The Weekend's La Liga Previews
Saturday, 4 December 2010
Levante v Atletico Madrid, 17:00
Well, well, well, Atletico (17/20) are in a mini slump of sorts after being surprisingly defeated 3-2 at home to Espanyol last weekend, and then losing by the same score in Wednesday night's Europa league match with Aris Solonika.
The dapper dressed Atleti manager, Quique Sanchez Flores, will have to un-tuck his shirt, roll up his sleeves and start to re organize his defense as they look nervy and, along with the previously unflappable David De Gea, all out at sea as recent games have testified.
What you must question is how quickly Quique can make the required changes. There is no magic wand, no real life Harry Potter as Mourinho likes to say. Quique must work with what he has and improve confidence and defensive positioning.
I'm willing to take a chance that Los Colchoneros are still sloppy at the back in this afternoon's clash with a Levante (3/1) side that lost 3-1 away to Hercules last weekend, but punters should consider that however bad Atleti may be at the back, they can outscore any team on their day.
Forlan (4/1 to score first, 11/10 anytime) and Aguero (5/1 to score first, 11/8 anytime) are a well seasoned strike force and as good as any pairing in world football. Even when Atletico lose, one of the pair usually scores.
If you are looking for a Levante player in the goalscoring stakes, Caicedo (15/2 to score first, 2/1 anytime) and Stuani (also 15/2 to score first or 2/1 anytime) represent the best options on paper with the former having amassed 4 goals and the latter 3 in the current Primera Liga campaign.
To finalize the scoring talk, I'd suggest you give strong consideration to the "Yes" (4/6) option in the both teams to score market as I can't imagine that Atleti won't score and away from home they have conceded in every league fixture they've played.
Recommendation: Both teams to score (4/6)
Worth a punt: Levante - draw no bet (2/1)
Osasuna v Barcelona, 19:00-Sky Sports 1
They used to call the St Louis Rams "The greatest show on turf" ten years ago in American football and after Barcelona's 5-0 demolition of Real Madrid, there can be no doubt that the Catalans are "The greatest show on earth."
Such a high quality footballing lesson that Pep's Barca gave to Jose's Real Madrid does not come along often. Five- nil victories for either team have happened in the past, but last Monday's clash was the most one sided I have ever seen between the two teams.
Barcelona (1/4) totally dominated Real Madrid in every area of the pitch and, La Liga matches aside, the only similar game that came close to this is Ac Milan's 4-0 destruction of Johan Cruyff's heavily fancied Barcelona in the 1994 European Cup final.
Now cut to 4/6 to retain their Primera Liga title by William Hill Online, Barcelona will take some stopping and while Osasuna (12/1) may have got a draw from this fixture last season, it would take a brave man to go against the Catalan's taking all three points tonight.
Had Barcelona's victory not been so comprehensive, I was considering being that brave man and suggesting a draw (9/2) tonight. However, and while I don't expect a 5-0 win tonight and think that a few players may be rested, I can't go against Barca in such form and think that the handicap, goalscorer and double result markets are where punters should choose bets from.
If you can stomach the short price, I'd suggest you take Barca - 1 goal at 6/10. If you can't, Barca - 2 is better value at 8/5. In the goalscoring stakes, Messi (2/1 to score first, 2/5 anytime), Villa (11/4 to score first, 8/13 anytime) and, to a lesser extent, Pedro (4/1 to score first, evens anytime) are the obvious choices.
The obvious choice in the double result market is Barca/Barca (13/20) but, given the short price and the fact that Osasuna will make Barca fight for it in Pamplona, draw/Barca (3/1) could be a suitable long shot for punters.
I favour the handicap bets out of the above choices, but will also look to bet in-play.
Real Madrid v Valencia, 21:00-Sky Sports 1
Totally outclassed in the first Clasico of the season, Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid must now react from their 5-0 hammering by attempting to do the same to Valencia in the Bernabeu tonight.
