ONE losing bet from his last six weekend La Liga recommendations for Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire). His latest thoughts from the top tier in Spain make interesting reading…
Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid | Saturday 15.00
There’s a glut of top-class football this weekend but I’d argue that the biggest and best showdown across the planet won’t be televised. Yes, the nonsense rule of not allowing any live football on a Saturday from 14:30-15:15 will deprive the British public of what should be another classic Madrid derby.
Enough of politics then and onto the game in hand; it’s the sixth meeting between the city rivals this season. Those who’ve followed the fortunes of both Madrid clubs will be able to tell you that Diego Simeone’s hosts are unbeaten in seven games against their more illustrious neighbours now and yet again, the Mattress Makers look a touch overpriced.
Atleti opened around 9/4 but Wednesday’s midweek win over Sevilla came at a cost for Real with a number of players now missing for the trip to the Vicente Calderon. The Mattress Makers are now into best odds of 2/1 (Paddy Power) but I’m still willing to put my faith in the hosts.
Skipper Gabi is back from suspension and should partner Tiago in a bustling central midfield whilst Antoine Griezmann and Mario Mandzukic have taken their game up a notch following the return of Fernando Torres. Last weekend’s convincing win at Eibar was a timely reminder that Simeone’s side are a well-oiled machine that aren’t yet willing to surrender their title.
Los Colchoneros have W0-D2-L4 at home to the Big-2 in La Liga action under Simeone but I’m happy to overlook that trend with Atleti holding the upper hand with all competitions included. Remember, they were only minutes away from securing Champions League glory against Real back in May!
What’s more, the Mattress Makers boast a terrific record at the Calderon. It’s now just one loss in 31 home league games and the Red-and-Whites have dropped just five points from a possible 33 when playing in front of their vociferous home support this season.
So yes, I’m edging towards the hosts. Atletico can be backed at 13/16 with BetVictor when taking a +0.25 start on the Asian Handicap. That’s most certainly a goer; we’ll bank a full payout should Los Colchoneros come out on top but also claim half of our potential payout should the fixture end all square.
As I hinted above, Real arrive with a clutch of unavailable first-choice players. Pepe and Luka Modric remain sidelined and Sergio Ramos and James Rodriguez will join them after picking up midweek injuries. Marcelo’s yellow card means he’ll also be missing, leaving Carlo Ancelotti without three of his first-choice back four.
Cristiano Ronaldo does return from suspension for Los Blancos, who of course do warrant maximum respect having won 17 of their last 18 league outings. However, their road record against the best Spain has to offer in league action is less than impressive under Ancelotti (W2-D3-L3).
I’m going to have a second bet on this fixture as I think the 10/11 from Betfred on Over 2.5 Goals is also extremely backable. Atletico have only failed to score twice in La Liga this season, hit two or more goals in 10 of their 11 home league fixtures and the Over 2.5 Goals bet has proved a winner in 9/10 home meetings against Spain’s Big-2.
Real, for their part, have netted in their last 22 league games, scored at least twice in 17/18 La Liga matches and hit two or more in 10 of their last 11 away. They’ve seen three goals or more in their last 15 league fixtures as well as in 10/11 trips to top-six sides.
Real Sociedad v Celta Vigo | Saturday 21.00 | Sky Sports 5
David Moyes suffered a double blow last weekend in his bid to prove the doubters wrong. Firstly, having been promised funds and investment during the January transfer window, Sociedad failed to bolster their squad. And then, more significantly, star man Carlos Vela tweaked ligaments in last week’s defeat at Real Madrid and is now likely to be on the sidelines for up to eight weeks.
Vela’s La Real’s top scorer this season with seven but also added two assists meaning he’s directly contributed to 43% of the Basque clubs goal tally this season. I’m intrigued to see how Moyes copes with the loss but it’s hard to envisage Sociedad flourishing in his absence with some pundits are even suggested the 40/1 on relegation could now be a serious play.
