LA LIGA boff Callum Read (@callumread) is back to attack the Spanish top-flight with two selections from Saturday's card.
Real Madrid v Granada | Saturday 12:00 | Sky Sports 2
While every other Spanish side enjoyed their winter break, Real Madrid headed over to Japan to win their second trophy this season as they defeated both America and Kashima Antlers to win the FIFA Club World Cup.
Still unbeaten in La Liga, Zidane’s side currently sit top of the back, three points ahead of second-place Barcelona having scored 40 goals and conceded 14.
Los Blancos come into this fixture looking to equal Barcelona’s record of 39 games unbeaten and also enjoyed a 3-0 win over third-placed Sevilla in the Copa del Rey during the week.
It’s interesting really, many people would expect Madrid to have dominated most of their 39 games during this run, winning against the smaller sides 5 or 6-0 but that hasn’t been the case.
They’ve had issues getting over the line and have had some interesting defensive displays just before the winter break. This includes being just six minutes away from a 2-1 home defeat against Deportivo until Mariano Diaz’s 84th-minute goal and an injury time Sergio Ramos winner handed the league leaders victory.
The visitors are one of the weaker sides in the league and often deploy a very defensive 5-4-1 system when they play the big teams. The same system and formation saw them lose just 1-0 against Barcelona a few weeks back away from home. However, I feel they’ll want an ounce of pride and aren’t going to accept the same result here.
Interestingly, Both Teams To Score has been a winner in 75% of Granada’s games this season with the same result landing in 73% of Real Madrid’s.
The hosts have also won their last four consecutive league games at the Santiago Bernabeu, however they’ve only managed to keep a clean sheet in just one of those games.
With an injury list hosting Gareth Bale, Pepe, Matteo Kovacic, Lucas Vazquez and with Ramos suspended, I don’t think it’s an unrealistic expectation to ask for a Granada goal.
For that reason, I’m happy to take Real Madrid to win and Both Teams To Score at 13/10 (William Hill).
Las Palmas v Sporting Gijon | Saturday 17:30 | Sky Sports 2
Just over 18 months ago Las Palmas and Sporting Gijon were both promoted from the Segunda. However, it’s Las Palmas who have taken to football in the top-flight better with Gijon struggling to find both form and wins.
The hosts currently have 16 points from their eight home games boasting a 50% win ratio at Estadio Gran Canaria, scoring 16 goals and conceding eight in that time. Gijon meanwhile, have had serious issues on the road and are yet to win away from home scoring six and conceding 16.
But the away side have scored five goals in their last five away games including once against Real Madrid and twice against Malaga, so they certainly have the ability to find the net.
Quique Setien’s hosts were in Copa del Rey action during the week and the Spanish manager showed his intentions as he rotated his side in preparation for this fixture. Yet to lose at home this season they’ll be eager to maintain their run against a less than impressive Sporting Gijon side.
The visitors certainly have the ability to score goals against this Las Palmas side – Duje Cope has shown his ability in front of goal this season, netting six times in 16 games. His side have also seen Over 2.5 Goals land in their last six La Liga games and have conceded at least twice in six of their last seven away matches.
What’s more, Las Palmas have seen the Both Teams To Score selection land in 69% of their La Liga fixtures this season, while the figure stands at 75% for Sporting. The last four fixtures between the two sides have also seen BTTS bank.
With the statistics supporting BTTS and the fact that Sporting have a very poor defence, I’m taking Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score at 5/4 with Coral.
Real Madrid v Granada – Real Madrid to win and Both Teams To Score (13/10 William Hill)
Las Palmas v Sporting Gijon – Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (5/4 Coral)
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