Undefeated in Madrid, but not in the league after Monday night, Real Madrid (2/5) will be without the services of Sergio Ramos after his second red card in a week.
The first of those cards has caused in stir with the European footballing authorities as Senor Mourinho has been charged with instructing his right back into time deliberately getting himself carded in the club's Champions league match with Ajax.
The card was attained via time wasting to ensure that the full back would serve his suspension in the final, meaningless, game of the group stages, thus giving him a clean slate for the knockout stages.
As well as Ramos, Ronaldo (9/4 to score first, 1/2 anytime) could also miss tonight's clash with Valencia as the winger is suffering from back problems.
Cristiano's potential absence would add a further blow to the news that Gonzalo Higuain is expected to miss two months through injury, and anyone interested in backing a Real scorer would then have to look at the improving Benzema (10/3 to score first, 7/2 anytime).
We can forgive Benzema for his performance in the Clasico, everyone in white was under par that night, but while he is making strides forward for club and country, he's not red hot and attention might e better served on the bigger priced Di Maria (5/1 to score first, 5/4 anytime) or Ozil (11/2 to score first, 6/4 anytime).
Valencia (11/2) have beaten Real Madrid a few times in recent years and given the potential injuries and certain suspensions Los Blancos must cope with, could take a point or more from this matchup.
Valencia did not impress me during their 2-1 home defeat of Almeria last weekend, but striker current Che and former Real Madrid striker Soldado did by netting a brace.
Soldado (8/1 to score first, 11/4 anytime) is full of confidence and will certainly want to prove a point to his former employers. Given that and the big price, he is a punt I recommend to you.
I do, however, expect Real Madrid to win this match, but I would prefer to hope for an upset rather than a reaction and have always been a man who likes to bet on scorers more than any other type of bet.
Recommendation: Soldado each way first scorer (8/1)
Worth a small punt: Double result of Valencia/Madrid (25/1)
Sunday, 5 December 2010
Almeria v Real Zaragoza, 16:00
Not the best, nor the easiest fixture to pick. Last weekend Almeria lost 2-1 away to Valencia, but looked nothing like a team that had been beaten 8-0 by Barcelona the previous weekend.
Almeria (5/4) did quite well against a shaky Los Che defense and bar the excellent finishing of Valencia striker Roberto Soldado, would have got something out of the game through Ulloa's late strike.
Along with Ulloa (5/1 to score first, 11/8 anytime), Uche (15/2 to score first, 2/1 anytime) offers Almeria's best chances of scoring, though the Nigerian has not netted one for a few a games.
Like Uche, he did not score in his last game, but Zaragoza's Bertolo (10/1 to score first, 11/4 anytime) was in good form prior to that and sounds like the best shout if you want to back a Zaragoza player tonight.
Backing Zaragoza (23/10) to win the 90 minute market is, however, an altogether different proposition as last week's 3-0 home demolition at the hands of Villarreal showed that Aguirre has a big job on his hands and will likely need more time to have any meaningful effect on his new team.
This game could be a draw (11/5) and I have to admit that's I'm not so sure about this, but if pushed I'd pick an Almeria win (5/4). If in doubt, bet in-play.
Getafe v Mallorca, 16:00
Well done to Michel and his Getafe (21/20) side who, after being a goal down away to Sevilla at half time, eventually beat the Rojiblancos 3-1. Such a result was certainly a surprise, but Sevilla do look shaky at the moment and the Azulones opponents tonight, 6th placed Mallorca, look pretty good and also beat Sevilla in Seville.
Of course, Mallorca's victory over Sevilla was the week before Getafe's: Last week Mallorca beat Malaga 2-0 with Pierre Webo (13/2 to score first, 7/4 anytime) and Castro (9/1 to score first, 5/2 anytime) their scorers.
Scoring for Getafe in their pre-mentioned away defeat of Sevilla were Manu (13/2 to score first, 7/4 anytime), Miku (11/2 to score first, 6/4 anytime) and Maestro Pedro Rios (12/1 to score first, 7/2 anytime) - Dare I say it, "the m and m's!"
