LA LIGA is back on the menu this weekend with Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) looking to continue his rich vein of form in the Spanish top-flight.
Cordoba v Atletico Madrid | Saturday 17.00 | Sky Sports 5
Defending champions Atletico Madrid enter the final 10 games of the season sitting in fourth. It’s not a position the Mattress Makers would have envisaged in August and it’s not a position that’s likely to be received too well by the Atletico hierarchy, or even boss Diego Simeone.
The Argentine coach continues to claim that a top-four finish was the start of season aim for the capital club but he’s lying. Atleti were focussed on retaining their crown and with Sevilla creeping up to just four points behind Simeone’s side, even a top-four place is coming under pressure.
Two wins in six since destroying bitter rivals Real Madrid at the Vicente Calderon have put the brakes on Atletico’s season but we should be backing the Mattress Makers to get back on track this Saturday when they head to a Cordoba side that are looking all but relegated.
The hosts have now lost nine consecutive games and defeat at their Nuevo Arcángel home this weekend would see Los Califas equal the second longest losing streak in La Liga history. Six of their last 11 games as hosts have ended in defeat and having axed Miroslav Djukic, the club are now onto their third coach of the season with Jose Romero taking the reigns.
Romero’s side were beaten 3-1 at Sociedad last time out in a match that saw three Cordoba players sent off. That means Aleksandar Pantic, Inigo Lopez and Dani Pinillos will all be missing; Pantic and Lopez’s absence in the heart of the Los Califas defence could have dire consequences.
Pantic has missed just six games this season and Cordoba have picked up only one point without him. Furthermore, the home side have lost just four of 12 matches with both Pantic and Lopez playing but 12 of 16 when one has been missing. This is the first game both will have missed.
Atletico boast an outstanding record when taking on clubs from the Andalusia region of Spain (W22-D7-L1) under Simeone and with six wins from their previous eight away days at bottom-six clubs (all secured by a margin of two goals or more), the Mattress Makers should be snapped up at 3/4 with a -1 start on the Asian Handicap line.
Taking this selection means we’ll get our cash back should the visitors win by just a one goal margin but we’ll pocket profit should Simeone’s defending champions come out on top by two goals or more.
Malaga v Real Sociedad | Saturday 21.00
Real Sociedad’s renaissance under David Moyes shows no sign of letting up as La Real signed off for the international break with three consecutive La Liga victories for the first time since January 2014. The nine points accrued has seen the Basques rise into ninth place – their highest position of the season.
You’re probably bored of my constant defence of David Moyes so I’ll keep the praise to a minimum. But I can’t pretend I’m not over the moon with the work being down by the former Manchester United boss. It’s been steady progress for the Scot in charge of Sociedad but his return of W7-D6-L4 from 17 league matches deserves plenty of credit.
It’s just one defeat in seven for Moyes’ boys now and with Carlos Vela back to full fitness, La Real are ready to continue their improved performances this weekend with a trip to Malaga.
Sure, their last away day at Getafe marked Sociedad’s first and only away victory of the season but the Basques enjoy visiting the southern Spanish coast, returning W6-D1-L1 figures from their previous eight trips to La Rosaleda and I’m keen to get involved in the 6/7 from 888 Sport that Moyes’ charges avoid defeat in the Double Chance market.
Only Villarreal, Valencia and Real Madrid have got the better of Sociedad on their travels under Moyes’ tutelage and as already mentioned, it’s just four defeats in 17 La Liga outings since the Scot took over the reigns.
Malaga may have surpassed all expectations under Javi Gracia this season but four wins from their previous 12 has slowed progress and the hosts must do without key central midfielder Ignacio Camacho this weekend.
Camacho will be replaced by Recio but Malaga have performed poorly without their defensive shield over the past 18 months. Since the start of last season, the Anchovies have won just four of the 20 games in which Camacho has missed, losing 12 including seven of the last nine on home soil.
I’m happy to oppose the hosts and put faith in Sociedad securing at least a point on the Costa del Sol.
Valencia v Villarreal | Sunday 16.00 | Sky Sports 5
Sunday afternoon sees the game of the weekend in Spain as in-form Valencia take on near neighbours Villarreal looking to continue their outstanding form. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have managed 11 wins from their past 14 fixtures to displace Atletico Madrid in third and move to within just four points of Real Madrid.
Before the international break Los Che demolished Elche 4-0 away and the Bats could easily have come away with an even bigger win. And on Easter Sunday, Nuno’s men return to the Mestalla where they’ve performed terrifically well this term, taking 37 points – only Atletico have taken more from home games.
It’s seven wins on the spin at the Mestalla (their best run of home form since September 2010) and 13 victories from 15 on home soil. Having beaten Villarreal in the last two league derbies in the four previous showdowns at Mestalla, the hosts make plenty of appeal at 11/10 (BetVictor) to see off a Villarreal side missing a number of key players.
The Yellow Submarine make the short journey without captain Bruno as well as Moi Gomez, Adrian Marin, Denis Cheryshev and Victor Ruiz. It leaves Marcelinho short in attacking areas and having scored just twice in four fixtures and suffering D1-L3 in those matches, Villarreal may suffer more pain before they get their campaign back on track.
Cordoba v Atletico Madrid – Atletico Madrid -1 Asian Handicap (3/4 BetVictor)
Malaga v Real Sociedad – Real Sociedad double chance (6/7 888 Sport)
Valencia v Villarreal – Valencia to win (11/10 BetVictor)
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