MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) made a strong start to his 2016 La Liga punting. Can he continue his hot streak this weekend?
Villarreal v Sporting Gijon | Sunday 11.00 | Sky Sports 3
Villarreal’s victory last weekend cemented their place in fourth and has put Marcelinho’s men in pole position to finish in the Champions League qualifying places.
The success over Deportivo was their fifth successive three points in La Liga and brought the Yellow Submarine to within four points of table-topping Atletico Madrid.
Marcelinho heavily rotated in Villarreal’s midweek Copa del Rey tie but he’ll bring all the big guns back as the hosts chase a 10th victory in 12 El Madrigal league outings.
Only Barcelona boast a better home record than Villarreal’s W7-D1-L1 efforts this term and I’m delighted to take the 11/13 (BetVictor) on them -1 in the Asian Handicap market.
With this selection, we’ll get our cash back should Villarreal only win by a one-goal margin. But a victory by two or more goals will return profit.
The Yellow Submarine has already beaten Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Valencia ‘to nil’ this term and since 2013/14 they’ve returned outstanding W28-D8-L11 figures from El Madrigal matches – 15 of those triumphs arrived by the magic two-goal margin and I’d be surprised if we didn’t at least get our cash back.
Sporting Gijon have suffered a serious downturn in results, losing seven of their last nine and six of their nine away days.
The Asturias visitors have been beaten in each of their previous five on the road, failing to score in four, whilst conceding at least twice in five of their most recent six.
But the most alarming stat comes from their performance data – no side has fired in fewer on-target attempts on their travels than Sporting’s 15 (1.67 per-game) and their 30% share of the total shots-on-target across their nine away matches is relegation material.
Eibar v Espanyol | Sunday 17.15 | Sky Sports 2
What a transformation Eibar have enjoyed over the summer. Jose Luis Mendilibar’s totally reinvigorated the club and they’re once again sailing amongst the top-half of La Liga.
The Basque club have looked a menace going forward thanks to the work of Borja Baston and Sergi Enrich and tightened up defensively in recent weeks, keeping three clean sheets from their most recent four.
At their Ipura base they’ve W4-D3-L2 with only Atletico and Real departing their miniature with maximum points.
But the trend that sticks out is Eibar’s fast starts – only Real boast a better first-half record than the minnows’ W11-D5-L2 and Mendilibar’s men have led at the interval in six of their nine as hosts this term.
Espanyol head north after a gruelling 10 days that’s seen them beaten at Sevilla and face two games against their bitter city rivals Barcelona. We can only assume, the Parakeets will be knackered from their excursions and so taking the 23/10 on a W-W Eibar double result in the Half-Time/Full-Time market stands out with BetVictor.
Constantin Galca is Espanyol’s new boss but he’s yet to arrest their below-par form. The travellers have lost five on the spin away and trailed at the break in all five whilst also being beaten in all seven trips to teams in 13th and above this term.
Looking further back, the Parakeets have lost 12 of their previous 15 visits to top-half clubs that aren’t Barcelona or Real Madrid and suffered L-L in eight of their previous 12 against the same opposition.
Failing to net in five of their most recent seven road trips doesn’t exactly scream positivity so I’ll take a chance on Eibar dispatching Espanyol following a fast start on Sunday evening.
Las Palmas v Malaga | Sunday 17.15 | Sky Sports Interactive
This selection is written in the stats.
Neither Las Palmas nor Malaga have been friends of goals-based punters this season and there’s plenty of reason to believe we should be opposing Both Teams To Score at 5/6 with Marathon.
The Canary Island hosts have taken seven points from 12 to move outside the relegation zone but it’s their stingy results on the island that most catch the attention – eight of their last nine when welcoming La Liga opposition have seen fewer than three goals with the same figure for those opposing BTTS.
Only four of Malaga’s 18 have featured Over 2.5 Goals whilst only one of their nine away days have produced goals for both sides. Looking further back, 11 of the Anchovies’ 17 as guests have seen one goal or fewer.
The visitors have won four on the spin keeping their sheets clean in each of their last three but Javi Gracia’s without two of his most trusted attacking lieutenants here as both Charles and Nordin Amrabat are sidelined due to bans. Without playmaker Amrabat, Malaga have W2-D0-L6 and failed to score in five.
If we took both sides’ respective home and away games from this season literally, the odds for backing ‘No’ in the Both Teams To Score market wouldn’t be far off 1/10. So 5/6 is just too good to ignore.
Celta Vigo v Atletico Madrid | Sunday 19.30 | Sky Sports 2
Atletico Madrid are most definitely in the running for the La Liga title.
Last weekend’s late 1-0 win against Levante won’t win prizes for aesthetics but it was the type of result that typified a major contender grinding out maximum points when most in need.
The capital club lead Barcelona by two points having churned out W9-D1-L1 since holding bitter rivals Real Madrid 1-1 back in early October. Diego Simeone’s side have leaked just four goals across those 11 matches, recording a hugely impressive seven clean sheets.
