IN-FORM Callum Read (@callumread) picks out the best bets from La Liga this weekend for us.
Valencia v Barcelona | Saturday 15:15
Cesare Prandelli picked up his first league win as Valencia manager last weekend beating Sporting Gijon 2-1 thanks to a Mario Suarez brace. For Barcelona they beat Deportivo La Coruna 4-0, with Messi, Suarez and a double from Rafinha, a game in which Luis Enrique opted to use the 3-4-3 formation.
The champions are coming off the back of a run of high scoring results scoring three or more goals in six of their last eight games in all competitions. This included a 4-0 win over Manchester City in the Champions League, a game that saw Lionel Messi score, yet ANOTHER hat trick.
They may be under a different manager this season but Valencia’s home form this season has been nothing short of horrendous. They’ve lost three of their four home games at the Mestalla conceding 10 goals in the process.
Barcelona have enjoyed success on their travels, winning three of their away games and losing against Celta Vigo in a 4-3 thriller. Luis Enrique’s side have found the net 14 times away from home and have scored less than 2.5 goals just once away from home this season.
With Jordi Alba out, Lucas Digne is expected to start at left back, whilst with Gerard Pique, expect to see Umitit and Mascherano anchoring the defence.
Barcelona are undefeated in their last 10 away games against Valencia and have scored at least two goals in 13 of their 15 last away games in La Liga. With Valencia failing to keep a clean sheet in their last five games, hosting Barcelona isn’t the fixture they’d of asked for.
With this Barcelona side scoring goals at an alarming rate, I really like the look of Barcelona to win and Over 3.5 Match Goals, best priced 9/5 with BetStars.
Granada v Sporting Gijon | Saturday 19:45 | Sky Sports 3
We all thought Granada would be in for an exciting season when Granada appointed Paco Jemez this summer, however he left after just six games in charge of the club.
Since leaving the club, Granada have lost both their games and were humiliated 7-1 against Atletico Madrid last weekend, quite frankly they’ve been awful this season and deserve to be sitting bottom of the table. Their defence has been nothing short of embarrassing conceding 23 goals this season – the most in La Liga.
Although their opponents this weekend had a promising start to their campaign they find themselves in 18th position having not won a league game in five.
Abelardo’s side haven’t been good at the back either, shipping 18 goals across eight games including 16 in their last five – the highest amount in the league.
With both sides so awful at the back this season, I can only see this game producing goals. Over 2.5 Goals has landed in Sporting Gijon’s last six La Liga games and Rojiblancos have conceded at least two goals in their last five league games.
Granada meanwhile, they’ve conceded at least two in six of their last seven La Liga games, and have scored two or more goals against Gijon in their last three meetings. I’m happy to take on the Over 2.5 Goals and Both teams to Score marker in this one, which you can find at odds of 11/8 with SkyBet.
Sevilla v Atletico Madrid | Sunday 15:15 | Sky Sports 5
Sevilla v Atletico, Jorge Sampaoli v Diego Simeone, 1st v 3rd, this is the game of the weekend, one I can’t wait for.
Two of the worlds most highly rated managers will clash this weekend, with the winner taking a massive step ahead of the other in the title race. Just one point separates the two sides at the top of the table and with both sides proving extremely attractive on the eye this season we are in for a wonderful encounter.
The game at the Sanchez Pizjuan will be the first time the two Argentine coaches will have faced each other. Sampaoli’s side press their opposition all over the pitch with focus on intensity, power and strength in numbers. Well, that’s exactly what Atletico have been doing for the past five years and they know better than anyone how to counteract that style of football.
Infamous for their defensive structure and ability to keep clean sheets, Atleti have added goals to their game this season, recording a 7-1 win, a 5-0 win and a 4-0 win this campaign.
With 21 goals to their name they are the second highest scorers in the league behind Real Madrid and Barcelona. It’s a scary thought really, a side that only conceded 18 goals last season have now found their grove in the final third and are capable of blowing teams out of the water.
The leagues top scorer this season is Antoine Griezmann, the Frenchman is a world class player there is no doubt about it, he’s my favourite player in world football and for me, he’s not far away from the level of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
He’s started to become more consistent in the scoring department and having contributed six goals and three assists this season it’s clear to see why Simeone rates his star man so much.
He failed to find the net against Rostov and wasn’t on the scoresheet in the 7-1 drubbing of Granada so will be determined to get back to scoring ways this weekend.
Atleti will need to take their chances against Sevilla, they’ve no one better at doing that then Griezmann, so I’m backing him to score anytime at a healthy 17/11 with Unibet.
Villarreal v Las Palmas | Sunday 17:30 | Sky Sports 5
Fran Escriba took over Villarreal this summer in a difficult situation, the club parted company with Marcelino a week before the Yellow Submarine had a Champions League qualifying fixture, many thought Esriba was in for a hard task and would, ultimately fail to replicate his predecessors achievements.
It’s been the complete opposite as Villarreal currently sit in fifth place and are one of three unbeaten sides. They’re very tight at the back and have a lot of attacking quality including the returning Cedric Bakambu who scored in his first game after his injury in the 5-0 demolition job of Celta de Vigo who had just beaten Barcelona.
Las Palmas enjoyed a good start to the season and at one point topped the table, however, their form has dropped off lately and they now sit in seventh with just one win in their last five games. The Canary Island side may score a lot of goals (16) but their main issue is their defence, they’ve conceded 13 goals in eight games.
On the road their record doesn’t get much better, they’ve won just once in four games shipped 10 goals. Villarreal meanwhile have scored 10 goals in front of their own fans in four games, conceding twice.
Coming off the back of a 2-2 draw against Turkish side Osmanlispor FK, Escriba will be keen to ensure his side don’t suffer a European hangover.
Villarreal have scored over 2.5 goals in their last three home league games, scoring at least two goals in all of them games. They are also have only lost twice in their last 19 La Liga matches at home.
With Villarreal welcoming Bakambu back into the starting XI and Sansone, Soriano and Castillejo providing a constant, attacking threat I feel this game will be Villarreal’s and it certainly will produce goals. I like the look of the Villarreal to win and Over 2.5 Goals market for this one, best priced at 17/10 with BetStars.
Valencia v Barcelona – Barcelona to win and Over 3.5 Goals (9/5 BetStars)
Granada v Sporting Gijon – Both Teams To Score and Over 2.5 Goals (11/8 Skybet)
Sevilla v Atletico Madrid – Antoine Griezmann to score anytime (17/11 Unibet)
Villarreal v Las Palmas – Villarreal to win and Over 2.5 Goals (17/10 BetStars)