La Liga Previews - Round 33
Well, it's been over two years since I last penned La Liga previews on this site, but I'm delighted to be back and look forward to resuming my normal column in its regular format.
However, as we're at the tail end of the season and as I've written other articles on Spanish football for the company already this week, I offer this experimental preview of every round 33 game in one article.
For now, I hope you enjoy the read and wish you the best of luck with your bets.
Round 33 of Liga BBVA kicks off with a Friday evening tie between 18th placed Celta Vigo (2.3) and 14th placed Athletic Bilbao (3.0). Having won at mid-table Levante last weekend, Celta will need another three points today in order to, at least temporarily, move out of the relegation zone and close the seven point gap between their selves and Bielsa's Athletic.
Athletic, who will miss midfielder Herrera for the visit to Vigo, have scored in three of their last four away games and likely would likely be happy with a score draw against Celta.
Celta have also conceded in three out of their last four home games, making BTTS a fairly strong bet. However, given home advantage and greater need of the points, I expect a Celta win and cannot decide which bet to take!
However, I'd suggest that, once the price is released, both teams to score and a Celta win is worth a punt as a single bet.
Saturday contains four matches, starting with Champions League chasing Valencia (1.4) and relegation threatened Osasuna (8.0). With five games to play and a five point gap between their selves and fourth placed Real Sociedad - who Valencia lost to last weekend - Los Che must defeat Osasuna and hope that La Real slip up in their fixture.
Osasuna, on the other hand, are three points clear of the drop zone but cannot relax and must also try to win today. As such, both teams to score - winner in three out of the last four Valencia home matches and Osasuna away games - fits the bill at 1.85.
The second Saturday match is similar to the first one as Granada are close to the drop zone and Malaga (2.8) are chasing a European place. However, with the Anchovies banned from UEFA club competitions in 2013/14 (pending appeal), their motivation and effort has been questionable in recent road
games, so it seems best to side with Granada at 2.5.
Next up, Real Madrid (1.2) host Valladolid (13.0) - a team who, in recent away games, appeared to be mentally on holiday with their top flight status almost secured for another season. Given this, while factoring in that Real Madrid and her players will be expected to easily defeat Djukic's Valladolid, particularly after midweek Champions League disappointment, it seems best to side with either Real Madrid minus two goals (2.2) or the shorter priced over 3.5 match goals at 1.73.
Deportivo La Coruna host Atletico Madrid (2.1) in the final game on Saturday. Put simply, this game is of little consequence to Los Colchoneros as they are six points behind second place Real Madrid and cannot finish any lower than third.
Deportivo, however, are very much in the relegation mix and, while in great general from with four wins and two draws from their last six games, must win or at least draw this game. Therefore, needs must says that Depor are worth a small bet at 3.4, with a plus one goal handicap perhaps worthy of a larger stake at 1.73.
The early (11am BST) Sunday Liga BBVA games often produce erratic, unexpected results, but this weekend's offering of bottom club Mallorca against mid-table Levante (4.75) looks likely to buck the trend as the former must win, while the latter has lost their last four games and hasn't scored in almost a month. Mallorca are priced at 1.75.
Later in the day, Real Zaragoza (2.05) host Rayo Vallecano (3.4). Basically, Zara are currently second bottom and must win, while Rayo would like at least a point to remain in contention for a Europa League berth. In such situations, both teams to score - currently available at a 1.73 price - fits the bill.
Sevilla (1.6) - a team with a superb home record - host mid-table Espanyol (5.8). Given that the Catalans, like many team's mentioned in this preview, appear to be in season over mode - top flight stats assured - Sevilla minus one goal (2.45) and the double result of Sevilla/Sevilla (2.37) appear to be the best bets to choose from.
In what is probably the tie of the weekend, Barcelona (1.22) host Real Betis (11.0) in Sunday's final game. With the Catalans tired from midweek Champions League excursions and Betis a threat to anyone with their potent counter-attacking game, Betis plus two goals (2.2) and both teams to score (1.7) are standout bets.
Lastly, Ruben Castro anytime scorer - a winner in at least the last two head to head clashes between Barca and Betis - has to be worth a punt at a very generous 5.0 price.
Rounding off week 33 is a Monday evening clash between Getafe (3.75) and Real Sociedad. Now, as the Azulones have been in poor form recently and will miss key players today, it seems best to back fourth placed Real Sociedad - a team, conversely, in superb form - at 2.0 here.
Finally, don't forget to check out our headline offers and in-play betting at Williamhill.com - The Home of Betting.