Sunday's Spanish La Liga previews
Valladolid v Mallorca, 16:00
Mallorca's 100% home La Liga record was finally ruined by the Rojiblancos of Seville and, given how poor the islanders have been on the road this season, things are unlikely to get any better when they travel to the Nuevo Estadio Jose Zorrilla to face Valladolid.
Valladolid (5/4) have compiled a record of two draws and one defeat since the appointment of reserve team boss Onesimo and while you could argue that's progress for a team occupying eighteenth position, wins are required if they are to avoid relegation.
Mallorca (2/1) have only won once on the road and should present their hosts with an ideal opportunity to take all three points and climb closer to those above them.
The Barralets are in deep trouble financially and will have to sell most of their team in the summer to satisfy creditors. Miracle working boss Gregorio Manzano will also leave and be replaced with someone on a much cheaper salary.
Mallorca's sole objective was to avoid relegation and bar a total collapse they will realise that goal.
Could be a draw (11/5) but I expect Valladolid to edge it.
Racing Santander v Almeria, 16:00
A key game for both teams as a Racing (11/10) have twenty- five points and lie in sixteenth position, while their opponents Almeria (23/10) have a point more and sit two places higher in fourteenth place.
As suggested last week, Racing went to play Barcelona in the Nou Camp with their best players absent through suspension (deliberately I might add!), effectively conceding any hope of taking something from the match.
Racing's Real Madrid bound starlet Sergio Canales was the exception and the youngster impressed enough to mention a warrant today.
Almeria beat Atletico 1-0 last week with a late winner from Pablo Piatti, but low scoring draws have become their hallmark and I would therefore expect under 2.5 goals (8/15) and the draw (11/5) to be popular with punters in this game.
The last two bets can be combined in a match x goals bet, available at 3/1.
Sporting Gijon v Osasuna, 16:00
Sporting (7/5) ruined one of my bets by surprisingly winning 3-1 in Zaragoza last weekend but can make amends by beating Osasuna (9/5) this afternoon.
Sporting are very hard to beat at home and face an Osasuna team who hit the woodwork three times in their disappointing one all home draw with Valladolid last Sunday.
Star Sporting striker Bilic is back amongst the goals and could prove to be the difference between a draw (21/10) and a win.
I'm choosing a home win for my small stakes ten team accumulator, but it's no certainty.
Villarreal v Deportivo La Coruna, 16:00
Ok, my longshot double chance bet of Villarreal or draw proved to be way off the mark last week but the yellow submarines did have a chance at 2-1 and 3-2 and thankfully for them, face much easier opposition at home this afternoon.
Villarreal (19/20) will be tired from their Europa League defeat in Wolfsburg but, after the unexpected goal scoring return of Deportivo's Skilled wide man Guardado, Deportivo (13/5) were rocked with the news that in form striker Riki will be sidelined for two months, helping tilt the balance back to the yellow submarines.
Guardado is 11/1 to score first or 3/1 anytime, but Nilmar (5/1 first scorer, 11/8 anytime) keeps on making me money and the free kick taking of Brazilian born Spanish International Marcus Senna (12/1 first scorer, 7/2 anytime) also lined my pockets last weekend.
Deportivo are decent away from home (4 wins, 3 draws and 4 defeats) but still have many players on the treatment table and while a draw (23/10) is not unlikely given Villarreal's late midweek commitments, I think the subs will edge this one.
Xerez v Espanyol, 16:00
Conceding two goals in the opening six minutes put paid to my hopes of Xerez leaving A Coruna with a point last Saturday.
Xerez (2/1) did however make a fight of it and gained a lifeline when Bermejo scored his third goal in three games, ensuring a nervy finish for their hosts.
Espanyol (13/10) had countless chances in their 2-1 away defeat to Malaga, with Luis Garcia guilty of a glaring miss when it would surely have been easier to score.
Like Mallorca, the Catalans have only won one way game in La Liga this season and the chances of an upset are therefore very good for the improving Xerez.
Xerez or draw is far too short for me (4/7) so I'm inclined to look towards a riskier bet with greater rewards.