Much less enticing than a packet of chocolate peanuts is choosing the outcome of this match. Getafe are the home team and the betting favourites at 21/20 so you'd expect them to win. But then Mallorca (5/2) have won in Valencia and Seville, along with sharing a point with Barca in the Nou Camp, so why shouldn't the Barralets win at Madrid's third club?
Mallorca may well be worth a punt to take all three points, but I prefer to bet on "Yes" (7/10) in the both teams to score market as I see it as the safest bet.
Recommendation: Both teams to score (7/10)
Espanyol v Sporting Gijon, 16:00
Despite having the shorter end of both the possession and shot count, Pochettino's Espanyol stunned the Vicente Calderon by beating Atletico 3-2 last weekend.
Amongst the goals were Luis Garcia (11/2 to score first, 6/4 anytime), Verdu and Pablo Osvaldo (7/2 to score first, evens anytime). Out of the three, it was particularly pleasing to see Osvaldo net one as he can become the regular option for the first scorer market in Espanyol games if he can notch the first today.
After defeating Mallorca and Atletico on the road - two teams who are usually formidable at home -it can no longer be considered a given that the Espanyol will lose or draw on their travels.
Back at home in Barcelona this afternoon, Espanyol (4/6) should have no problems defeating a Sporting team that has yet to win on their travels (4 defeats and 2 draws).
At home, however, Sporting (9/2) are usually decent but suffered a surprising 3-1 defeat to Real Sociedad last weekend: To be fair, they played well and only lost because of stoppage time goals in each half.
On the scoresheet for Sporting that day was Gregory (33/1 to score first, 10/1 anytime), a 30 year old defender who scores once or twice every season.
I won't be betting on him making it two goals in a row tonight, but I will be having a bet on "No" (4/6) in the both teams to score market as I just don't see Sporting netting one today.
Scorelines to consider are 1-0 and 2-0 to Espanyol (priced at 5/1 and 13/2 respectively) and should you fancy a punt in the double result market, Espanyol/Espanyol (8/5) sounds like the logical choice.
Recommendation: Espanyol (4/6)
Worth a punt: Osvaldo e/w first scorer (7/2)
Malaga v Racing Santander, 16:00
Two successive defeats have followed two successive victories for Pellegrini's boys. Last weekend the Anchovies lost 2-0 away to Mallorca, but put up a fight and lost to a team who are very good at home.
Disappointing, but not unexpected is a fair appraisal of that game. Now Malaga (21/20) must move on from their defeat and beat a Racing team who won this fixture 2-1 last season.
Portuguese free kick expert Sergio Duda (10/1 to score first, 11/4 anytime) is back from injury to aid the Malaga cause and, though he missed a penalty last weekend, Eliseu (8/1 to score first, 9/4 anytime) is a real threat on the flanks.
Through striker Marcus Rosenberg (6/1 to score first, 13/8 anytime), Racing (13/5) beat the ever improving Deportivo 1-0 in Santander last weekend and It's fair to say that I'd be going for a home win if this game was on their patch.
As this game is in Malaga, I'm going for a home win - Simple as that.
Recommendation: Malaga (21/20)
Villarreal v Sevilla, 18:00-Sky Sports 1
Admittedly, I made mistake by failing to recommend Villarreal in their away match with Zaragoza last weekend. I had a feeling that the game was going to end in 1-1 draw, and so shied away from the sensible pick.
The sensible pick was indeed the winner as a rampant Villarreal destroyed Zaragoza 3-0 with Goals from Senna, Cazorla (8/1 to score first, 9/4 anytime) and Nilmar (5/1 to score first, 11/8 anytime).
All three goals were good strikes, with Senna's so fast that the camera missed it. Anyway, besides the fact that I was totally burned on the both teams to score bet, I enjoyed seeing Senna (12/1 to score first, 7/2 anytime) back on form and think that he may be worth a punt to make it two goals in two games tonight.
