LA LIGA returns from its winter break this weekend so we got Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) to find the best bets from Spain.
Elche v Villarreal | Saturday 19.00 | Sky Sports 5
Villarreal finished 2014 with five straight La Liga wins, their best run of form since 2010. That 15 points lifted Marcelino’s side up to seventh and just a point off the Champions League qualifying places.
The Yellow Submarine are rated 17/20 (William Hill) shots to make it six wins on the spin when they travel to rock bottom Elche and it’s a price worth taking. Villarreal’s W4-D3-L1 record on the road makes them the best team to back away from home after the Big Three.
What’s more, Marcelinho’s men are scoring goals and keeping clean sheets. Real Madrid are the only side to shut the Yellow Submarine out in 13 league outings now whilst four of their last five victories were recorded without a goal conceded. They’ve already kept half their opponents scoreless in half of their away games this season.
Hosts Elche failed to pick up a point in their four matches before Christmas, failing to score in three of those outings. It means they’ve now lost 10 of their 16 La Liga games in 2014/15 with boss Fran Escriba running out of time to save his job.
Sure, they’ve had a tough run of games at home with six of their eight matches at the Martínez Valero coming against top-half teams but their W1-D2-L5 record is the second worst in the league. And they’ve been scoreless in four of those eight fixtures.
But even more concerning for home supporters is the rate at which they’re shipping goals. Elche have leaked 32 already this season at an averaging rate of exactly two goals-per-game. Not ideal when you’re gearing up for a visit from the likes of Luciano Vietto, Ikechukwu Uche, Giovani dos Santos, Denis Cheryshev and Moi Gomez.
Valencia v Real Madrid | Sunday 16.00 | Sky Sports 5
Real Madrid picked up World Club Cup honours the week before Christmas and now Carlo Ancelotti’s side return to league action with a point advantage at the top of the table and a game in hand.
Next up is a visit to Valencia and Bet365 have made Los Blancos an attractive 19/20 with a -1 Asian Handicap start. This means, should Madrid only win by a single goal, we’ll get our money back. But if the European champions win by a margin of two goals or more, we’ll be in profit.
Ancelotti’s star-studded squad have won 12 of their 15 La Liga matches by a margin of two goals or more and racked up an incredible 55 goals during those games. The capital club have won their last five trips to Valencia, scoring at least three goals in each victory.
Valencia have improved dramatically under Nuno Espirito Santo and can point towards an excellent record at the Mestalla this season but Madrid are a cut above the rest at the moment and should prove far too good for their hosts.
Real Sociedad v Barcelona | Sunday 20.00 | Sky Sports 5
Later on Sunday, Barcelona head to the Basque Country to take on David Moyes’ Real Sociedad. And it’s Moyes’ boys who make most appeal with 22/23 (BetVictor) available to back La Real with a +1.5 Asian Handicap start. Backing this selection means we’ll have a winner should Sociedad stay within one-goal of their visitors.
Anoeta has always proved a difficult place for visiting sides to come and get a result. Looking at La Real’s results from 2011/12 against both Barcelona and Real Madrid and we can see that the hosts have W3-D2-L2 and only once losing by two goals or more.
Throw in Atletico Madrid since Diego Simeone took charge and that record then reads just one defeat by a margin of two goals or more in 11 games against La Liga’s best at Anoeta. And they’ve already beaten both Atleti and Real on home soil this season.
I’ve also looked at Barca’s results from 2011/12 away to top-half teams and we can see that whilst they managed to win 18/30 (60%) of those fixtures, they were only victorious by two goals or more in 8/30 (27%), meaning we have a decent value bet on our hands with Sociedad +1.5 at 22/23.
Elche v Villarreal – Villarreal to win (17/20 William Hill)
Valencia v Real Madrid – Real Madrid -1 Asian Handicap (19/20 Bet365)
Real Sociedad v Barcelona – Real Sociedad +1.5 Asian Handicap (22/23 BetVictor)