It’s not all been sweetness and joy, mind. Off the pitch the Atleti president spent time before his side’s game at Rayo Vallecano 10 days ago giving abuse back to some fans near him, performing up-yours gestures and inviting fans to come here so he could “kiss it” – football certainty isn’t functional on the continent.
Nevertheless, the visitors should be fresh for battle in Balaídos with Simeone resting and rotating 10 players for their midweek Copa del Rey clash against Madrid foes Rayo and their W6-D1-L2 road record this term suggests they’re more than capable of picking up another three points.
All six of those triumphs came ‘to nil’ with five arriving by a 1-0 or 2-0 correct score. Considering the guests have delivered Under 2.5 Goals winners in each of their last eight away La Liga games, a repeat could well be on the cards this weekend.
Their backline strength should be strengthened further by two January additions too. Matias Kranevitter and Celta skipper Augusto Fernandez are tidy in possession, boast outstanding lung capacities are capable of shutting down opposition attacks making them typical Simeone stalwarts. Both should only enhance the Mattress Makers’ options and opportunity to secure another domestic crown.
Meanwhile, Celta were top of the table in early October. But their following 10 matches have only produced W4-D1-L5 as the Sky Blues have slid down to fifth.
Eduardo Berizzo’s boys have lost each of their three encounters with top-half teams in Galicia during that sample and will be forced to shoulder on without their star man Nolito in attack.
Barcelona are chasing the highly-rated but injured forward and it’s telling that, of the nine matches he’s failed to start since the start of last season, Celta have won just once. Eight of those nine fell below the 2.5 line and four have ended in 1-0 losses. This term, the attacker has notched eight goals and laid on five assists for his teammates.
Normally associated with attacking football, the Vigo club have delivered Under 2.5 Goals winners in each of their last five as well as eight of their previous 12 when welcoming top-six teams to Balaídos.
Both Malaga and Athletic Bilbao have shut the hosts out in their last two outings and without Nolito in tow, it’s difficult to see them breaking down one of Europe’s tightest defences on Sunday.
A ridiculous 12 of Atletico’s 13 league wins have been by either a 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1 scoreline. We can back all three correct scores in one bet with SkyBet at 13/8.
Real Madrid v Deportivo La Coruna | Saturday 19.30 | Sky Sports 1
The King is dead, long live The King! OK, something like that…
Poor Rafa Benitez gets a bloody raw deal from a lot of fans but treatment dished out from Real Madrid on Monday was disrespectful and downright disgraceful. But hey, that’s no surprise from a club like Real and a laughable present like Florentino Perez.
You’ll have heard the news by now that football royalty Zinedine Zidane is the new Los Blancos coach, stepping up from his position in charge of Castilla, His first task is to get three points a home tie against Deportivo La Coruna.
Despite the miniscule odds, this Is by no means a straightforward fixture. I detailed Depor’s fabulous campaign and the impact that Victor Sanchez has made since taking over last week. Although the Brancoazuis were beaten by Villarreal last time out, it was just their fifth reverse in 26 (W7-D14-L5).
When playing away, La Coruna have W3-D9-L2 under Victor’s watch and that includes two draws at Barcelona – the most recent a thrilling 2-2 draw where Depor fought back from two goals down. The visitors are riding high in seventh and will relish their underdog status.
Of course, I, like all of you, expect Real Madrid to win. They’ve done so in 22 of their last 26 Bernebeu league dates and scored 25 goals in their last four on home soil. In fact, they’ve even returned W-W double results in 18 of their previous 25 in the capital.
And it’s true too that, Deportivo’s form has slowed in recent weeks. The away side have just one victory in seven now. And although their excellent defensive record ranks alongside the best performers in the league, you just don’t oppose Real Madrid scoring at home – they’ve done so in all bar two of their last 43.
So what’s the bet? Quite simple, really. Real Madrid to win and Both Teams To Score at 6/4 with Ladbrokes.
It’s banked in six of the previous eight meetings between the two teams and the hosts have leaked in each of their last five La Liga home outings as well as nine of their last 10 domestic dates.
Depor boast the top-scoring Spaniard in the division in 12-goal Lucas Perez, have notched in 15 of their 18 fixtures this term including against Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Valencia and Sevilla as well as in 11 of their 14 road trips under Victor. They’ve plenty of pace on the counter and an abundance of energy in midfield to make this an enjoyable contest.
Real Madrid v Deportivo La Coruna – Real Madrid to win and Both Teams To Score (6/4 Ladbrokes)
Villarreal v Sporting Gijon – Villarreal -1 Asian Handicap (11/13 888 Sport)
Eibar v Espanyol – Eibar-Eibar (23/10 BetVictor)
Las Palmas v Malaga – Both Teams To Score ‘No’ (5/6 Marathon)
Celta Vigo v Atletico Madrid – Atletico Madrid to win 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1 (13/8 SkyBet)
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