Sunday's La Liga previews
Almeria v Osasuna, 16:00
Still bottom of the table, Almeria beat Deportivo 3-2 at the Riazor to progress to the Copa del Rey semi finals. Their prize for this feat is a two legged affair with Barcelona.
Most rational people would rate Almeria's chances of knocking the Catalans out as somewhere between slim and none, but Almeria did stunningly lead, before eventually drawing with, Real Madrid last weekend and their confidence is rising as a consequence.
Tired as they may be after their midweek cup excursions, Almeria (6/5) must now concentrate on the league and beat the worst away team in La Liga tonight, Jose' Camacho's Osasuna.
Pamplona outfit Osasuna (5/2) did manage to score two goals in their 4-2 away defeat to Villarreal last weekend, but The Yellow Submarines have uncharacteristically conceded five goals in two games (league and cup) and this could explain the rare Osasuna double.
The best candidates to score for the home team are Ulloa (5/1 to score first, 5/4 anytime) and Piatti (11/2 to score first, 6/4 anytime), the former of which scored against Real Madrid.
An upset is possible today and I did consider it for a while, but I'll kick myself if Almeria win and I'm wrong. Perhaps draw/Almeria is the way to go at 9/2, but I'll just recommend the straight win. Betting in-play is a stronger recommendation if you can wait.
Recommendation: Almeria (6/5)
Worth a small punt: Correct score of 1-0 to Almeria (11/2)
Getafe v Espanyol, 16:00
Never in a million years would I have picked travel shy Real Sociedad to beat Getafe 4-0 in the Alfonso Perez last weekend. In fact, I even doubled my normal stake and put Getafe (11/10) in a double with Athletic I was so confident!
Losing two bets was not fun, but I can't blame myself for a lighter wallet, oh no. I'll take my licks if I'm wrong, but only a madman or clairvoyant would have predicted such a hammering for Getafe at home.
At home is where tonight's visitors, 5th placed Espanyol (5/2), historically flourish, but they their selves have pulled off a few away upsets this season, one of which came last weekend.
Through a Callejon brace, Espanyol surprisingly beat Sevilla 2-1 in the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Scoring both goals was Callejon (7/1 to score first, 2/1 anytime), a classy but inconsistent winger/forward.
As well as Callejon, my favourite Garcia, Luis, also played well in Sevilla and is worth your attention should you fancy an alternative Espanyol scorer tonight. Luis is priced at 8/1 to score first or 11/4 anytime.
I have no clear pick for a potential Getafe scorer, but Pedro Rios (8/1 to score first, 11/4 anytime) is a good player and contributes with a goal every few games.
Quite honestly, I can't decide on whether both teams will score or not tonight, but if you can, 8/11 is the price for yes and evens for no. The same applies to the over/under 2.5 goals market: 19/20 for over, 4/5 for under.
Though I'm tempted to go for another shock Espanyol away win in the 90 minute market, Getafe could react to last week's slaughter and beat the Catalans so I'm going down the middle.
Worth a punt: Draw (9/4)
Real Zaragoza v Deportivo La Coruna, 16:00
By virtue of a rare Gabi goal, Zaragoza (evens) beat Levante 1-0 last weekend. Tonight they face a Deportivo side who must be distraught after coming back from two goals down to lose 3-2 at home to Almeria in the Copa del Rey midweek.
I would not bank on Gabi scoring again today but, as no other names spring to mind as a potential Zaragoza scorer, he can have his price listed at 11/1 to score first or 4/1 anytime.
Despite two goals in midweek, I would not bet on Deportivo (11/4) scoring today as they have failed to find the back of the net four times in their last five away games. I should also point out that the last four clashes between these two sides have yielded only two goals, both to Zaragoza.
Based on the above statistics, under 2.5 goals (6/10) is the sensible pick in the over/under markets, while "No" (7/10) in the both teams to score market also sounds logical. Should you fancy a double result bet as well, draw/Zaragoza could be worth a punt at 15/4.
Put simply, Zaragoza are improving and Deportivo are poor on the road. A draw (23/10) must be given a mention as it has taken place many times between these two teams, but I made my mind up as soon as I looked at the fixture list.
Last week I went for Zaragoza to win 1-0 and they won 2-1. It's not paid off for me recently, particularly in the cup games, but I'll try a repeat of last week's pick and go for 1-0 to Zaragoza (11/2).
Recommendation: Zaragoza (evens)
Sporting Gijon v Atletico Madrid, 16:00
After drawing 1-1 away to Racing and defeating Hercules 2-0 in Gijon, Sporting (7/4) have clearly made improvements and, unless he loses tonight, coach Preciado's job is seemingly safe for the time being.
