MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) has trawled through the La Liga coupon to bring us the best bets from Spain this weekend.
Granada v Atletico Madrid | Saturday 17.15 | Sky Sports 2
Quiz question: which La Liga team is currently enjoying the longest unbeaten streak? Answer: Atletico Madrid.
The Mattress Makers haven’t lost in seven league outings (W5-D2-L0) and are on a roll. Diego Simeone’s side have won five on the spin and W8-D3-L0 in all competitions now thanks to their midweek Copa del Rey success.
Last weekend the capital club maintained their place in second spot by edging out Espanyol, racking up an eighth La Liga clean sheet. Los Colchoneros are incredibly robust, hard-working and well-drilled, teams just can’t find a way into Atletico’s penalty area leaving goalkeeper Jan Oblak a mere spectactor.
This weekend they travel to Los Carmenes to take on perennial strugglers Granada and it would take a brave punter to bet against the Simeone juggernaut. The capital club have W7-D6-L1 in their past 14 top-flight away days, churning out nine clean sheets.
This term, Atletico have recorded four wins ‘to nil’ in six away games. Sure, they’re not scoring heaps (more than twice just once in their past 15 on the road) but they’re mighty efficient; winning nine of their last 13 at bottom-six clubs with eight of those by a margin of two goals or more.
With such a strong defence and rather unspectacular strike-rate, it opens up a few options for us on Saturday evening. Granada have lost just once in seven (W1-D5-L1) but Jose Ramon Sandoval's side went down to Segunda side Leganes in the Copa del Rey midweek, have kept a solitary shutout this season and managed just six goals in six home games.
The hosts have lost six of their last eight meetings with Atletico, scoring once. Six of those eight contests featured fewer than three goals and going further back, the Andalusians are winless against Atletico since 1973 (W0-D4-L9), failing to net in nine of those 13 head-to-heads.
Of El Grana’s past 24 at Los Carmenes, 18 delivered fewer than three goals and that’s been the case in nine of Atletico Madrid’s past 10 with six ending in either 1-0 or 2-0 victories for Simeone’s troops. Indeed, five of their past 10 at bottom-six strugglers ended in a 2-0 win with only three featuring three or more goals.
Granada are without central midfielder Javi Marquez and that’s a major blow. They’ve managed just one victory in the last 22 he’s missed, netting a paltry 12 times.
So lets be adventurous and back Atleti to win in the correct score markets – 1-0 is 43/10 with 888 and 2-0 is 6/1 with 888 – these two results would have covered 21 of Atletico’s last 35 away La Liga wins – that’s 60%.
Real Sociedad v Eibar | Sunday 11.00 | Sky Sports Interactive
Ridiculous price of the week? Real Sociedad at odds-on to win.
David Moyes might have left La Real and although they did beat Sevilla 2-0 at Anoeta in the first fixture after his sacking but even so, the hosts look too short for this Basque derby.
Sociedad have lost five of their last seven including a 4-0 thumping at Barcelona last weekend and they’ve scraped together just W1-D2-L3 on home soil.
Asier Illarramendi returns from a ban, but Ruben Pardo is forced to sit out due to suspension and their remains just too much pressure on Imanol Agirretxe to grab the goals in the final third – he’s scored nine of La Real’s 14 goals.
But what about Eibar? Jose Luis Mendilibar’s has worked miracles in the off-season to bring the minnows back into competitive contention once more. They’re supremely organised and tough to breakdown with only the league’s big-three beating them in 2015/16 (W5-D5-L0 when excluding Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico).
Adrian will replace suspended Gonzalo Escalante in midfield as Armeros bid to extend an away record that’s seen them lost just once, against European champions Barca (W2-D3-L1). OK that opposition haven’t been world beaters on their travels but even so, even-money on Eibar to avoid defeat? Thanks, 888.
Villarreal v Rayo Vallecano | Sunday 15.00 | Sky Sports 3
At the start of October, Villarreal were sitting pretty at the top of the La Liga table having taken 16 points from a possible 18 in their first six encounters of 2015/16. But since, a serious case of vertigo has hit the Yellow Submarine, who head into the weekend clinging on to a top-six spot by a solitary point.
