Sunday's La Liga previews
La Liga is back after the Christmas break and there's some cracking games to look forward to.
Many La Liga experts predicted that Mallorca (evens) would get relegated at the end of this campaign, but the Islanders have had a tremendous season so far and most of that is down to their home form. Manager Gregorio Manzano should receive the lion's share of the credit for his shrewd tactics at the Ono Estadi and surely has a brighter future away from the Islanders.
For now, his charges must concentrate on keeping their 100% home record intact and that will not be easy against Sunday's opponents Athletic Bilbao (5/2). The Basque's are historically a team that usually wins at home, but loses on their travels. However, they have bucked that trend in recent weeks with three straight away wins in a row.
This is a statistic I will respect and one that leads me to think that this game will end in a draw (9/4).
Worth a punt: Draw (9/4).
As Barcelona found out a couple of months ago, it is not easy to leave Pamplona with all three points. I predicted a draw in that fixture and a late Osasuna (6/1) equaliser allowed my wallet to expand a little further.
At the time, Osasuna were playing well and their Uruguayan target man Walter Pandiani (15/2 first goal, 9/4 anytime scorer) was exhibiting goal scoring form not seen since his days in La Coruna with Deportivo. As we all know, things can change quickly in football and neither statement rings true at the moment with Osasuna failing to pick up a single point at home since that fixture and Pandiani failing to hit the net, mainly through suspension and injury.
Real (4/9) on the other hand, have enjoyed great success recently and have looked and played like a team for at least two games. You have to therefore assume that they will roll over just about anybody at the moment and they should have no problems with Osasuna.
Ex World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo is in great goal scoring form and will likely lift the award again should Los Blanco's win the Champions League in their home stadium. For this game he is priced at 7/2 to score the first goal and 10/11 to score at anytime.
In even better goal scoring form is Gonzalo Higuain (4/1 first scorer), who has netted an unbelievable nine goals in seven games (take note David Villa!). He's fast becoming a popular recommendation on my Real Madrid match previews and this match is no different.
Recommendation: Higuain to score at anytime (evens)
As ever you can bet In-Play with William Hill on a range of markets on these exciting matches.