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Jonathan Cordingley 4th Feb 2010 - 22:59

Saturday's Spanish La Liga previews

Valencia v Valladolid, 17:00

Valencia (3/10) coach Unai Emerey is under pressure after his perceived negative tactics against Sevilla brought staunch criticism from the chairman and directors of Los Che.

The men in suits were unhappy that Unai chose the defensive minded pairing of Albelda and Marchena in central midfield (consequently leaving the silky skills of Ever Banega on the bench) while clearly playing for a draw in game in which a win would have put Valencia nine points clear of their closest rivals in the hunt for third place and automatic Champions League qualification.

Valencia can at least take something positive and possibly crucial from this game in that Navarro's late consolation gives Los Che the edge in their head to head record with Sevilla.

Given that head to head records count above goal difference in Spain, that strike could be worth millions come the end of the season, millions that Valencia badly need.

Valencia have been poor recently and I have been unable to find out why Villa (11/4 to score first or 4/5 to score at anytime) keeps drifting out wide to get the ball when Los Che have all of their wide players available for selection.

As I wrote last week, Valladolid (15/2) seemed poised to sack their coach if the team lost to Almeria. Lose they did not, but a draw was not enough to save Mendilibar's job as he was fired not long after the match finished.

His replacement Onésimo Sánchez (was B team boss) has a tough job on his hands and will probably play for a draw (19/5) at the Mestalla. New managers often get something in their first game, so you never know...



Barcelona v Getafe, 19:00-Sky Sports 3

It was nice to see Pedro on the score sheet in Barcelona's (1/7) 1-0 win away to Sporting last week and should you fancy him to find the back of the net against Getafe (12/1), he is priced at 9/2 to get the first goal or 6/5 to score at anytime.

Messi (11/4 first goal or 8/13 anytime) has a history of scoring against Getafe, not least his Maradona like effort in the Copa Del Rey a few years ago, and is therefore worth your consideration.

One thing I've noticed recently is that Barca seem to take at least twenty minutes to score, whoever the opposition might be. With that in mind, those looking for a slightly better price might prefer to bet in running.

Getafe are a decent team that tries to play a style similar to their hosts this evening. Obviously they don't do it as well as Barca, but they've beaten them before (most notably the reverse fixture to the game in which Messi scored his wonder goal) and under normal circumstances a draw (6/1) would not be out of the question.

Lack of normal circumstances is however just the problem as Getafe played and lost to Sevilla in the cup in midweek. Getafe have been Copa Del Rey runners up on two occasions in recent years and success in that competition is without doubt their priority.

Many of the same players that featured against Sevilla will likely take to the field at the Nou Camp so you have to wonder what they'll have left after their midweek cup excursions.

Soldado is their talisman, but is going through a barren spell at the moment. Should you fancy his look to change on the biggest of stages, he is a massive 12/1 to score first or a generous 5/1 to score at anytime.

It has to be said that Getafe have not scored for a few weeks in La Liga, so only Barcelona to score (3/4) might be of interest to those looking for something that seems likely on paper.



Real Madrid v Espanyol, 21:00-Sky Sports 3

Real (1/6) were unexpectedly excellent against Deportivo last weekend and two things stood out for post match examination:

1). Real had been very poor in recent away games, so how much of their performance in La Coruna was down to the fact that Depor stood off and sat back allowing Real to take the initiative?

2). Madrid actually looked like a TEAM in this game, much more so without the suspended Ronaldo. Does Cristiano therefore hamper the team by trying to do too much on his own?

This game may give us some answers and now Benzema has banged in a couple (was that back heel from Guti to set Karim's fist up not one of the most eye catching assists you could hope to see?) he has been elevated to being mentioned in this week's previews.

Monsieur Benzema is 3/1 to get the first goal or 8/11 to score at anytime, while his inconsistent, troublesome, but talented teammate Guti is 9/4 to score at anytime.

As regular contributor Terry often tells us, Espanyol (11/1) are pretty good at home, but the statistics prove that it's a very different state of affairs away from Barcelona with Espanyol having won only once with two draws and six defeats making up their record.

Espanyol should however make it very hard for Real Madrid and as a goal is by no means beyond them my attention is drawn to last week's scorer Luis Garcia. The talented second striker is available at a mind boggling 20/1 to score first or 7/1 anytime.

Handicaps of Espanyol + 2 goals (11/10) and + 3 (4/11) could be worth a look if you don't mind short prices, but don't forget that you can always bet in play if you're not sure what to go with.



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