Weekend Spanish La Liga Previews
Both teams played on Wednesday, but Sporting have the advantage of fresher players after resting most of their starting eleven for the 1-0 away defeat to Barcelona.
Resting most of your players when visiting the Nou Camp is nothing new for small teams, but Sporting (12/5) did an excellent job of holding Barca to a single goal - not many teams will do that.
Anyone looking for a goal from a Sporting player tonight might want to consider Miguel De Las Cuevas (8/1 to score first, 11/4 anytime), who is their best player.
Aduriz (5/1 to score first, 5/4 anytime) secured a draw for Valencia with a textbook header against Atletico at the Mestalla; a game in which Los Che deserved all three points.
Valencia (6/5) are clearly missing the midfield distribution of Ever Banega, but have shown tremendous steel and determination in this busy three game week of Primera Liga action.
In the 90 minute market, I doubt that determination will be enough for Valencia to win tonight but it could be enough for them to gain a point. However, before you back the draw (11/5), consider that Sporting are good at home and Valencia have to play Manchester United in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Calling this match is a tough; if you are not put off by prices less than even money, I'd suggest you consider the double chance bet of Sporting or draw (4/6).
Worth a punt: Draw (11/5)
Well, the betting logic used with these two teams in the midweek matches has now been thrown into question as Levante (11/1) gained their first win of the season and Real Madrid (1/4) beat Espanyol by more than two goals.
Levante have goalkeeper Reina to thank for a string of impressive saves to deny Almeria on Wednesday night. Also impressive was former Deportivo midfielder Sergio (33/1 to score first, 12/1 anytime), who scored the game's only goal with a powerful finish into the top left corner.
Real's 3-0 defeat of Espanyol came courtesy of goals from Ronaldo (9/4 to score first, 1/2 anytime), Higuain (5/2 to score first, 4/7 anytime) and Benzema (7/2 to score first, 10/11 anytime).
Despite getting to see three goals from Real Madrid, I found it terribly boring watching them on Tuesday night and don't expect this to be any different until Mourinho leaves.
Jose is a winner and, despite Levante brimming with confidence after gaining their first points of the season midweek, should win tonight. But how much will Real win by? One (13/5) of two (11/4) goal margin of victory punts cannot be bet on with the same amount of confidence that they could have been prior to Tuesday's match, but they are still valid offerings due to Los Blancos previous results.
With permanently short prices on offer on markets relating to Real, I cannot recommend Real Madrid/Real Madrid (4/6) in the double result market with great confidence as that bet would have only won once so far this season and short priced losers gain far more criticism than larger priced losers in betting circles.
Handicaps are also difficult to assess at the moment, so the best value punts I can currently suggest are Draw/Madrid (3/1) in the double result market and the shorter priced Ronaldo scores first and Real win (13/5). Take your pick and also consider the massive longshot listed below:
Worth a very small punt: Sergio to score first (33/1)
Basque giants Bilbao (9/2) score three in a game and none of the scorers are called Llorente; not something you will read often about Athletic, but exactly what happened in Tuesday evening's 3-0 home defeat of Mallorca.
The scorers in that game were David Lopez, former Liverpool defender San Jose Dominguez and Perez. I would not expect those three to score many goals this season and hence will not list their prices today.
I will, however, list Llorente's scorer prices (15/2 to score first, 9/4 anytime) as the big man is always relevant to betting opportunities regarding Athletic matches and must therefore at least be considered for a punt; even f he didn't score in their last game.
David Villa (5/2 to score first, 4/7 anytime) did score in Barca's last game - a paint drying 1-0 win over Sporting's reserves on Wednesday night - and with Messi injured, is probably Barca's most likely scorer tonight.
Hopefully Bojan will be left on the San Mames away bench, allowing the more talented Pedro (11/2 to score first, 6/4 anytime) a chance to, once again, show us what he can do in front of goal.
Besides Barca looking like World beaters one game and average the next, there is sufficient doubt that they will not win this game due to the history of the fixture.
In two of the last three years, this game has ended 1-1 (15/2 for a repeat). Why should this scoreline not reoccur tonight you might ask? Well, although they won, Barcelona rarely have two bad games in a row and their display against Sporting was lethargic at best.
Barcelona (8/13) obviously miss Messi, but they could come out of the blocks really quickly and pin Athletic back. Bilbao do, however, have something Barca don't in a giant target man; this should make for interesting viewing.
To be honest, though I'm tempted to pick a draw (11/4) in the 90 minute market, I think it's much safer to bet on the in-play market after 10-15 minutes so it can be properly evaluated what the chances of Barca being frustrated are.
