LA LIGA expert Callum Read (@CallumRead) highlights the value from Wednesday night’s card.
Granada v Athletic Bilbao | Wednesday 21.00 | Sky Sports Red Button
I, like many other La Liga fans, was very excited when Paco Jemez was given the Granada job after relegating Rayo Vallecano last season.
For those who don’t know much about him, he literally hates defending – think Jorge Sampaoli, only less defensive.
Tonight, the Estadio Nuevo hosts Athletic Club Bilbao, the proud Basque club that have won their last two La Liga matches against Deportivo and Valencia.
Meanwhile, Granada are still without a win and have conceded 10 goals, the second most in the league. Last season Granada shipped 31 goals at home, to give some comparison, Jemez’s Rayo side shipped 29,
El Graná also had the 19th worst home form in the league giving their fans only six wins in the 2015/16 campaign. Ernesto Valverde’s side, meanwhile, had the fifth best away form – and that’s exactly the market I’m delving into tonight.
I still think Paco is getting to grips with this Granada side – he signed 18 players during the summer transfer window, 12 of which have joined on loan. New goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa has been a joke shop in goal, conceding silly goals and making unforgivable mistakes, whilst his back four haven’t been great.
On Wednesday night Granada will be without the suspended Ruben Vezo with Tito, who usually plays full-back to slot in the centre.
Athletic’s win over Valencia showed they’ve turned a corner after their slow start to the season, Aduriz is now off the mark having scored a brace, Raul Garcia is showing no signs of ageing and central midfielder Beñat and defender Laporte are finding their form.
Looking at the statistics, there have been Over 2.5 Goals scored in nine of Granada’s last 10 games, and they’ve also conceded at least two goals in their last three matches.
I can really see this trend continuing and Athletic capitalising on Granada’s poor defence so I’m taking both Athletic to win and Over 1.5 Goals at 17/10 (BetStars) and Athletic to win & Over 2.5 Goals at 5/2 with BetStars.
Real Madrid v Villarreal | Wednesday 19.00 | Sky Sports 2
It’s funny, most La Liga fans were have been worried for Villarreal this season and they currently sit sixth in the table having not lost a game this season.
The Yellow Submarine’s 2-1 win against Real Sociedad means Fran Escriba has now won his last three games in all competitions but I think that comes to an end tonight.
If you believe in curses, then Real Madrid won’t win tonight. Los Blancos have recorded 16 consecutive La Liga wins, matching the total set by Pep Guardiola with his 2010/11 Barcelona side – luckily for you readers, I’m not into superstitions and believe Los Blancos make it 17 tonight, but the odds are way to short to back them to win outright.
Real Madrid have scored at least three goals in 13 of their last 15 home matches and have seen Over 2.5 Goals scored in their last seven games at the Bernabeu.
However, the market that I like tonight is the Win Both Halves market – Zinedine Zidane’s side have been winning at both half-time and full-time in 13 of their last 15 home La Liga matches.
But more eye-catchingly for Wednesday night’s encounter is the fact they’ve been winning at both half-time and full-time in five of their last seven home matches against Villarreal in all competitions.
Real Madrid are flying this season, they’ve enough depth and quality to change the game in the final third but have a tight defence and a world class midfield. At 7/5 with Coral, I’m backing Real Madrid to win Both Halves.
Barcelona v Atletico Madrid | Wednesday 21.00 | Sky Sports 2
If you don’t love Atleti, what is wrong with you? They are such a wonderful side to watch and make defending look like an art form and despite the fact they face what is probably the best front three in world football, I’m still confident backing them here.
If there is one side Luis Enrique hates playing against, it’s Atletico Madrid. They frustrated Barcelona in last season’s Champions League tie and had it not been for Fernando Torres’ 35th minute red card, we may just have seen Atleti keep a clean sheet at the Camp Nou.
Diego Simeone’s side are undefeated in 11 of their last 12 La Liga matches and have kept a clean sheet in 80% of their last 10 La Liga games.
This season though, they are more then just a tight defence – Kevin Gameiro was signed from Sevilla this summer and his pace has added another dimension to their attacking play.
El Cholo recognised that playing four central midfielders limits their attacking options and started with wingers against both Celta Vigo and Sporting Gijon – he was rewarded with 4-0 and 5-0 wins.
If I’m 100% honest, I can see either Carrasco or Gaitan being dropped for this one so Simeone can regain some dominance in the midfield.
Barcelona will be without the impressive new signing, Samuel Umtiti who is due to miss this one with knee ligament damage, in his place will be Javier Mascherano – now I know who I’d back in a foot race if Gameiro or Griezmann face Masherano in one.
Atleti are priced at 5/1 (BetVictor) with most popular bookmakers – for a team of their quality that is incredibly long odds and odds I am more than happy to take, so come on Simeone, work some more of your magic please.
Granada v Athletic Bilbao – Athletic Bilbao to win and Over 1.5 Goals (17/10 BetStars)
Granada v Athletic Bilbao – Athletic Bilbao to win and Over 2.5 Goals (5/2 BetStars)
Real Madrid v Villarreal – Real Madrid to win both halves 7/5 (Coral)
Barcelona v Atletico Madrid – Atletico Madrid to win (5/1 BetVictor)