Sunday's La Liga previews
Sevilla v Atletico Madrid, 16:00
The Rojiblancos were defeated 4-3 by Madrid side Getafe last weekend (see Saturday's previews for a run through on that) and must be very disappointed that they did not at least take a point from a game in which they twice led.
Despite throwing away the lead, I don't think that Sevilla deserved anything from that game anyway, but the confidently taken goals of Fabiano and Kanoute suggest that Sevilla (1/3) can contend with anyone providing their defence holds up their end of the bargain.
That should not be a problem today as Atletico will be tired after losing 2-1 to Liverpool at Anfield, and have taken a less than committed attitude to anything other than cup competition recently; they will also face, ironically, Sevilla in the Copa Del Rey final later this month.
The word is that Atletico (6/1) will field an even weaker side than normal (previous weeks in Primera games have included approximately half of their regular first eleven) today, with the only threat being impressive youngster Salvio who scored in Atletico's 3-1 defeat of Tenerife last weekend.
Atletico will want fifth placed Sevilla to finish fourth, thus guaranteeing Los Colchoneros a Europa League place even if they lose to the Rojiblancos in the Copa Del Rey final.
With the cup final in mind, Quique Sanchez Flores will not want to give anything away tactically, and hence I fully expect a weakened Atletico side to prove easy pickings for Sevilla.
Sevilla are too short priced at 1/3, so I instead suggest the double result bet of Sevilla/Sevilla (19/20).
Real Madrid v Osasuna, 18:00-Sky Sports 1 (1st half on the red button)
With Villarreal having a great opportunity to beat Barcelona this weekend, Los Blancos must take all three points against nothing to play for Osasuna tonight.
The short priced Real Madrid (1/9) could indeed be top of the standings by 19:45 UK time tonight, and should in theory roll over Osasuna.
However, anyone who knows Spanish football will tell you that Osasuna have a dislike for Real and would love to hamper Los Blancos chances of winning the title.
Consider also that teams with nothing to play for, who are playing a rival of someone who has something to play for, are often offered large cash incentives to try harder than expected and deny their opponents all three points.
While slightly grey, this practice is not illegal, and certainly not uncommon come the closing stages of any La Liga season. As I have not heard so this time, I can't be sure that a Catalan man in a black suit will have descended upon Pamplona with a large briefcase prior to the Osasuna team travelling to Madrid.
Anyway, even if such an incentive had been offered, Osasuna (14/1) are unlikely to be able to take something from the Bernabeu; Real have won every game on home soil part from losing to Barca.
I would love to see an upset, but Osasuna have lost their last six fixtures away from home, interestingly not netting a single goal in the process.
I will not back any of these players as they are too short priced, but I have no doubts that punters will be interested in Ronaldo (2/1 to score first, 2/5 anytime) and Higuain (5/2 to score first, 4/7 anytime).
In conclusion: I beat Real on the handicap last weekend (Zaragoza +2 goals in their 2-1 defeat to Los Blancos), but this weekend prefer the bet of only Real to score (8/11) in the teams to score market.
Athletic Bilbao v Mallorca, 20:00-Sky Sports 1
The Basque giants drew 0-0 away to Osasuna on Monday evening, a result that will likely rule them out of qualifying for the Champions League. They are, however, still within contention for sixth place and the final Europa League spot.
Indeed, Athletic (evens) are only two points adrift of sixth placed Villarreal and, given that the Yellow Submarines will fancy their chances of beating Barcelona this weekend, must take all three points from travel shy Mallorca to remain in contention.
Former column favourite Fernando Llorente (5/1 to score first, 5/4 anytime) has been out of form recently and hence can't be relied on as a scorer, even at home. Maybe he starts scoring again tonight but, as regular readers will know, zero goals in two games means that no striker see's my cash gambled on their potential success in front of goal.
It is pretty much the same with Athletic's Torquero (13/2 to score first, 15/8 anytime) who was in blistering form a few weeks ago.
With Athletic's top two misfiring, teenage wonder kid Iker Muniain (8/1 to score first, 11/4 anytime) could be the player too look to if you fancy an Athletic scorer that, while he hasn't scored recently and doesn't always start, offers better value and won't leave you wondering why you picked the shortest priced player when you knew he wasn't in good form.
As for Mallorca (5/2), well they appear to be starting to stumble as they near the finish line (see last weekend's home draw with Malaga) and have only won twice on the road this season.
Striker Aduriz (11/2 to score first, 6/4 anytime) scored an injury time equaliser last weekend which will give the inconsistent front man some much needed confidence, but Mallorca score far less often on the road (39 at home, only 14 away) and I am therefore not confident enough to back Aduriz or any other Barralets striker today.
I won't be putting my money on the following bet as I will be watching the game and, however unlikely, hope to see a few goals. If you are not viewing like me, under 2.5 goals seems likely and is priced at 10/11.
Athletic are usually great at home but have been poor recently, Mallorca are bad on the road and probably won't score (no in the both teams to score market is 21/20). This suggests a 0-0 is possible (priced at 10/1), as is the draw (9/4).
However, and even though I have doubts, I won't go against Athletic at home and will pick them to win tonight (evens). I will also have a much smaller stake on 0-0 (10/1) just in case nobody has their shooting boots on tonight.