ANOTHER two winners from three at the weekend for Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) in La Liga. Can he continue his hot streak on Tuesday night?
Atletico Madrid v Real Sociedad | Tuesday 19.00 | Sky Sports 5
Atletico Madrid delivered the European NAP for us on Saturday with a routine 2-0 victory over struggling Cordoba. It was their first away win since January and with Valencia dropping points at home to Villarreal, allowed Diego Simeone’s men to leap back into third place as the race for Champions League qualification positions intensifies.
Los Rojiblancos return to the Vicente Calderon this week looking to collect another three points and enhance their outstanding record in front of their home supporters. Since Simeone took the reigns, Atleti have returned astonishingly good figures on home soil, W47-D10-L6. They’ve suffered just one league reverse in their last 35 league fixtures at the Calderon.
There are a few selection concerns for the Argentine hard-man. Moya and Raul Garcia are joined on the treatment table by Mario Mandzukic and Diego Godin whilst Juanfran misses out due to suspension. But Miranda returns and Fernando Torres should be given a starting berth as he continues to rebuild his reputation with a number of promising displays.
I’ve defended and applauded the work that David Moyes has carried out since moving to Spain and his Real Sociedad side are now sitting safe – 12 points above the relegation zone. But La Real are 13 points off a European place and will now be focussing on the 2014/15 campaign with little to play for bar pride between now and the end of the season.
At the weekend they picked up a point at La Rosaleda against Malaga, with a late Pardo strike cancelling out Recio’s opener but they were slightly fortunate. It was another hard-working display and Moyes’ boys continue to show the fighting spirit we’re accustomed to seeing from the Scot’s sides.
It’s 10 points from their last 12 but Sociedad make the journey south with their own selection problems, Carlos Vela’s recovery from a knee problem hit a hitch last week and the Mexican may be rested whilst the visitors will also be missing both first-choice central defenders, with Ion Ansotegi and Inigo Martinez suspended for the Basque club's visit to the capital.
With just one away win in 15 La Liga outings, it’s not ideal. I’d love to find an angle to support Sociedad again but the logical play is to get with Atletico. They’ve won six of their last seven home La Liga games, keeping clean sheets in four and they’ll continue to maintain an extremely effective and organised unit.
Having scored at least twice in 13 of their 15 Calderon clashes in the league, the Asian Handicap could be an option but the prices are prohibitive with Moyes’ teams rarely suffering big defeats. So instead, I’ll take the 10/11 from BetVictor that Atletico are ahead at both half-time and full-time in the Double Result (HT-FT) market.
With Simeone in charge, the hosts have led at half-time in 40/63 (63%) of fixtures with 36/63 (57%) proving profitable for Double Result punters. La Real have returned W6-D14-L13 figures on the road since the start of last season, have W0-D2-L7 of their last nine trips to top-half teams and trailed at the break in seven of those nine encounters.
With neither Ansotegi nor Inigo Martinez available to nit the defence together, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Los Rojiblancos take the initiative early on and seal maximum points.
Levante v Sevilla | Tuesday 21.00
Two teams in search of vital points at opposite ends of the table meet on Tuesday night as Levante entertain Sevilla. And with a clear shift in philosophies from Lucas Alcaraz’s hosts, I’d like to think the 10/11 quotes from 888 Sport on Over 2.5 Goals could look too big come 11pm.
Levante started the season feebly, looking to pinch a 0-0 on the road and playing out dour, dull matches at their Ciutat de València base. But with José Luis Mendilibar axed and Alcaraz taking over, Les Granotes have begun to play more progressively. Their 4-1 weekend win at Almeria highlighted the change with David Barral helping himself to a hat-trick.
It’s four wins in eight for the home side now and that run includes three victories from their last four in front of their home supporters. Ivan Ramis returns from suspension to bolster the defence and I’m just not prepared to put money on Sevilla at odds-on quotes away from home.
Sure, Unai Emery’s men are flying at the minute. They’ve bagged four consecutive La Liga wins but their road record of W7-D0-L7 isn’t enough to tempt me in on Los Rojiblancos. Four of those losses came at the top-four and although Getafe are the only notable team to upset Sevilla, it’s just not a price worth gambling on.
Instead, I’m keen to explore the goals markets. With Levante opening up in their fight for survival, goals have been commonplace. Their last four as hosts have averaged three goals-per-game and overall this season 7/14 (50%) have featured Over 2.5 Goals at Ciutat de València with only one clean sheet to their name across those 14 fixtures.
Ten of their last 12 games when hosting top-six teams have broken the two-goal barrier and although Sevilla may have shut out five of their last seven league opposition, only 4/14 have been kept in away games this season.
The visitors have scored at least twice in six of their last seven and I’d anticipate they’d need to net twice if they are to pick up maximum points. With 9/14 (64%) of Los Rojiblancos’ road trips delivering in the Over 2.5 Goals column, we should be expecting odds of around 3/4 for a repeat but luckily for us, 888 Sport are offering 10/11. It's the value bet.
Atletico Madrid v Real Sociedad – Atletico Madrid HT-FT (10/11 BetVictor)
Levante v Sevilla – Over 2.5 Goals (10/11 888 Sport)
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