Spanish La Liga previews
Valencia v Real Zaragoza, 17:00
Coming off the back of a shocking 2-1 home defeat to Mallorca, Valencia (2/5) will look to rebound by beating Jose Aurelio Gay's Zaragoza at the Mestalla.
I believe bouncebackability, a term I first heard in rugby league - though it's said to have been coined by the frightening looking Ian Dowie, is exactly what Unai Emery's Los Che must prove they have today.
Beat bottom club Zaragoza by at least two goals and confidence will rise, tired players will feel re-energized, the crowd will be at ease and the club can kick on from the disappointing defeat to Laudrup's boys.
Draw or lose and, taking into account the Champions league draw away to Rangers, Valencia will be in a mini crisis. Such talk and need for clarity means that I will only be betting in-play on the 90 minute market.
If you fancy a pre match punt on Los Che, someone has to score. Soldado (10/3 to score first, 10/11 anytime) netted a penalty last weekend so maybe he's your man.
Mata is seemingly not Emery's man of the moment as the Spanish international was not called upon to start the Barca game and, to my horror, did not even get off the bench in the Mallorca defeat.
Many people, me included, have said that Valencia have enough strength in depth to cope with multiple tourneys and the toll they take on a playing squad.
Up until recently that had been the case as players were seamlessly rotated in and out without results suffering. However, the nine changes that Emery made last weekend must be considered over rotating.
When playing a team who have drawn against Barca and Real, making so many changes and leaving key players like Mata out of the team is not a good idea.
Besides, Pablo Hernandez is clearly lacking in confidence since spurning wonderful chances in recent games, and wingers were as key to Valencia's hopes of beating Mallorca as they will be in any game they'll play.
Unless part time winger Mata is made a permanent fixture in the more central role that David Silva used to occupy, Los Che will struggle to create opportunities through the middle.
Zaragoza (13/2) had a couple of decent chances in their 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Barcelona last weekend but succumbed to a Messi brace - Not all lot you can do to stop him, but Zaragoza could halt Valencia in their tracks tonight and escape with an unlikely draw (3/1).
However, start Mata, ensure decent crosses are put in to Aduriz (10/3 to score first, 10/11 anytime) and Valencia could call a halt to Senor Gay's time in charge of Zaragoza.
Like I said earlier, given my concerns and the way too short price of 2/5 on Valencia, it's a learning game for my money.
I will, however, take a small pre match punt of 2-0 to Valencia (7/1).Bet now
Hercules v Real Madrid, 19:00-Sky Sports 4
Fantastic! That's what I thought about Real Madrid's (2/7) performance during their 6-1 defeat of Racing last weekend: Great teamwork and movement complimented by incisive, purposeful passing with great finishing.
On current form, there's no better finisher than Cristiano Ronaldo who, after his four goal haul at the weekend, now has ten goals in eight games! More goals than games is stunning and CR9 has double the amount of his nearest rival, Nilmar (5).
Straight and anytime wincasts involving the Portuguese may now be considered too short - at 13/5 and 13/20 respectively - in the eyes of many punters.
Strike partner Higuain (5/2 to score first, 4/7 anytime), though nowhere near as prolific, is in the same pricing bracket as Cristiano. If the Argentine - who has scored first in each of his last two games - is not too short for you, wincast and anytime time wincasts are available at 3/1 and 3/4 in the same order.
Though I'm not convinced that tonight's opponents, 13th placed Hercules (17/2), will ship more than three goals at home, either of Ronaldo (9/4) or Higuain (5/2) could still score two or more at the Estadio Jose Rico Perez this evening.
I'd pick Ronaldo to achieve that feat and think that either Trezeguet (10/1 to score first, 7/2 anytime) or Valdez will score Hercules solitary goal in a 3-1 defeat to Jose's boys.
Since returning from injury two games ago, Paraguayan Valdez (10/1 to score first, 7/2 anytime) has scored two goals in two starts. He also has experience of scoring against a "big two" team in Spain and, despite Trezeguet scoring three goals in three games at home, looks to be a marginally better pick than the Frenchman.
Given all of the scoring talk, "Yes" (8/11) in the both team to score market should have massive appeal to punters, it certainly does to me.
Other bets to consider are over 3.5 goals (13/10) and the double result bets of Real Madrid/Real Madrid (17/20) and, to a lesser extent, Draw/Real Madrid (16/5).
For a cheeky £1 scorecast, I fancy Ronaldo to score first and Real to win 3-1; priced at 25/1. As a separate bet, the correct score bet of 3-1 to Real is worth a punt and available at 10/1.
Hercules are not a bad side and they did beat Barca, but I don't think they'll beat a rampant Los Blancos side this evening and will recommend Real Madrid - 1 at 17/20. Bet now
Despite having ridiculous amounts of possession, Barcelona could only beat Zaragoza 2-0 at La Romareda last weekend. As was the case in scoreline and scorer in the AC Milan game, Messi scored both.
No question, some of Barca's players are tired after the World Cup and missing games because of, or playing with, injuries. Summer signing David Villa played and set Messi up in Zaragoza, but he's lacking sharpness in front of goal and was perhaps rushed back from injury too quickly.
Iniesta will occasionally score, Xavi might get three a season and Puyol will pop up with one or two, but Barca are virtually dependant on Messi (5/2 to score first, also 5/2 to two or more) scoring at the moment and he is the only sensible choice for me on a game to game basis when considering potential Barcelona scorers.
For potential Sevilla scorers, hats off to Fabiano (8/1 to score first, 11/4 anytime) for bagging a brace and well done to Kanoute (11/1 to score first, 4/1 anytime) for achieving the same feat in Sevilla's thrilling, yet controversial 4-3 defeat of Athletic Bilbao at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan last Sunday evening.
Much like Villarreal - Atletico games, Barcelona v Sevilla can generally be counted on to provide winners in the over 2.5 goals (4/9) and both teams to score (Yes = 4/5) markets.
However, if it's much like last weekend's Submarines - Colchoneros clash we won't be seeing returns on those two bets as it finished 2-0 to the home team.
Two - nil to the home team (13/2) is indeed a scoreline I fancy tonight, though Sevilla have every chance of scoring so 2-1 and 3-1 to Barcelona should also be thrown into the mix at 15/2 and 10/1 respectively.
Sevilla have won in the Nou Camp before and with Barca far from their imperious best, could do so again today.
However, I feel Barca wins this game 9/10 and with Messi in such good form, will once again recommend the wincast bet of the Argentine scoring first and Barcelona winning (3/1). Bet now
Enjoy the action and don't forget that you can always bet in-play with William Hill Online.