Wednesday's Spanish La Liga previews
As is this case at this time of the season, both teams need to win but for very different reasons.
Eighth placed Athletic (4/5) are, at the time of writing, two points behind sixth placed Villarreal and the final Europa League qualifying berth.
Seventeenth placed Malaga (7/2) are level on points with eighteenth placed Tenerife, and if not for a technicality would have swapped places with the Islanders on Saturday night.
Malaga won both games with Tenerife; 1-1 at home, 2-2 away. The away result gives them the edge if both finish level on points.
On Saturday night, Malaga blew a great opportunity to pull away from Tenerife and the rest when failing to beat a there for the taking Sporting Gijon in La Rosaleda.
The Anchovies had several opportunities to take the lead in the first half but could not capitalise. They did, however, open the scoring before the break as Apono headed into his own goal!
Malaga recovered to secure a draw through on-loan striker Felipe Caicedo (7/1 to score first, 15/8 anytime) who seems to have developed a habit of scoring late goals; 5/2 is available for anyone who fancies a Malaga goal between the 76th minute and full time tonight.
It came as no surprise to Thomas Burdett, a friend of mine, but Athletic losing 3-1 at home to Mallorca was not on the cards in my eyes. I considered the draw as Athletic were shaky and neither Llorente (4/1 to score first, 11/10 anytime) or Toquero had scored recently. Defeat at San Mames to a travel shy team that appeared to be slipping-surely not I thought!
Ah well, maybe Malaga can get a draw (5/2) tonight? Maybe Senor Burdett fancies another shock in Basque county?
All I know is that the best bet appears to be yes in the both teams to score market (4/5).
As predicted, Atletico fielded an even weaker team than normal when they lost 3-1 away to Sevilla at the weekend.
With key players rested and despite their only interested in cup competition attitude, will Quique Sanchez Flores be tempted to field a full strength side this evening?
I doubt it, but can't be sure until about half an hour before kickoff. In the meantime I will draw your attention to Javier Clemente's Valladolid and their interesting recent record.
Since taking over, Javier Clemente is undefeated in five games. He has drawn at Tenerife, won in Seville, drawn at Malaga, won in Gijon and drawn with Getafe. Spot the pattern?
I was looking towards an away win regardless, but must add slight caution in the fact that Valladolid (5/2) struggle to score goals, particularly away from home.
The three games that Clemente has drawn have all ended 0-0. If Atletico were not involved today I would certainly have had a punt on 0-0; I honestly can't remember the last time a game involving Los Colchoneros was scoreless!
As it's not clear who will start for Atletico (11/10) while considering that Valladolid do not have a reliable striker, I would give the scorers market a wide berth tonight; you should be able to bet in-play on that market anyway.
Atletico definitely tried harder in their last game at home, the 3-1 defeat of Tenerife, but face a team who must win tonight. I therefore go for a Valladolid win (5/2).
If it was the case, the Pamplonans could not earn any cash incentives offered to them in their 3-2 defeat at the Bernabeu last weekend.
However, they did play fantastically well on one of the biggest stages a football player can play on and must, therefore, be given credit. A goal each for Aranda (5/1 to score first, 11/8 anytime) and Vadocz (11/4 anytime scorer) twice put Osasuna ahead and they really should have added more and gone on to realistically end Real Madrid's title hopes.
Strangely Walter Pandiani (4/1 to score first, 11/10 anytime) was not even in the squad; maybe he returns fresh and bangs one in today.
Even if the Uruguayan front man does not feature, you have to continue backing against Deportivo; safe from relegation they've been losing and occasionally drawing for months!
Osasuna are not yet fully clear of potential relegation so I think Osasuna wins tonight and probably to nil (6/5).
No in the both teams to score market (4/6), along with only Osasuna to score (6/4) should also be considered.
Without hesitation or pause for thought, my best bet recommendation is a 90 minute Osasuna win (7/10).
With Barcelona due to visit Seville at the weekend you would expect The Rojiblancos to go all guns blazing in Santander tonight.
However, Racing (9/4) must also throw caution to the wind as they are not yet safe from relegation; sounds like an entertaining game to me, and one in which over 2.5 goals looks good at 19/20.
On-loan striker and Kevin Keegan favourite Xisco scored Racing's goal in their 2-1 defeat away to Tenerife on Saturday. It was, however, a rare strike from a player who often warms the bench.
Sevilla (23/20) easily beat Atletico 3-1 at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, with Brazillian striker Fabiano (7/2 first scorer, evens anytime) opening the scoring early on. Out of form and confidence, Alvaro Negredo surprisingly made the difference with two penalties.
In this game my best bet recommendation is both teams to score (8/11).
Zaragoza earned me a few quid by winning in A Coruna last weekend. Tonight they host an Espanyol team who will consider their selves safe from relegation.
Coach Pochettino will say otherwise, but with eighteenth placed Tenerife having lost to Barcelona half an hour after I write this preview, you have to assume that Espanyol's players will likely take to the field with a less than determined mindset.
Espanyol (19/5) did win their last away game in Almeria, but that was because of a stunning Luis Garcia (9/1 to score first, 5/2 anytime) free kick. It has to be said that the Catalans have been very poor on their travels this season, compiling a record of two wins, five draws and ten defeats.
Goals cannot be counted on today as Zaragoza (8/11) will potentially be missing Humberto Suazo and Espanyol have nobody in red hot form.
If I had to choose a scorer it would be Colunga (9/2 to score first, 5/4 anytime), who has been in great form recently.
They will probably make it hard for their selves, but I think Zaragoza will do enough to win (8/11).
Probably the most intriguing of Wednesday's fixtures and crucial for both teams; Mallorca need a win to guarantee staying in fourth position for the time being, while Real must take all three points to remain in contention for the league title.
Previously very poor away from home, Mallorca (9/2) somewhat surprisingly beat Athletic 3-1 in Bilbao on Sunday evening; goals from Castro, Nunes (10/1 anytime scorer) and former Athletic striker Aduriz (7/1 to score first, 15/8 anytime) ensured that three points went back to the Island.
Impressive stuff indeed from the Barralets and ideal preparation for the visit of the mighty, never say die Real Madrid (8/15).
Never say die is certainly the attitude of former FIFA World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo (5/2 to score first, 8/11 anytime and 4/1 to score 2 or more), for the Portuguese saved his teams season with an 89th minute winner at home to Osasuna at the weekend.
Los Blancos really should have lost that game but winning in such a manner will give the team a massive confidence boost for their visit to the Island tonight.
However, Real Madrid's defence has no confidence or for that matter concentration. Faults that may see their title homes effectively ended tonight if they're not careful.
My best bet recommendation is both teams to score (1/2).
Enjoy the action and don't forget that you can bet In-Play with William Hill Online.