Worth a punt: Villa and Llorente as anytime scorers doubled (9/2)
Worth a very small punt: Llorente scores first and 1-1 draw (60/1)
Deportivo La Coruna v Almeria, 16:00
Thursday night saw draw kings Deportivo (11/10) lose for the first time this season: 1-0 away to Villarreal. Prior to that, the Galacians had drawn all of their Primera Liga matches (3 in total).
Almeria (13/5) surprisingly lost by the same score at home to Levante. It's fair to say that Juan Manuel Lillo's team deserved at least a point - something they didn't get because of the superb goalkeeping of Levante keeper Reina.
Lillo will look for a reaction from his dejected team today, but Almeria are usually defeated on the road; 1-0 to Espanyol last time out.
Should you fancy a Deportivo scorer: Guardado (9/1 to score first, 10/3 anytime) scored twice in their 2-2 Monday night draw with Getafe, though they were both penalties.
If you prefer an Almeria scorer: Pablo Piatti (15/2 to score first, 9/4 anytime) has not scored in two games, but was very unlucky not to bag one during the Levante defeat.
Depor will win sooner or later (sooner if you follow the pattern of Osasuna and Levante getting their first wins midweek), but Almeria should try a little harder than normal and I fancy another draw.
Recommendation: Draw (11/5)
Espanyol v Osasuna, 16:00
Pochettino's Espanyol (6/5) fought hard but got nothing in their 3-0 away defeat to Real Madrid on Tuesday. Back at home today, and despite a couple of suspensions, the Catalans will strongly fancy their chances of beating Camacho's Osasuna.
You see, Osasuna (5/2) are poor travellers, simple as that. They do, however, have renewed confidence after beating Real Sociedad 3-1 in the midweek fixtures. Personally, I am not reading much into that.
The, previously reported, absence of Pablo Osvaldo puts enough doubt into who will score for Espanyol. Potential candidates are: Callejon (6/1 to score first, 7/4 anytime), Luis Garcia (15/2 to score first, 9/4 anytime) and the other (non - related) Garcia, Sergio (11/2 to score first, 6/4 anytime).
On paper, the most likely Osasuna scorer - should you fancy one - is El Rifle: Walter Pandiani, who scored in their midweek game. Today he is priced at 13/2 to score first or 15/8 to net one at anytime.
For potential scorelines: I like 1-0 (priced at 11/2) and to a slightly lesser extent, 2-1 to Espanyol (8/1) just in case Walter bags one for the visitors.
Recommendation: Espanyol (6/5)
Mallorca v Real Sociedad, 16:00
Michael Laudrup gained his first win at home to Osasuna a week ago, but saw his team beaten 3-0 away to Bilbao days later. Mallorca suffered a little misfortune with Bilbao's opener coming via a player slipping as he kicked the ball, but few people will have expected the islanders to do anything other than lose in Basque country.
Basque county is also where today's opponents are from: Real Sociedad (14/5) lost 3-1 away to a motivated Osasuna side midweek, but will take pleasure in the form of Raul Tamudo (7/1 to score first, 2/1 anytime) who scored first in Pamplona.
Four goals in a row is a lot to ask from Tamudo, but he's scored just about everywhere throughout his long career and is probably worth a punt today.
This very, very small punt suggestion is definitely pushing it: Tamudo to score first and Mallorca to win 2-1 (priced at a whopping 105/1); its worth risking a pound on at that price I reckon!
I expect Mallorca (evens) to win and think that if Sociedad were to draw a blank, 1-0 and 2-0 to Mallorca (priced at 6/1 and 17/2 respectively) sound like decent scoreline suggestions.
Recommendation: Mallorca (evens)
Worth a pound scorecast: Tamudo to score first and Mallorca to win 2-1 (105/1).
Racing Santander v Getafe, 16:00
For betting purposes, it was a pity that Racing could not beat Sevilla on Thursday night. They certainly had enough chances to win, but a draw is a good result for them nevertheless.
Racing (7/5) will expect more than a draw tonight and given that Getafe (2/1) are low on confidence after their 2-0 home defeat to Malaga midweek, the home team wins seems to be the pick here.
There are no standout, consistent goalscorers on offer in this match but Pinillos (40/1 to score first, 16/1 anytime) scored Los Verdiblancos goal in Seville and Arizmendi (7/1 to score first, 2/1 anytime) scored for Getafe in their game last weekend.
Arizmendi was given a worth a punt tag in Thursdays previews mainly because I couldn't decide whether or not go for the upset Malaga win. There was merit to his recommendation though as he had been scoring consistently in previous games. However, no goal against Malaga means he's been sent to the naughty corner and I will avoid him today - Just my 2 cents though, you may think differently.
Recommendation: Racing (7/5)
Hercules v Sevilla, 18:00-Second half on Sky Sports 1
It's a pity Hercules could not win at Zaragoza in the midweek Primera Liga games, but they did have their chances to do just that in a 50/50 game that ended in a 0-0 stalemate.