Back to Saturday night’s clash with Celta Vigo then and to me, this fixture has got a real low-scoring feel about it. I’m not a huge fan of negative goals-based bets but BetVictor are dangling 11/10 our way for Under 2 Goals on the Asian Goals line and that’s more than attractive. Essentially, we’ll be in profit should the game end with zero or one goals scored but we’ll get our cash back if exactly two goals are netted. Anything more and we’re onto a loser…
Since Moyes arrived in San Sebastian, La Real have scored more than goal just once and that came in his first match. Since then the Basques have W2-D3-L3 in La Liga whilst W2-D1-L1 when hosting at Anoeta. Crucially for our bet, all four of those home fixtures featured fewer than three goals with three providing winning Under 2 Goals bets.
Celta ended their long 10-game winless streak with a 1-0 victory against Cordoba last weekend. But the Galicians have struggled to find their feet when playing away, losing six on the spin and scoring just once during that run of defeats. In fact, they’ve only netted four goals in their last 12 league outings.
Those sorry statistics in front of goal have led to six of Vigo’s last seven producing winners for Under 2.5 Goals backers whilst a whopping nine of their previous 12 outings have also featured one goal or fewer. I’d be surprised if Saturday night’s game didn’t follow suit.
Espanyol v Valencia | Sunday 18.00 | Sky Sports 5
Anyone who tuned in for last Sunday night’s La Liga offering on Sky Sports were privileged to see two absolute belters from Spain. Following Barcelona’s ding-dong tie with Villarreal we were treated to Espanyol’s 3-2 loss at Sevilla. Wonder goals, penalties, red cards, four goalkeepers… the games had everything.
It was just another indicator to me that proved Espanyol are a team going in the right direction. The Parakeets have drifted between the lines a little too often in recent seasons, for my liking. They filled a Newcastle-like existence; not good enough to chase European football but a level above those fighting against relegation.
However, Sergio González’s side are showing us a new side to their game, especially in the past 10 weeks and especially when hosting at their Estadi Cornellà-El Prat home. The Catalans have W6-D3-L1 in La Liga home games now since starting the season with a defeat to Sevilla.
And Espanyol have netted in all bar one of their 11 league matches in front of their home supporters too. In fact, González’s charges have been shutout just three times in 21 outings at Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Cordoba. That’s mightily impressive for a side sitting in ninth.
Felipe Caicedo, Christian Stuani and skipper Sergio Garcia offer defenders plenty of headaches and they’ll be bullishly confident about grabbing a few against a Valencia side that’s vulnerable away from Mestalla.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s visitors were beaten 1-0 at Malaga on Monday night but did have chances to level things up. Although their W3-D4-L3 record is most certainly cause for concern, Los Che have scored in nine of their 10 road trips and in 17 of their 21 league games under the new boss.
That loss at Malaga was their first in seven fixtures and whilst Nuno looks to bed in a number of new arrivals, leaving the likes of Paco Alcacer on the sideslines, the Bats can still boast the likes of Alvaro Negredo, Rodrigo and Pablo Piatti in their starting XI. They’re most definitely a top-heavy side.
I’m tempted to side with Espanyol in some shape or form but instead I’ll take the 19/20 from Betfair that Both Teams To Score. It looks a very generous offering with two attack-minded teams on show.
Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid – Atletico Madrid +0.25 (13/16 BetVictor)
Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid – Over 2.5 Goals (10/11 Betfred)
Real Sociedad v Celta Vigo – Under 2 Goals (11/10 BetVictor)
Espanyol v Valencia – Both Teams To Score (19/20 Betfair)
*Remember, you can earn a bonus of up to 100% on your returns if you place accumulators on the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga or Bundesliga with Bet365. Place a pre-match accumulator of 3 or more selections combining teams in any of those competitions, and if successful Bet365 will add the a bonus to your returns.*