MARK O'HAIRE'S (@MarkOHaire) ever-popular European NAP continues this weekend. He's heading to La Liga this Saturday.
Alaves v Real Madrid | Saturday 23rd September 2017, 15:15
Real Madrid failed to win at home for the third time this season (W0-D2-L1) when suffering a shock last-gasp defeat to Real Betis at the Bernabeu on Wednesday. But it certainly wasn’t for the want of trying.
Los Blancos fired in 27 efforts at goal and an Expected Goals total of 4.43 as they failed to score for the first time in 73 matches despite Cristiano Ronaldo returning from his five-game ban for pushing a referee.
With Barcelona pocketing a perfect five wins from five, Real already trail their bitter rivals by seven points. With Marcelo joining Theo Hernandez on the injury list, Nacho will need to play at left-back here and with Karim Benzema also out, questions could be asked of the capital club here.
However, Zinedine Zidane has refused to press the panic button and there’s still plenty of positives to fall back on. Madrid have been impeccable away, Deportivo la Corunna 3-0 and Real Sociedad 3-1 and have now churned out 11 successive victories on the spin on their travels – a club record.
The guests have scored 36 goals across those 11 games and are also league leaders in all the key performance data metrics this term. Everything points to Los Blancos simply being a little unfortunate in the opening weeks and sooner or later, they’ll blow an unlucky divisional rival away.
The betting angle
That could well be rock-bottom Alaves on Saturday. I’m therefore happy to back Madrid with a -2 Asian Handicap at 11/14 (188BET) quotes – this selection will see our stake returned if Real only manage a two-goal triumph exactly.
The European champions were 4-1 winners at the Estadio Mendizorroza and couldn’t have asked for easier opposition this weekend.
My La Liga recommendation for relegation have struggled following the departure of Mauricio Pellegrino in the summer, as well as a catalogue of key players. Marcos Llorente, Deyverson, Edgar, Theo Hernandez, Kiko Femenía and Zouhair Feddal have all departed and the Basques are struggling.
Luis Zubeldia – Pellegrino’s replacement – has already been sacked following four consecutive defeats without scoring and interim boss Javier Cabello couldn’t stop the rot as Alaves went down 1-0 at Deportivo in midweek.
It’s only a matter of months since the hosts lifted their maiden Copa del Rey title but they’re rock-bottom in Spain on merit (a -7.70 Expected Goals differential) and are likely to suffer more pain on Saturday.
Alaves v Real Madrid – Real Madrid -2 Asian Handicap (11/14 188BET)