct score punts, Mallorca 2-1 is priced at 9/1, with Valencia winning by the same score available at 17/2.
Recommendation: Both teams to score (8/11)
Barcelona v Real Zaragoza, 19:00-Sky Sports 4
After a disappointing 1-1 draw at Sporting and a shocking 2-1 defeat at Arsenal, Barcelona (1/10) have reverted to winning ways. Last weekend they beat Mallorca 3-0, midweek they overcame Valencia by a 1-0 scoreline. Both games were away from home and neither were easy fixtures.
Scoring a goal each in the defeat of Mallorca were Messi, Villa (5/2 to score first, 4/7 anytime) and Pedro (3/1 to score first, 8/11 anytime).
Pedro did not start in Barca's fortunate 1-0 win at Valencia midweek, but Messi (7/4 to score first, 4/11 anytime) did and spurned several chances before scoring the winner with a tap in.
Most annoyingly - given that I had backed Villa to score anytime against his old club Valencia, Barca's creative team seemed obsessed with feeding the confidence drained Messi. With hindsight I suppose they have to get the world's best player back into top (prolific) goalscoring form with Arsenal coming up.
Given their must win situation against Wenger's boys in the Champions league on Tuesday, you'd have to expect Barcelona to rest a few key players against Zaragoza tonight.
Then again, Pep Guardiola could opt to start his regulars and instruct them to try and put the game beyond doubt by half time so he can rest for them in the second half.
However Pep plays it, expect Zaragoza to defend deep with two lines of five when Barca attack. It won't be pretty, but it is totally understandable.
Easily understood by shrewd punters in-play was judging that Zaragoza (20/1) could come back from a goal down to beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 at La Romareda midweek.
Such a situation is highly unlikely to re-occur tonight, but if anybody is to score for Zaragoza it will probably be the player who scored the winner against Bilbao, Uche (20/1 to score first, 7/1 anytime).
An Uche bet is not for me. But with such short prices on offer for anything to do with Barca winning, it's worth considering if you want an unlikely longshot.
I'm not going for a longshot in this game; I prefer to see the starting eleven before betting on a variety of markets in-play. However, if you do want a pre-match bet and are prepared to chance it that Barca will field a very weak team, my recommendation is beneath.
Recommendation: Under 3.5 goals (10/11)
Atletico Madrid v Villarreal, 21:00-Sky Sports 4
After losing 2-1 at home to Valencia, the hard to predict Atletico (6/5) have drawn their last two games. At home to Sevilla it was 2-2, away to Getafe 1-1.
Reyes was amongst the scorers against his hometown club Sevilla, while Elias scored Los Colchoneros equaliser against Getafe.
Forlan did set Elias's goal up and Aguero scored a couple of weeks ago, but neither of the world class tandem are anywhere near their best and as such will not be backed by your writer.
As sod's law or the commentator's curse depicts, either or both of the above could score today, so the choice is yours.
Much to my irritation (I had bet on Racing), Villarreal (9/4) chose to equalise against Racing during injury time of their clash in Santander last weekend. With the goal that cost me a score was Nilmar.
With the goal that gave Villarreal a 1-0 win at home to Hercules on Wednesday night was Giuseppi Rossi, who coolly slotted the ball past the Hercules keeper when one on one.
For the sake of the not on top form Subs - who really should be beating a travel shy opponent like Hercules by more than one goal - I hope Nilmar and Rossi can get back to scoring consistently. Villarreal's quest for third place depends on those two, however impressive playmaker Valero has been.
Not impressive was Atletico failing to score when these two teams met in the reverse fixture earlier this season. I say that because this normally nailed on bet was my recommendation for that game, and I was genuinely stunned not to get it right.
On principle I won't back the "Yes" (4/6) option in the both teams to score market, but you should make your own decision.
In conclusion, Villarreal are the better team and I wouldn't trust Atletico at home to anybody right now. However, I opt to proceed with caution and take the draw (9/4) into consideration.
Recommendation: Villarreal, draw no bet (6/4)
As ever, enjoy the action and don't forget that you can always make adjustments and bet in-play at Williamhill.com