Wednesday's La Liga previews
Atletico Madrid v Xerez, 19:00
Last weekend threw up a few unexpected results; thankfully Los Colchoneros three-nil defeat away to Espanyol was not one of them. Tonight Atletico (4/11) are expected to take all three points against a Xerez (8/1) side that must win if they are to avoid relegation.
Ok, so it's been do or die for Xerez in every game for weeks, but with Valladolid and Tenerife surprisingly winning last night, this clash cannot be termed as anything else.
Bermejo (8/1 to score first, 9/4 anytime) blew a great chance to score in Xerez's one nil home defeat at the hands of Getafe last weekend, but is key to their chances tonight and must therefore get a mention.
I was correct in avoiding backing Forlan (11/4 to score first, 4/5 anytime) last time out, but would suggest that you consider backing him this time given the opposition. He does look knackered though, and it's no surprise given the amount of games he's played.
The less productive Kun Aguero (3/1 to score first, 5/6 anytime) has also played a little too often, though less so than his Uruguayan team mate. Much fresher is former Lanus attacker Eduardo Salvio (11/2 to score first, 6/4 anytime) who impressed in his cameo substitute appearance last Sunday.
Ripe for defeat on their travels against anyone half useful, Atletico are a very different beast at home and you'd have to fancy them to beat Xerez today. The visitors will be drained of confidence but have been in that position before, and responded.
Time for some confusing logic now! I think Atletico will win but I don't want to see it happen and will instead back Xerez (8/1) to take all three points!
It's strange to suggest a likely loser, no doubt. Take the sensible bet of Atletico (4/11) if you like, but I love the underdog and do not want to spoil my viewing. You never know, Valladolid and Tenerife did it, so why can't Xerez?
Osasuna v Malaga, 19:00
Ten man Osasuna scored at the beginning and end of their two-nil home defeat of Zaragoza last weekend, and will fancy their chances of another three points when seventeenth placed Malaga visit Pamplona.
What I have to question is whether Osasuna (10/11) consider themselves safe from relegation now that they are eleven points clear of the danger zone. I can't be sure until I've watched some of the game so I will bet In-Play.
Anyone who wants to trust Osasuna pre match will be buoyed by the news that the team has won their last two games at home, and face a Malaga (3/1) side that has lost their last four away games, failing to score in three of them.
Based on that logic, only Osasuna to score (2/1) and the less rewarding but theoretically safer bet of no (4/5) in the both teams to score markets are suitable bets.
The Anchovies of William Hill currently occupy seventeenth position, only two points ahead of Tenerife who won last night. Malaga badly need to win and history says that they have a good chance.
Osasuna have not beaten Malaga in Pamplona since 1990. Two nil was the scoreline and, given that Osasuna have kept clean sheets in each of their last two home games, that correct score bet could be worth consideration in today's game; it is priced at 15/2. Still, twenty years is a long time and the team looking to make it twenty-one needs the win more.
I would like to see Malaga win (3/1) but will only bet In-Play on the potential outcome. If I had to choose a pre-match bet, it would be under 2.5 goals (13/20).
Racing Santander v Espanyol, 19:00
I thought that Racing would win in A Coruna last weekend but changed my mind to a draw when I heard that Canales was missing, and that Deportivo coach Lotina was going to freshen up his seemingly re-motivated team. Unfortunately I only learned of this news after my articles had been published.
Racing (23/20) went a goal down within a minute but managed an 85th minute equaliser to draw the game. They showed good heart last weekend but, as I have written many times before, are terrible at home with only two wins out of a possible fifteen.
They do, however, face an Espanyol (12/5) team that may consider there selves safe from relegation after their three-nil home defeat of Atletico last weekend. You must also consider that Espanyol are very poor on the road, winning only once.
This is another game that I think requires bet In-Play evaluation before deciding on the outcome. Espanyol fan Terry is a regular reader and often adds his thoughts to the comments section, maybe he can tell us what he thinks about tonight's game?
Real Zaragoza v Mallorca, 19:00
In danger of being relegated vs in danger of qualifying for the Champions League. Zaragoza are half reasonable at home, Mallorca (9/4) are terrible away from home.
Your writer is extremely tired as he writes this report, so let's just say that I think the team that needs it most wins, though not by much.
Zaragoza are priced at 5/4 to win in ninety minutes, or temptingly 17/5 in the match x goals market (to win) with under 2.5 goals scored in the game.
You can always bet In-Play if you're not sure of the outcome.
Barcelona v Deportivo La Coruna, 21:00 - Sky Sports 2
An enjoyable Clasico resulted in a two nil win for Barca, with Messi (7/4 to score first, 4/11 anytime, 5/2 two or more and 7/1 for another hat-trick) and Pedro (7/2 to score first, 10/11 anytime) the scorers. Everyone must have read about or watched the game by now, so I'll save my weary eyes from the task of telling you what you already know!
I will, however, speak of my pleasure of watching Xavi's match winning performance. We all know that he is the engine of the team, and arguably as important as Messi to the team's chances of beating top class opposition, but what a display in the home of Barcelona's hated rivals. His vision and composure was outstanding and he's in such good form that the injury to Iniesta has not distressed fans as much as you might think it would.
Where Iniesta's absence could be felt is during Barca's Champions League games with Inter Milan. Especially when you consider that the (seemingly) best way to stop Barca is to stop Xavi from dictating play. Iniesta is true world class and would have given Barca another option to run things, retaining and distributing possession with a mixture of vision, balance and eye catching skill.
You can man mark Xavi, but I don't think you can man mark Messi. Maybe Mourinho has other ideas, but the smart money says that he applies that tactic to the former. One or two teams have done it in Spain so he knows it can be done. Lots of kicking in store for Xavi then!
Stopping the Catalan winning machine was discussed by punters in the comments section of my Clasico preview, so to round up the talk here is my (too large to publish at the time) response:
"I think that only the highest class of attacking team, like Arsenal in their undefeated season, could match and outscore Barca over 2 legs. Defensive football with a lot of possession is the best option for lesser teams (and who's on a par as a unit?). Mourinho will employ tactics similar to Hiddink and Chelsea last year, certainly in the Nou Camp"
Barcelona (1/9) are now four points clear of Real Madrid and will have no problems in defeating Deportivo (18/1) tonight. Further consideration is not required in the 90 minutes market.
There are 178 different pre-match markets available in this game so pick your poison, and don't forget that you can bet In-Play with William Hill Online.