WHAT’S the best bet from this weekend’s La Liga coupon? We asked Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire).
Valencia v Almeria | Saturday 17.00 | Sky Sports 5
I was pleased to dodge a bullet last weekend when avoiding Valencia to get a result at Celta Vigo. Los Che are different team on their travels and so, whilst they flourish at the Mestalla, they’ve yet to perfect their game plan on the road. Three wins from nine away pales in comparison to their seven victories in nine in front of their home supporters.
Nuno Espirio Santo’s hosts play a high-pressing, fast-tempo style. The idea’s to be quick and incisive in possession and that’s resulted in a number of blistering starts from the fallen giants. Valencia have led at half-time in six of their home wins and that’s a trend I want to capitalise on this weekend.
Almeria arrive on the back of a 2-0 defeat at home to Sevilla last weekend. Their home form remains puzzling poor but they’re adept at getting results on the road, losing just four of their nine road games.
However, the fixture list has been kind to the Rojiblancos with their only trip to a top-six club this season ending in a 2-0 reverse to Villarreal. In fact, looking back at Almeria’s record away to top-six sides reveals they’ve lost all of their last five fixtures, trailing in all five at half-time.
It’s a worrying trend and one that tallies nicely with Valencia’s. Betfair have made the HT-FT option a 19/20 chance and it’s decent considering the strengths of the stats in our favour.
Deportivo La Coruna v Barcelona | Sunday 16.00 | Sky Sports 5
Barcelona sounded a timely reminder to the two big Madrid clubs last weekend. The Catalans put their off-field problems aside and produced their best display of the season to see off Atletico Madrid 3-1 at the Camp Nou.
The feared front three of Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi were a danger for Atletico in every Barca attack and head coach Luis Enrique was understandably delighted with his side’s performance.
Next up is a trip to Deportivo and there’s plenty of reason to believe the Catalan giants won’t have it all their own way. Luis Enrique’s side are a different animal on the road and their W5-D2-L2 record from nine away fixtures is unremarkable for a team chasing title glory in Spain.
What’s more, Barcelona have only once won by more than a two-goal margin away from the Camp Nou. That came in a 5-0 rout of Levante when their opponents were on their knees after a series of disastrous results, which ended in boss Jose Luis Mendilibar getting the axe.
Depor might not be anywhere close to the team that took Spanish football by storm in the early naughties but they know how to dig in and frustrate opponents. Since finding their feet after promotion, the hosts have suffered only four defeats in 11 to move out of the relegation zone.
And the side from la Coruna have only once ended up losing by three goals or more on home soil. That came in a bizarre 8-2 defeat to Real back in September and a repeat collapse is highly unlikely.
With that in mind, taking Deportivo +2 in the Asian Handicap makes plenty of sense at even-money with BetVictor. With this selection, we’ll get our cash back should Barcelona win by two clear goals and be in profit if Deportivo can restrict their visitors to a one-goal win or better on Sunday.
Sevilla v Malaga | Sunday 20.00 | Sky Sports 5
Later on Sunday Sevilla entertain Malaga and the Andalusian derby looks like the best game on the La Liga coupon this weekend. With Both Teams To Score a 10/11 (William Hill) shot, I’ve just got to get involved.
Sevilla are riding high in fourth and remain unbeaten at their Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan base. However, the Rojiblancos have failed to keep clean sheets in five of those nine outings including both encounters against top-seven teams.
Malaga’s impressive season has stalled following consecutive draws after the winter break but they remain sharp shooters. Javi Garcia’s visitors have struck in every league match since October with six of their last eight also featuring Both Teams To Score.
Both sides are missing key figures in defensive positions so I'm hopeful the firepower on show can take advantage in an entertaining end to the weekend's domestic football.
Valencia v Almeria – Valencia HT-FT (19/20 Betfair)
Deportivo v Barcelona – Deportivo +2 Asian Handicap (1/1 BetVictor)
Sevilla v Malaga – Both Teams To Score (10/11 William Hill)