LA LIGA expert Callum Read (@CallumRead) highlights the value from the weekend's coupon Spain.
Sporting Gijon v Barcelona | Saturday 15:15
It’s always difficult to back the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid because their odds are always so short, but I’ve found an odds-against bet for Barca this weekend.
It’s been a mixed start to the season for the Catalans; they’ve already dropped five points, they’ve lost their star man Lionel Messi for the next three weeks and new signing Samuel Umtiti is also sidelined due to ligament damage.
They travel to El Molinon this weekend to face Sporting Gijon – one of three sides left with a 100% home record after beating Athletic Bilbao and Leganes in front of their own fans.
I’ve made no secret that I love Sporting this season; they’ve made some wonderful transfers and are putting together an exciting project but even I think this is a stretch to far for them.
Luis Enrique’s visitors have won 11 of their last 13 away matches and have won nine of their last 10 matches against Sporting in all competitions.
The statistics continue to support Barcelona with the champions winning at both half-time and full-time in eight of their last 10 matches against Gijon – they’ve also been winning at both half-time and full-time in their last three away.
For their impressive winning at half-time and full-time statistics, I’m backing Barcelona to win both halves at 5/3 with 888 Sport.
It’s come in twice for the Blaugrana already this season and with Sporting losing their last two games, they’ve also conceded eight in their last three, confidence will be low for Abelardo’s hosts.
The home side’s defence has been very leaky, their last clean sheet was against La Liga new boys Alaves in Matchday 2 and Barcelona certainly have the firepower to put Sporting to the sword, scoring at least two goals in 11 of their last 13 away league matches and at least three goals in their last three against the Rojiblancos.
A final point on Barcelona – their front line will consist of Neymar, Luis Suarez and Arda Turan. we all know the quality of the first two and the latter has been in fine form this season too. They may also revert to the 3-4-3 formation that saw them beat Leganes 5-1 last weekend.
Athletic Bilbao v Sevilla | Saturday 17:30 | Sky Sports 2
Right then, hands up if Jorge Sampaoli has proved you wrong already this season – he’s certainly shut me up.
My main worry for the Chilean this season was keeping clean sheets, especially after that exhausting 6-4 opening day win over Espanyol.
Since then, Sevilla have kept three clean sheets in all competitions, conceding just two goals over that five game period. They’ve not been playing poor sides either facing off against Villarreal, Juventus and the small matter of winning Spain’s Greatest Derby against Betis in midweek.
Athletic Bilbao welcome Sevilla to the San Mames this weekend and you can guarantee the Basque fans will provide a fantastic atmosphere, as they always do.
It’s difficult to tip a winner in this game as Sevilla have failed to win their last 21 away matches and have drawn both games on the road this season – instead, I’ve looked into the goals market.
The home side have seen Over 2.5 Goals in their last three matches against Sevilla in all competitions – all of which happened this year. Ernesto Valverde’s side have also seen Over 2.5 Goals land in their last two La Liga games.
This game has all the credentials to be a thriller; Sevilla are still unbeaten this season, whilst Athletic have won their last three games.
This match promises goals and Marathon are offering 13/14 for Over 2.5 Goals, odds I’m more than happy to take.
Atletico Madrid v Deportivo La Coruna | Sunday 15:15 | Sky Sports 2
The biggest criticism of Diego Simeone’s Atleti side last season was there inability to win games by three or four goals, like their title rivals could do.
It looked as if that trend may have continued into this season after Atleti drew their opening games 1-1 and 0-0. However, a change of formation saw Los Colchoneros win their next two games 4-0 and 5-0 and it’s made me love Atleti even more.
The star man Antoine Griezmann is now off and firing, scoring two goals in each of those wins and summer signing Kevin Gameiro has found the back of the net twice whilst settling into his new surroundings.
Angel Correra has also made an impact from the bench scoring with just 22 minutes of game time against Celta Vigo, assisting in just 30 against Sporting Gijon and equalising against Barcelona in the same time frame this week.
Fernando Torres has followed Correra’s example, he scored a brace in 21 minutes against Sporting Gijon and assisted Correra’s goal against Barcelona.
The whole side is starting to click together and look a real threat going forwards.
Meanwhile, Deportivo have had a hugely disappointing start to the season. They only won eight games last season conceding 61 goals over the course of the campaign and are coming off the back of a 2-1 loss to Leganes midweek.
Gaizka Garitano’s side look lost without the departed Lucas Perez and it’s very hard to see where regular goals will come from within their side and could possibly miss their best defender Sidnei for their trip to the Vicente Calderon.
Atletico have won their last 10 home matches against Deportivo and have scored at least two goals in their last six home games against their weekends opponents.
Simeone will be determined to get back to winning ways after their 1-1 draw with Barcelona.
With Atleti free-scoring and Deportivo looking like a relegation side, I’m happy to back the -2 handicap for Atleti at 15/8 with Coral.
Villarreal v Osasuna | Sunday 17:30 | Sky Sports 5
Of the three promoted sides, I’ve been least impressed with Osasuna. They currently sit bottom of the league and are yet to win a game, conceding 10 goals in their five games.
Meanwhile, Villarreal are going under the radar under new manager Fran Escriba. Many, including me, thought the Yellow Submarine would struggle without Marcelino at the helm and after they drew their opening two games I feared the worst for them.
Villarreal then won their next two games and grabbed a draw away to Real Madrid this week. Sitting in sixth and still unbeaten, things are looking positive for the Madrigal faithful who claimed wins in 63% of their home games last season, losing just 16%.
Former Sassuolo forward Nicola Sansone has impressed since his summer move scoring three times in five games, including twice against Real Sociedad in Villarreal’s last home game. Oh and there is the small fact he scored the second from the halfway line!
He’s a wonderful little player, who is averaging 2.60 shots per-game – the most in the Villarreal side. He will most likely lead the line alongside Alex Pato, a partnership that have started to click.
I’m backing Sansone to score anytime and Villarreal to win at 12/5 with Paddy Power. I think Osasuna are in real danger of relegation and this will be a routine win for the home side with Sansone getting himself on the score sheet.
Sporting Gijon v Barcelona – Barcelona to win both halves (5/3 888)
Athletic Bilbao v Sevilla – Over 2.5 Goals (13/14 Marathon)
Atletico Madrid v Deportivo La Coruna – Atletico Madrid -2 handicap (15/8 Coral)
Villarreal v Osasuna – Nicola Sansone to score and Villarreal to win (12/5 Paddy Power)