THE European season continues its relentless quest for conclusion on Thursday and Jack Wright (@bet_shop_boys ) is on-hand to preview his favourite fancies.
Athletic Bilbao vs Leganes | Thursday 16th July 2020, 20:00
Athletic Club are clinging on to a tiny slither of hope that they can still squeeze in to the top-six at the expense of Getafe and Real Sociedad – but with two games remaining they will need to win both to have any hope of overturning the current three=point gap both those clubs currently hold over them.
The Basque outfit have lost both their last two league games, albeit against leaders Real Madrid and fourth-placed Sevilla, however a first half brace from key man Raul Garcia secured a 2-1 victory at Levante over the weekend getting them back to winning ways.
Veteran Garcia was a big miss in the Sevilla loss as he served a one-match ban and he will be vital if Los Leones are to break down a Leganes side displaying a new found resilience in not only being unbeaten in their last three games but registering shut outs in each one.
The visitors will be equally desperate for a victory seeing as they sit in the relegation zone, as they have done for the entirety of the season, some four points from safety as we enter La Liga’s penultimate round of fixtures.
Los Pepineros travel having collected just two league wins on the road this season, away to already-relegated Espanyol and a pre-lockdown victory at Villarreal – I feel they will have to show more attacking intent here though given their perilous situation which could play into the home sides hands.
When the other members of the bottom four visited San Mamés, all three have been comfortably defeated by Gaizka Garitano’s side, taking a lead in to half-time on each occasion before going on to win by two or more goals (2-0, 3-0, 3-1).
Although Athletic/Athletic is appealing at 2/1 in the Half Time/Full Time market, as is the 13/5 on offer for Athletic to score in both halves as they did in those aforementioned three games, Javier Aguirre’s guests have shown enough stubbornness to convince me to look elsewhere.
When 34-year-old Garcia netted his 14th La Liga strike of the season in the win over Levante, it was the 10th time he had opened the scoring this term – more than any other player in the entire division – so the 9/2 with Bet365 to do so again is very appealing, especially so considering he’s 7/4 just to get on the scoresheet.
Athletic’s number 22 bagged a brace that day taking his tally to six goals in 610 minutes of action (from eight games) since the restart, a goal every 101 minutes.
The generous odds on offer could well be due to the former Atletico Madrid man being best known as a midfielder – however since the return he has been deployed further forward with the highly-rated Inaki Williams pushed out wide to accommodate.
So my eyes lit up at the 21/10 on offer with Betfair for Raul Garcia simply to have two or more shots on-target and is the selection for this game.
Getafe v Atletico Madrid | Thursday 16th July 2020, 20:00
Rumours that this derby is going to be pushed back an hour so as not to kick off before the 9pm watershed are apparently wide of the mark!
Longer standing followers of my Twitter account will know my fondness for Getafe, or more specifically their consistent ability to collect cautions, and with the animated Diego Simeone passionately orchestrating proceedings for the opposition from (most parts of) the touchline, this has all the ingredients to be a classic for fans of the feisty.
Sixth vs third doesn’t give a true reflection on this battle as the two sides from the capital have had very contrasting form since restarting their respective seasons.
Atleti are unbeaten with the six wins picked up guaranteeing their involvement in the Champions League for 2020/21.
For El Geta it’s a different story, without a win in four, failing to score in the last three and a total of just eight points from their nine post-lockdown games leaving the Coliseum outfit hanging on to sixth on goal difference. They therefore have business to take care of before turning their own attention to European action.
So, with not only local pride at stake, but also vital league points, we should expect a typically aggressive approach from José Bordalas’ side who have amassed an incredible 132 cards (126 yellow, six red) from their 36 La Liga matches so far – an average of 3.66 per game – not to mention a further 22 from eight Europa League fixtures.
In the nine games since returning to action, Los Azulones have picked up four or more cards on five occasions, with 10 across their last two home outings.
Against a more timid opponent there is a possibility that the league bad boys – topping La Liga card totals both home and away – could calm their approach down a little but we know Simeone will not tolerate a drop in standards or intensity from his team, with one Diego Costa coming off the bench to score the winner last time out against Betis and will be looking for a start here.
Illustrating their poor-discipline, Getafe are without both Xabier Etxeita and Damian Suerez against Los Rojiblancos after receiving off the pitch red cards, while Allan Nyom returns after his own ban. To have four players in double figures for cards received is quite astonishing – and although the aforementioned Suarez with 15 to his name will not be playing – Arambarri 10, Nyom 14 and Mata 14 should all be in contention.
To find Getafe odds-against for 40+ Booking Points was a massive – but very pleasant – surprise and I need not look any further for an angle in this game.