Looking to do the same as Senna tonight will be Sevilla's Kanoute (15/2 to score first, 2/1 anytime), who scored the opener in the Rojiblancos shocking 3-1 home defeat to Getafe last Saturday.
After losing 2-1 at home to Mallorca last weekend, and facing a team that had been in miserable form, the prospect of Manzano's Sevilla (16/5) losing two consecutive homes games in a row seemed remote.
I'd started to consider a shock away win as kick off approached, but figured I should be honourable and stick with what I'd recommended - the double result of Sevilla/Sevilla.
I fully expected to win with Sevilla leading at the break, but they were nervy and mistake ridden and you could sense what would happen once Getafe equalized.
While it won't make picking Sevilla's fixture after this any easier, I'm glad that they are away to Juan Carlos Garrido's impressive Villarreal (4/5) because there is no decision to make in my eyes.
Recommendation: Villarreal (4/5)
Worth a punt: Senna to score first (12/1)
Real Sociedad v Athletic Bilbao, 20:00-Sky Sports 1
The first top flight Basque Derby in three years presents us with a fascinating clash that pits striker Llorente against striker Llorente!
No, the above is not a misprint. Athletic's Fernando Llorente (5/1 to score first, 11/8 anytime) is a regular in the Spanish squad and has nine La Liga goals to his name this season, while Sociedad's Joseba Llorente (also 5/1 to score first or 11/8 anytime) is a few years older, too injury prone to be considered for international duty, but is in good form and has four league goals to his name in the current campaign.
Fernando is the better player, no question, but both can score today and I feel compelled to have a punt on them doing so as anytime scorers doubled at 4/1.
In their 1-0 home defeat of Osasuna last weekend, Athletic (19/10) had to wait until injury time to score the winner through Gurpegi's header, while Sociedad (11/8) impressively defeated Sporting Gijon 3-1 at El Molinon after goals from Prieto (11/1 to score first, 3/1 anytime), Zurutuza (12/1 and 7/2) and Aranburu (18/1 and 5/1).
Notably, Bilbao are the only top flight side to have scored in every league game they've played this season - Given that and the fact that Sociedad have scored in every league home game this season, the "Yes" (8/13) option in the both teams to score market looks like the best bet.
Recommendation: Both teams to score (8/13)
Worth a punt: Llorente and Llorente as anytime scorers doubled (4/1)
Sunday double recommendation: Villarreal (4/5) and Espanyol (4/6)
Monday, 6 December 2010
Deportivo La Coruna v Hercules, 20:00-Sky Sports Extra (online)
Sadly Deportivo's revival came a cropper at the hands of Racing last week as the Santander based club won 1-0. It was of disappointment to me as, bar the possibility of a Depor win, I'd taken a punt on 0-0.
A 0-0 scoreline (7/1) is always worth consideration when Lotina's Deportivo are playing, but their opponents at the Riazor tonight, 13th placed Hercules (12/5), usually score on their travels.
Chief culprit to net for the visitors is Nelson Valdez (7/1 to score first, 15/8 anytime), who scored a brace in Hercules 3-1 home defeat of Levante last weekend.
Should you fancy an alternative scorer, David Trezeguet (6/1 to score first, 13/8 anytime) also scored for Hercules last weekend but, notably, has never scored away from home for the Alicante based club.
Staying with scoring and under 2.5 goals (8/15) appears to be the logical choice in the over/under market. I'd expect both teams to score (21/20), but consider it dicey and not worth the risk as Depor are very capable of drawing blanks.
Hercules are a good team to watch but, apart from their amazing 2-0 defeat of Barcelona in the Nou Camp, they have failed to win away from home in La Liga this season.
As much as I'd like to suggest a draw, that statistic means you should probably go for a home win here (5/4). By what score I'm not sure, but I fancy Valdez to net one for Hercules so 2-1 Deportivo (17/2) could be a worthy punt.
Enjoy the action and don't forget that William Hill offer more than 100 in-play markets for you to choose from.