Sunday's La Liga previews
Almeria v Malaga, 16:00
At the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterraneos last Saturday night, Almeria deservedly drew 2-2 with Barca in a thrilling game. I knew it would be a tough game for the Catalans but decided to take Barca on my small stakes accumulator, with the mindset that they would win a close match. I also suggested that I would look towards the draw in-pay; one winner, one loser. I don't expect to get 10/10 pre-match picks correct so it was an acceptable loss to me. I hope readers were able to judge that, particularly at 1-0, a draw looked like a decent punt.
As for today, Malaga (5/2) were shockingly beaten 4-2 by Xerez in a bad tempered affair at La Rosaleda, and will struggle without the suspended, influential Duda. Valdo (11/1 to score first, 3/1 anytime) is in good goalscoring form with a goal in each of his last two games, and therefore seemingly represents the William Hill boy's best chances of a goal.
Can Malaga cause a shock there selves today?
I say no, Almeria win (evens) is my pick.
Racing Santander v Real Zaragoza, 16:00
Racing (23/20) took a point from Valencia on Monday evening, but have been extremely shy in front of goal. Zaragoza (21/10) conceded an injury time goal to draw at home to Atletico last weekend.
Humberto Suazo (6/1 to score first, 13/8 anytime) did not score in that game but stays on my consideration list due to his brace in the preceding fixture.
Without hesitation, I say draw (9/4).
Tenerife v Espanyol, 16:00
Quite a toughie to pick, I'm very interested to hear what Espanyol fan Terry thinks about this one.
Tenerife (6/5) were comfortably beaten 3-1 by Deportivo last weekend but, like so many teams in La Liga, are a different proposition at home.
Espanyol (2/1) cannot take their chances at the moment, but fare better than the Islanders on their travels.
I am not certain, but I fancy a draw (9/4).
Villarreal v Xerez, 16:00
The Yellow Submarines played in one of those rare, open, exiting goalless draws at Espanyol last Sunday. Poor finishing was the problem, and I am therefore hesitant to back Nilmar (10/3 to score first, 10/11 anytime) today. Zero goals in two games takes anybody of my personal betting list.
Xerez striker Bermejo (9/1 to score first, 5/2 anytime) missed the Xercecistas bad tempered visit to Malaga through suspension. He's back today and, with four goals in his last four games, deserves consideration if you want to back a scorer.
Xerez shockingly beat Malaga 4-2 in La Rosaleda to register their first ever Primera division away win. Xerez (15/2) have steadily improved and are now reasonable at scoring goals, the main problem they've had all season. Maybe things could have been very different if they hadn't looked destined to finish as the Primera divisions all time lowest goalscorers.
A Villarreal (1/3) win on my small stakes accumulator, with single betting possibilities only risked after in-play evaluation.
Barcelona v Valencia, 18:00-Sky Sports 1 (first half on the red button)
For anyone living in England, this game is one of the reasons why cable company Virgin Media should always come second to Sky. A strange opening you might think, but with the first half of this tasty fixture on the red button (not available to Virgin customers), there are going to be some unhappy punters and confused pub landlords!
For the game itself, this fixture usually proves to be the sort of game that Valencia will either take an early lead in, then draw, or just get hammered!
Los Che are not playing well and crucially Villa (15/2 to score first, 9/4 anytime) is not scoring goals. Valencia (11/2) do, however, have one of the best away records in La Liga (7 wins), and Barcelona (2/5) should no longer be considered a banker at short prices.
Last weekend Barca drew 2-2 in Almeria, with Messi (10/3 to score first, 4/5 anytime) scoring both goals. Valencia disappointingly drew 0-0 at home to Racing, spurning countless chances in the process.
If Valencia had not been involved in the Europa league on Thursday night I would have leaned towards a draw (10/3). When you consider that Unai Emery masterminded a draw against the Catalans in the reverse fixture at the Mestalla, that bet would have had merit.
Without knowing the condition of David Villa (who left the pitch with a shoulder injury in Valencia's Europa league game with Werder Bremen), I can't be sure how much of a chance Valencia have. I will therefore only bet in-play.
As I have to choose something for my small stakes accumulator, I've taken a home win.
Valladolid v Real Madrid, 20:00
Joy turns to despair-What a crazy, crazy week it's been for Los Blancos.
Last Saturday Real Madrid (1/4) came from two goals down to beat Sevilla 3-2 in one of the most entertaining matches you could ever hope to see. Come Wednesday night, Real had been eliminated from the Champions league after shockingly drawing 1-1 at home to Lyon.
Anybody who works directly with me will tell you that after Ronaldo (3/1 to score first, 8/11 anytime) had put Real into an early lead against Lyon, I said it stays 1-0 at half time, then Lyon gain confidence and score a goal- goodbye Real!
I will no doubt get many things wrong when picking results pre-match, but the ability to read a game in-play is something I'm very effective at doing.
Higuain (3/1 to score first, 8/11 anytime) has not been at his razor sharp best recently so I am not backing him today. However, he could easily score against a weak team such as Valladolid (17/2), so you should make your own decision here.
For my small stakes accumulator, this goes down as an away win.