Tuesday's Spanish La Liga previews
With only a solitary away win to their name, eighteenth placed Tenerife must pass the highly implausible task of beating Barcelona in the Nou Camp if they are to double their road win record and increased their chances of Primera League survival- Can it happen?
Well, I spent two full minutes considering possible justification for an upset and decided no! Tenerife need to win and are in winning form at home, but are obviously near useless away from the Island.
Evidence of the former came in Saturday night's 2-1 defeat of Racing, a game in which Tenerife went for the jugular straight from the off; 21 shots in total, with goals from Garcia and Roman winning the tie.
Speaking of Roman (25/1 to score first, 8/1 anytime), he's not good enough to call himself Caesar, nor can he be considered in the same league as another man who wore Roman on the back of his shirt in La Liga, but he's played well recently and has scored a goal in each of his last two games.
One of those goals was against Atletico in Madrid, a game in which I fully expected Tenerife to take advantage of Los Colchoneros cup distractions and take three points back to the Island.
Sadly Tenerife proved that they can't win when all of the circumstances are in their favour by putting in a pitiful first half performance, eventually losing the game 3-1.
Like Tenerife (25/1), but for very different reasons, Barcelona (1/16) must also win today. Had Ronaldo not scored an 89th minute winner for Real Madrid on Sunday night, I would have argued that the title race was over.
As a result of Cristiano's late goal, the gap between Barca and Real remains at one point. Tired as they may be, Barcelona's destiny is in their own hands and I fully expect them to take maximum points between now and the end of the season.
The Catalans survived a few early scares to take maximum points from El Madrigal on Saturday night, with Messi (7/4 to score first, 4/11 anytime or 15/8 to net two or more) back on form with a brace; Bojan (10/3 first scorer, 4/5 anytime) and Xavi completed the scoring in Barcelona's 4-1 defeat of Villarreal.
For someone carrying an injury, Xavi (8/1 to score first, 11/4 anytime) played very well and scored a fantastic free kick. Injured or not, his determination will not wane and he could prove to be a suitable longshot for anyone looking for a little more value in backing a Barca scorer.
As for the goals market, over 3.5 (4/6) is as close to a reasonable price as you can get without going overboard on the goals tally, but cannot be considered a banker. After all, both teams will be tired and Barca could be happy with a three nil win; perhaps that market is best to bet on In-Play.
While less rewarding price wise than the above, I've covered a three goal Barca win by taking Barcelona -2 goals (13/20); my most likely winner and recommendation.
Michel's Getafe held Javier Clemente's Valladolid to a draw at the weekend, a result that leaves the Madrid based side in seventh position and still well within contention for a Europa League berth.
For ten man Getafe (4/7), taking a point from in-form, relegation threatened Valladolid was a good result considering that many people (me included) expected Clemente's boys to edge it.
Sporting (5/1) halted a run of four successive defeats by surprisingly drawing 1-1 in Malaga at the weekend; an own goal gave Gijon the lead, but they really should have lost on the balance of play and scoring opportunities.
Today's visitors to the Alfonso Perez know that they need to win given that they are only three points off the relegation zone, and getting closer with teams like Tenerife winning every week.
Even so, Gijon have played without a care for some time and, despite their pre-mentioned draw in Malaga, will find it hard to snap out of their false mindset of considering their selves to be safe from playing in the Segunda division next season.
As for scorers or goal tallies: Michel's boy Adrian could prove to be just the ticket, as could impressive winger Pedro Leon. Both carry decent prices and are available, respectively, at 7/1 and 6/1 to score first or 15/8 and 13/8 anytime. Be warned that I'm just looking for value here, neither is prolific.
The over/under goals market is a nightmare at this time of year as, faced with must win or nothing to play for situations, many teams score more or less than you would expect them to.
I can't see the hosts slipping up today and will recommend a 90 minute Getafe win (4/7). If the price is too short for you, mix them in with another team or take Getafe/Getafe (11/8) in the double result market.
With Getafe expected to defeat Sporting, this is a must win game for The Yellow Submarines if they are to hold onto sixth position and remain in the final Europa League qualifying spot.
Despite defeat at Xerez last time out, Almeria (11/5) played ok in that match and are well aware that they must win their remaining home games if they are to guarantee Primera League safety.
After watching him spurn at hatful of guilt edged chances in recent games, in particular against Real Madrid a couple of weeks ago, I will certainly not be putting any money on Uche (6/1 to score first, 13/8 anytime) tonight.
Indeed it's hard to suggest a player for either team that is in good enough form to score tonight, though Villarreal's Llorente (11/2 to score first, 6/4 anytime) did score in the subs 4-1 home defeat at the hands of Barcelona.
I correctly advised you to ignore the calls of an upset when the World Champions visited El Madrigal at the weekend, but tonight must confess to not being sure of the outcome.
Two months ago this would have been a certain home win; Almeria were great at home and Villarreal pathetic away. Since then, Almeria have been losing home and away while Villarreal have managed a couple of away wins against weak opposition.
I have considered the draw (23/10) and also the double result bet of draw/Villarreal (9/2), but will nervously opt for a straight 90 minute Villarreal win (5/4). Bet in-play if you have doubts.
Predicting the outcome of nothing to play for Espanyol against terrible away from home Valencia was a roll of the dice type pick, and I was therefore not sure of the ninety minute result at the weekend.
As it happens, Valencia unexpectedly won 2-0 with a brace from 6ft 8 inch Serbian striker Nicola Zigic (7/2 to score first, 10/11 anytime in tonight's game). The perennial substitute had replaced the ineffective David Villa, and even had another goal ruled out (incorrectly) for offside.
Whether or not the big man starts tonight will not be clear until close to kickoff time but, as pointed out week after week in recent previews, David Villa (2/1 to score first, 2/5 anytime) is in terrible form and will once again not see my money risked on him tonight.
If I had to choose a scorer I would have a bet on Xerez's Bermejo (11/1 to score first, 4/1 anytime), who again came up trumps for Xerez by netting an injury time winner in their 2-1 defeat of Racing at the weekend.
As ever, Xerez must win today. Against a Valencia (1/4) team who, while excellent at home, are now guaranteed fourth place as a minimum, the chances of a Xerez win (9/1) are very strong tonight.
However, as a cautious man I will opt for handicap betting and take Xerez + 2 goals, priced at 5/6. For a smaller stake, I will again recommend Bermejo as an e/w scorer.
Enjoy the action and don't forget that you can bet In-Play with William Hill Online.