Not on the scoresheet last week but finding the net the week before was Sporting's Diego Castro (13/2 to score first, 15/8 anytime), who now has an impressive tally of seven goals in fifteen La Liga games so far this season.
A forecaster's nightmare, Atletico (6/4) did what they are supposed to by beating Mallorca last weekend. Three - nil was the score on the night, and credit must be given to Atleti Keeper David De Gea for saving a Mallorca penalty and denying the islanders a chance to get back into the match when two down.
On the scoresheet were Varela, Forlan (9/2 to score first, 6/5 anytime) and Reyes (7/2 anytime scorer). Out of the three, and despite him not scoring first as suggested (I covered and recommended the e/w but little profit), Forlan would be my pick to bag the first today as he has scored six goals in only four games against Sporting.
Forlan could not, however, score in Atletico's dismal, pathetic 1-0 home submission to city rivals Real Madrid on Thursday night, a result that saw them exit the cup 4-1 on aggregate. Hopefully Atleti coach Quique Sanchez Flores will give Diego some support up front today.
Nine out of ten Spanish cats would pick poor travellers Atletico to lose today, but I'll be the tenth cat and chance the unpredictable Colchoneros doing exactly the opposite of what they are supposed to.
Recommendation: Atletico (6/4)
Worth a punt: Diego Forlan to score first (9/2)
Real Madrid v Mallorca, 18:00-Sky Sports 1
Only rescued from defeat by a goal from substitute Granero, Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho was no doubt very unhappy after drawing 1-1 away to Almeria last weekend.
However, Real Madrid (1/6) easily defeated a negative Atletico side 1-0 in the cup on Thursday night to progress to the semi finals of the Copa del Rey so criticism must be accompanied by praise.
Plenty of praise must be given to Ronaldo (7/4 to score first, 4/11 anytime), who confidently finished off an excellent team move to compliment his 22 league goals with a sixth cup strike and defeat Atleti.
On the opening Sunday of this season I went 5/5 on my recommendations and, with Mallorca and Real tied at half time, was on course for 6/6 if Real could win the second half as expected. The game sadly ended in a 0-0 draw and my day of perfection (just once, please!) was ruined.
Mallorca (14/1) went on to prove that they are a side to be reckoned with after also drawing with Barcelona and beating Valencia and Sevilla on their own grounds.
The Barralets coach, Michael Laudrup, is an excellent tactician but his team were poor in their 3-0 away defeat to Atletico Madrid last week and should not fare any better in Spain's capital this week.
I'm going for the draw/ Real Madrid bet again, but I have one other recommendation if you prefer?
Recommendations: Ronaldo wincast (2/1) and the double result of draw/Real Madrid (18/5)
Villarreal v Real Sociedad, 18:00-Sky Sports 1
Soundly beaten 3-0 and eliminated from the Copa del Rey 6-3 on aggregate by Sevilla in their second leg quarter final tie midweek, third placed Villarreal (8/15) must now avenge their opening day loss to Real Sociedad.
I won't be easy as, despite having a terrible road record of three wins, one draw and six defeats, Sociedad (11/2) impressively defeated Getafe 4-0 in Madrid last weekend.
A stunning, totally unexpected result indeed, but are Getafe at the start of another slump or have Sociedad turned a corner on their travels? As good as Griezmann (10/1 to score first, 7/2 anytime) and Prieto (12/1 to score first, 5/1 anytime) are, while considering that we won't really know the answer to that question until Sunday's fixtures have been played, Villarreal have won nine and draw one at home so it's probably just a one of performance for Sociedad against a team out of form.
Sociedad could, however, upset Villarreal who, after their surprising 3-0 away cup defeat to Sevilla midweek, and 4-2 defeat of Osasuna last weekend, have conceded five goals in two games.
Conceding so many is somewhat unusual for Villarreal but it does make an easy decision in the both teams to score market. "Yes" is the only choice I think and is available at 7/10.
Nilmar should soon be back but will need time to return to form. While we wait, Rossi (10/3 to score first, 4/5 anytime) and Cani (8/1 to score first, 11/4 anytime) are the best choices should you be looking to back a Villarreal scorer.
Overall, I have slight doubts in the 90 minute market given The Yellow Submarines tiredness after their cup exit, but I will not go against Villarreal at home and expect them to win a high scoring game. Over 3.5 goals (7/4) might be pushing it, but I'm taking a punt nevertheless.
As a potential scoreline I fancy 3-1 to Villarreal (11/1), but will also have a couple of quid on 3-2 and 4-2 to the subs (priced at 22/1 and 40/1 respectively) as I fancy taking a few chances.
Recommendation: Match x goals bet of Villarreal and over 2.5 at 23/20
Worth a punt: Prieto, anytime scorer (5/1)