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Jonathan Cordingley 22nd Sep 2010 - 9:12

Wednesday's La Liga previews

Almeria v Levante, 19:00

Juan Manuel Lillo's Almeria (4/5) lost 1-0 away to Espanyol at the weekend, a result that should surprise nobody. Why's this you might ask? Put simply, both teams win most of their home games.

It should not therefore be of any surprise to see who I'm picking to win this game. Both teams will be tired and Levante (7/2) will gain a point sooner or later, but I don't see them getting one today and will back against them until that happens.

Three games played, three games lost. Ten goals have been conceded in those games with only three in reply. Levante have notably scored in each of those games so yes (10/11) in the both teams to score market has merit.

Recommendation: Almeria (4/5)


Barcelona v Sporting Gijon, 19:00-Sky Sports 3

Credit to Barcelona for ending their three year Primera Liga losing streak at the Vicente Calderon last Sunday. They controlled the game and if not for the outstanding display of Atletico keeper De Gea, would have won by about five or six goals.

Amongst the goals in Barca's win was Lionel Messi, finishing coolly from about eight yards out. As I'm sure anyone who is reading this will be aware, due to Atletico defender Ujfalusi's tackle, FIFA World Player of the year Messi will be out of action for at least two games.

Messi's absence from our TV screens is a big blow to everyone but fans of Barca's opposition and, of course, Real Madrid! We can, however, still enjoy the delights of Barcelona's attractive possession football and David Villa (7/4 to score first, 4/11 anytime) can certainly take over the role as central striker against Sporting tonight.

Gijon (20/1) should fight hard as a collective and Miguel De Las Cuevas (20/1 to score first, 7/1 anytime) scored in Sporting's 2-2 home draw with Athletic last time out, but they should prove to be no opposition to Xavi and co.

As you would expect, there is no value in backing Barca half time/full time (4/9) or in the 90 minute market (1/10). Though I will wait to see the strength of Barca's line up before betting on this, a punt I can suggest is Barcelona - 2 goals (13/10).


Real Zaragoza v Hercules, 19:00

If they can win in the Nou Camp, they should be able to win anywhere; a theory that you could use to justify backing Hercules in away games. It's not, however, a theory that will work very often, but it has a good chance of coming off tonight.

Hercules (11/4) lost 2-1 at home to Valencia last weekend, a game which looked near certain to end in a draw after Los Che were reduced to ten men early in the second half.

Credit must go to Valencia for such resolute defending, but credit must also go to David Trezeguet (13/2 to score first, 15/8 anytime) for scoring his first goal for Hercules - albeit from the penalty spot.

Besides drawing with Deportivo in the opening weekend, Zaragoza (evens) have lost all of their fixtures so far: 5-3 at home to Malaga and 2-0 away to Racing.

However, it must be said that Zaragoza harshly had a goal ruled out at 0-0 in Santander and had shown some improvement in team play overall. Tonight I expect Zaragoza are either going to try too hard and lose, or get their first win of the season.

At even money for Zaragoza, I'm going to take a chance on the upset and think that 1-0 to Hercules (priced at 9/1) is worth consideration if you are looking for a scoreline. With Nelson Valdez out of this game through injury, Trezeguet appears the likely scorer and can be backed at 55/1 to compliment the 1-0 correct score.

Worth a punt: Hercules (11/4)


Valencia v Atletico Madrid, 21:00-Sky Sports 3

Quique Sanchez Flores will want to get one over on his former club Valencia, but over 2.5 goals (13/20) and yes in the both teams to score market (4/7) usually prove to be more reliable bets than Atletico winning this fixture.

Winning is, however, a realistic possibility for Atletico (13/5) tonight, but three of the last four league meetings between these two at the Mestalla have ended in 3-1 victories for Los Che; last season saw a 2-2 draw played out.

Los Colchoneros could hardly get the ball in their 2-1 home defeat against Barca, and I could see that I was going to be wrong in recommending an Atletico win not long into the game.

With hindsight, expecting Barcelona to lose two in a row was asking too much but I felt I had to go for the upset pre - match given the history of that fixture.

Asking World Cup Golden Ball winner Diego Forlan not to score for two games in a row is possibly also too much given his recent form. Tonight Atletico's Uruguayan is priced at 13/2 to score the first goal or, should you prefer, 15/8 to net one at anytime.

Diego's striker partner, Argentine Kun Aguero, will not play in this match due to injury. I would expect that fact to tilt punters towards Unai Emery's Valencia (11/10) in the 90 minute market.

Valencia are the only team left in the Primera Liga that still have a 100% record. Sunday's 2-1 away win over Hercules was particularly impressive given that Los Che played most of the second half with ten men after Navarro's sending off.

Mata (15/8 anytime scorer) and Pablo (11/4 anytime scorer) were the scorers in Alicante, but strikers Soldado (6/1 to score first, 7/4 anytime) and Aduriz (11/2 to score first, 6/4 anytime) also deserve your attention as potential scorers today.

I must conclude by saying that I can't clearly pick the 90 minute market in this game (though I would favour a home win if pushed) but envisage an entertaining game with good bet in-play opportunities.

Recommendation: both teams to score (4/7)

Worth a punt: Forlan e/w first scorer (13/2)

Enjoy the action and don't forget that you can bet in-play with William Hill Online.


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