MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) continues his hunt for the continent's best bet with his European NAP focussing on La Liga's Saturday night action.
Real Madrid v Celta Vigo | Saturday 19.15 | Sky Sports 3
Hands up, I called Real Sociedad v Real Madrid wrong last week.
Los Blancos were missing key components – arguably Zinedine Zidane’s reliable spine with no Keylar Navas, Pepe, Luka Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo or Karim Benzema – but Gareth Bale’s opener just 74 seconds into the Anoeta encounter set the tone for Real.
Madrid were impressive and controlled the contest. The European champions were slick in possession, fast on the break and dangerous throughout. Marco Asensio added a delightful second and Bale completed the scoring bang on the full-time whistle.
Modric returns to the fold this weekend but few drastic changes are expected from Zidane as the capital club to go two from two in their first outing at the Bernabeu this season.
And it’s not rocket science to suggest Real are the most likely winners here having claimed maximum points in 65/76 (86%) of their home La Liga fixtures across the past four campaigns despite not claiming a league title in that sample.
But dig a little deeper and we can see a hugely impressive trend from those 76 contests. In 52 (68%) Los Blancos have enjoyed W-W double results – it’s a remarkably strong stat so seeing 7/10 (Coral) available on the Real Madrid/Real Madrid double result makes huge appeal.
If we were to take the 68% strike-rate literally, it would imply the real betting odds of the same selection would be closer to a 1/2 shot. I reckon we’ve found a fantastic value angle there and I’ll be making it my weekend NAP.
It’s a selection that’s won in 12 of Real’s last 13 as hosts – on 10 occasions they’ve led ‘to nil’ at the break – and the capital club have notched at least three goals in 12 of those fixtures too.
I see little to fear from Celta following a worrying opening weekend defeat at home to newly-promoted Leganes. The Galicians struggled without departed Nolito with Eduardo Berizzo leaving Pablo Hernandez and John Guidetti on the bench on Monday.
The visitors from Vigo enjoyed 64% possession against Leganes but only managed two efforts on-target. So how will they fare against a Madrid side that spanked them 7-1 in this fixture last season? Probably not too well.
Gustavo Cabral is expected to come back into the side at centre-back but Iago Aspas has been carrying a knock. Berizzo’s boys will do their best to dominate possession but they’re unlikely to be given too much change from Madrid’s high press and with the hosts eager to get amongst the goals, it could get ugly.
Real Madrid v Celta Vigo – Real Madrid/Real Madrid HT/FT (7/10 Coral)