A return of just W1-D2-L4 wasn’t what head coach Marcelinho had ordered but the Yellows have a decent chance of getting back to winning ways on Sunday afternoon. Having managed merely two goals in their last four games, Roberto Soldado and Jaume Costa return from suspension as Villarreal prepare to welcome Rayo Vallecano.
It’s a fixture the Yellow Submarine tend to saviour. They’ve come out on top in their last four when hosting the capital club, scoring at least four goals on each occasion. And Marcelinho’s men tend to do their best work in front of their adoring home fans, dispatching 10 of the last 12 bottom-half dwellers at El Madrigal.
In fact, the Yellows have triumphed in all bar two of their home La Liga matches this term (W4-D1-L1) but have kept just one clean sheet in the process. Looking further back, the Yellow Submarine have run out winners in 20 of their last 28 contests at home across all competitions, keeping just six shutouts in their most recent 18.
Taking purely La Liga games into account, Villarreal have W14-D2-L4 as hosts but only kept their sheets clean in three of the most recent 13 when welcoming La Liga opposition. With Mario Gaspar sidelined, Antonio Rukavina may be rushed back to start at right-back, weakening their prospects of enhancing that below-par record.
Rayo are winless on the road in four (W0-D1-L3), have lost each of their last eight visits to top-six sides (trailing at the interval in each) and will be without their talisman Roberto Trashorras on Sunday. But they have managed to score in 18 of their 25 away days in the Spanish top-flight since 2014/15 and can do so again this weekend.
Former Cardiff striker Javi Guerra has already scored eight goals in La Liga this season and is most definitely capable of making his mark at El Madrigal. Rayo have been involved in 13/25 (52%) of successful Both Teams To Score bets since the start of last season and should play their part in another goal-heavy game.
Whilst Paco’s Jemez’s troops have mastered a sumptuous possession-based game, they still remain hugely vulnerable at the back. No La Liga side has conceded more goals from inside the penalty area and ultimately their defensive woes are likely to catch-up on them again. So rather than a straight play on the BTTS market, I’m going to include a Villarreal win alongside it for a handsome 5/2 (888).
Athletic Bilbao v Malaga | Sunday 19.30 | Sky Sports 3
‘Hello Athletic, nice to see you.’
It took them a while but like the cool kid at school not turning up to a house party until near midnight, Les Leones have finally arrived and are ready to…party.
Ernesto Valverde’s squad have roared into life with eight wins in their last nine, scoring at least twice in six of their past seven La Liga fixtures.
At their San Mames home, Athletic have won every league fixture bar the meetings with Real Madrid and Barcelona and against bottom-six opposition they’ve enjoyed W-W double results in seven of their last 11 in the Basque Country.
Aymeric Laporte misses out through suspension but Carlos Gurpegi should slot into the centre of the back four alongside Borja Etxeita and with Aritz Aduriz blasting his way into Spanish national team contention at the ripe old age of 34 (20 goals in 23 appearances this season), Les Leones have the armoury to take down Malaga reasonably comfortably on Sunday night.
888 are offering 13/15 on Athletic -1 in the Asian Handicap market and so if the hosts win by a solitary goal, we’ll get our cash back. If they win by two or more goals, our bet is deemed a winner with a home defeat the only way in which we’ll end up out of pocket.
Athletic haven’t lost to Malaga at San Mames since 2005 and shouldn’t really be troubled by the Europe’s lowest league scorers in 2015/16 (they’ve netted just seven). Javi Gracia's travellers have failed to score in 10 of their 13 La Liga contests including all six away from the Costa del Sol.
The Anchovies have been beaten in 11 of their previous 13 on their travels and are without Fernando Tissone this weekend. Gracia’s teetering on the brink and Spain’s rock bottom side are unlikely to turn the corner in Bilbao.
Granada v Atletico Madrid – Atletico Madrid to win 1-0 (43/10 888)
Granada v Atletico Madrid – Atletico Madrid to win 2-0 (6/1 888)
Villarreal v Rayo Vallecano – Villarreal to win and Both Teams To Score (5/2 888)
Real Sociedad v Eibar – Eibar double chance (1/1 888)
Athletic Bilbao v Malaga – Athletic Bilbao -1 Asian Handicap (13/15 888)
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