They should get a few chances against Sevilla (5/4) today, but this game is not an easy pick because tightrope walking Rojiblancos coach Alvarez is in a charge of a Sevilla side that seems to struggle at home but win away.
Indeed, Sevilla's wingers and strikers - whoever they might be on the day - are running amuck when the team take to the road, yet running into dead ends in the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Because of this, I feel I have to recommend a 90 minute Sevilla win today. As to who scores from Sevilla, I feel nobody is currently worth recommendation but acknowledge that Negredo (5/1 to score first, 5/4 anytime) has merit due to netting a penalty Sevilla's 1-1 draw with Racing on Thursday night.
Should you read nothing into the pattern that I have just descried and instead fancy a Hercules (11/4) win, Frenchman David Trezeguet (7/1 to score first, 2/1 anytime) is seemingly your best option to score for them.
Recommendation: Sevilla (5/4)
Atletico Madrid v Real Zaragoza, 20:00-Sky Sports 1
Column favourite Diego Forlan (10/3 to score first, 4/5 anytime) has been sent into the naughty corner for failing to score two games in a row. Until he starts scoring again, I won't be backing him. Great player but a rule's a rule, two strikes and you're out in my book.
You may disagree and fancy Diego to score today. If you do, also consider Simao (13/2 to score first, 15/8 anytime) who rounded off a brilliant, speedy counter attack by scoring Atleti's goal in their hard fought 1-1 draw with Valencia.
Czech defender Ujfalusi was not available to play in the Mestalla on Wednesday night, nor will he be today due to the suspension he received for injuring Messi last weekend.
Kun Aguero could also miss tonight's game - through injury in his case - but Los Colchoneros should still beat a gun shy, winless Zaragoza (11/2) team who drew 0-0 at home to Hercules midweek.
However, crazy as it sounds, I have concerns that winless Zaragoza might spring a surprise tonight and will instead opt to bet in-play. If you think I'm nuts to consider anything other than an easy home win, you may want to mull over Atletico/Atletico in the double result market - priced at 11/8.
At 20:00 UK time, the live on Sky video Monday night tradition continues as Jesualdo Ferreira's Malaga attempt to build on Thursdays win at Getafe when they take on the Yellow Submarines of Villarreal at La Rosaleda.
If Malaga (15/8) are to build on their second away win of the season, then they must pick up points on a home ground where they have played two and lost two so far this season.
A 100% away record coupled with a 0% record at home is a bizarre start for a middling team in a league where home advantage usually counts for so much. Of course, given that The Anchovies lost to Valencia (3-1) and Sevilla (2-1), you could just argue that Malaga have been beaten by two of the top five teams in the league.
Perhaps strength of opposition is to blame for Malaga's home start. One would assume that they are not folding under the pressure of their home fans expectations as the team are not subjected to booing when not ahead, and that is often a factor with other teams that follow a similar pattern.
Ferreria does have speedy wingers in Eliseu (11/1 to score first, 4/1 anytime) and Quincy Owusu - Abeyie (15/2 to score first, 9/4 anytime) and they have certainly helped when counter attacking away from home.
Attacking is something Malaga's young Venezuelan, Rondon (13/2 to score first, 15/8 anytime), has been doing well as he has scored the first goal in each of his last two games.
Scoring more prolifically than anyone else taking to the pitch today is Villarreal's Brazilian forward, Nilmar (9/2 to score first, 6/5 anytime), who has treated us to some outstanding finishing recently, currently topping the Pichichi charts as a consequence.
Nilmar scored the only goal in Villarreal's 1-0 home defeat of Deportivo on Thursday night, but teammate Giuseppe Rossi (5/1 to score first, 5/4 anytime) should also be considered due to his undoubted talent.
Villarreal (6/4) are a team with undoubted attacking talent, but besides beating Levante away from home last weekend, are usually very poor on their travels.
Some of you may fancy the home team wins theory tonight, others may fancy Villarreal. Due to form of Nilmar, I think travel shy Villarreal will gain a point.
For potential scorelines: I like the look of 1-1 (priced at 6/1) and, to a slightly lesser extent, 2-2 (14/1 price).
Given that that every Monday night La Liga game played so far this season has produced exactly four goals, it might be worth considering the same number in tonight's game should you believe in such things - available at 5/1.
Finally, for anybody who likes the both teams to score market: Yes (4/6) seems the likely winner tonight but should you disagree, no can be backed at 11/10.
Recommendation: Draw (11/5)
Worth a punt: Nilmar first scorer (9/2)
Enjoy the action and don't forget that you can bet in-play with William Hill Online.