That comes in the form of a draw (21/10), but regular contributors (to my comments section) Jimbo and Terry may disagree with the former a follower of the "if in doubt pick a home win" theory, and the latter a big Espanyol fan.
So, pick 1 for Jimbo, X for JC or 2 for Terry!
If you can't decide you can always bet In-Play.
Sevilla v Athletic Bilbao, 18:00-Sky Sports 3
Sevilla (13/20) drew one all on the plastic pitch of CSKA Moscow in the Champions league on Wednesday night, and will have to play well this weekend to avoid the potential banana skin that is Athletic Bilbao (4/1).
Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo scored the Rojiblancos solitary goal in Russia and must have felt relieved to do so after he was, once again, sent off for Sevilla in their preceding game; the 3-1 away defeat of Mallorca.
With Negredo suspended, Fabiano (7/2 to score first, evens anytime) and Kanoute (9/2 to score first, 5/4 anytime) will be expected to provide the goals this weekend but, If you're looking for a bigger price, winger Navas scored in the Son Moix stadium and could be worth a punt at 15/2 as the first scorer or 2/1 to net one at anytime.
By the way, the Mallorca-Sevilla match was a great example of why it's good to bet In-Play, and proved that you can make the wrong pick pre match then redeem yourself during it!
I picked Mallorca for my "small stakes predict every match" bet last week but was not sure of the outcome and pre match nothing more was staked.
Once In-Play Mallorca took the lead but, immediately after they narrowly failed to add a second, conceded a calamitous equaliser and you just knew that was it for Mallorca, even after Negredo walked I was still certain that Sevilla would win.
Athletic Target man Llorente (8/1 first scorer, 9/4 anytime) is a more reliable bet at home (as a goalscorer) than he is away from San Mames, but is nonetheless worth serious consideration today.
Although Athletic have also played in Europe midweek, there is still a good chance of a Sevilla having a "Champions League hangover" and consequently the double chance bet of Athletic or draw (11/10) will be of interest to those with that mindset.
Finally, the draw is 5/2 and handicaps of Athletic +1 and +2 are available at 11/10 and 1/3 respectively.
Atletico Madrid v Valencia, 20:00-Sky Sports 3
This should be the most entertaining of the week twenty four games with both teams weak defensively and no doubt tired after playing in the Europa League midweek.
Goals, goals and more goals should therefore be on the agenda and for those interested, over 2.5 seems the most likely winner and is priced at 13/20.
Both teams to score would not (for once) have been a winning bet when Atletico lost in Almeria last weekend, but it looks a near cert today and, not surprisingly, is priced at 8/15.
Los Colchoneros route to European action next season will most likely come through their participation in the Copa Del Rey final. Considering Atletico (6/4) have a disliked coach at the helm, you have to wonder if many of the players have a mentality of "do enough to avoid relegation, but win the cup".
Diego Forlan (5/1 to score first, 11/8 anytime) usually proves to be the best bet if you want an Atletico (6/4) goalscorer. I must also give a mention to former Arsenal winger Reyes (9/1 to score first, 5/2 anytime) who has been playing very well recently, scoring a couple of goals in the process.
Valencia (17/10) have injury problems (as documented in Monday's preview) in defence and survived a few hairy moments to beat Getafe with some world class counter attacking at the Mestalla.
Villa (9/2 first scorer, 5/4 anytime) was on fire and scored a stunning curling lob after a delightful through ball from David Silva (8/1 to score first, 9/4 anytime).
Credit must also be given to Argentine Dominguez (7/1 first scorer, 15/8 anytime) who has settled in very well with Los Che and must surely soon get his first goal for Los Che.
The reverse fixture ended in a 2-2 draw (11/1 for a repeat) and while a draw (21/10) is likely, I think a Valencia win (17/10) is more likely.
That does, however, depend on the personnel and tactics employed by Unai Emery who, to the disappointment of many involved with the club, has been known to look for nothing more than a point in away fixtures against dangerous opposition.
Quique Sanchez Flores will want to get over his old club, but will his players be bothered?
Make sure you tune in to find out, and don't forget that you can bet In-Play with William Hill Online.