REAL MADRID resume their La Liga campaign on Sunday evening with a visit from Eibar. Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) to set the scene and share his best bets.
Real Madrid v Eibar | Sunday 14th June 2020, 18:30 | La Liga
Real Madrid host Eibar in a must-win game should they stand any chance of pipping Barcelona to the La Liga title. In truth, Madrid probably need to win all 11 of their remaining league fixtures and hope their rivals slip up if they are to overtake them and be celebrating come 19th July.
Club legend Zinedine Zidane is in his second spell in charge as manager, resigning in 2018 despite steering the club to three successive Champions League crowns and domestic league success in 2016/17. Zidane has always had his critics in his time in charge of Los Blancos but has perhaps come under unnecessary scrutiny as a result of insanely high expectations from Madrid’s fans and President Floretino Perez.
It’s true to say that results at times have been patchy this season but it appears that Perez is sticking with his man for now, giving him a vote of confidence before the recent El Clasico victory over Barcelona.
Ahead of the restart, Zidane has been preparing his team to play in unusual surroundings. Of course there will be the element of playing behind closed doors but to add to the irregular theme, Madrid will be playing at their reserve team ground named after one of their greatest ever players – Alberto di Stefano.
The ground becomes the 100th to host a La Liga match and it will be interesting to see if playing there has any effect on the Madrid squad, unable to play at the Bernabeu due to ongoing renovations of the great old stadium.
From a tactical perspective, this game looks intriguing. Eibar’s high-pressing has entertained supporters but not brought about much luck in terms of results with the team currently hovering just above the relegation zone in 16th place.
In the reverse game, Eibar’s press was ruthlessly picked off as Madrid cruised to a 4-0 victory. The left flank saw a lot of joy with Ferland Mendy, Federico Valverde and Eden Hazard enjoying the space in behind afforded to them and Eibar coach José Luis Mendilibar was criticised by some of the Spanish press for ‘tactical suicide’.
That left side of the pitch bringing plenty of joy is an angle I want to try and exploit here as, whichever set of players start there out of Mendy/Marcelo and Vinicius Junior/Hazard, the Eibar defence will be kept busy. Madrid right-back Dani Carvajal is not quite as adventurous as his teammate on the opposite side so expect Marcelo, who is likely to start here, to hug the touchline regularly high up the pitch.
Right-back under pressure
Eibar are without Ivan Ramis through injury so it looks likely that Anaitz Arbilla will be deployed at right-back. The 33 year-old returned to team training later than the rest of his teammates following initial refusal to take part for safety reasons, so he is a few days behind the rest of the squad in terms of readiness.
The right-back in that aforementioned 4-0 hammering, Pablo de Blasis, attempted a whopping eight tackles and landed three with Arbilla himself successfully registering four tackles across the 90 minutes from right-sided centre-back. In his four games at right-back, Arbilla has racked up 10 tackles and if Eibar persist with the high-press style, he could be left in plenty of one-on-one situations with either Hazard or Vinicius.
Only two teams have attacked more down the left flank than Madrid this season at 41% and only one side – title rivals Barcelona – have completed more dribbles so Arbilla and company will have to be at their best to keep their opposite numbers at bay.
Taking all that into consideration, the Arbilla 2+ and 3+ tackles prices available with PokerStars, priced at 10/11 and 18/5 respectively, look too good to ignore. I’m happy to have a two-point stake on the lower line, with a point on the latter. The 2+ tackle price is as short as 2/13 elsewhere with other bookies starting their lines at 3+, so there’s certainly some value on our side here.
Eibar have earned a lot of plaudits and admirers from afar since their promotion to La Liga in 2014. The tiny club, based in the Basque hills, are a hipsters dream because of their journey to the top flight and the way they play football but have found this season a real struggle.
Coincidentally, three of the players in the current squad have actually played on this ground before when they lined up against Madrid’s reverse side – the Castilla – back in that promotion campaign so the scenery won’t be totally alien to the group.
Might Madrid hard to oppose
However, against Madrid’s first team and fellow top side Barca, Eibar’s record across the five seasons across their now five-and-a-half seasons in La Liga does not read very well. In 23 matches played against the giants, Eibar have lost on 20 of those occasions and have suffered defeat by more than one goal in 18 of those losses.
For my third bet therefore, I want to factor Madrid in to win on the -1 handicap but will combine it with Over 3.5 Corners for Madrid and a second half goal for the home side. That price is 63/50 with Betfair’s when putting the trio together with Betfair’s same game multi feature.
Madrid are, on average, earning over six corners per-game at home and the size of the pitch at their reserve team ground is the same as at the Bernabeu, so I wouldn’t be worried about that having too much of an effect on their ability to earn a few flag kicks, especially as they should be on the front foot throughout.
Eibar meanwhile are conceding five corners per game on average, so I’m confident to add in the Over 3.5 line to the bet.
On the second half goal element, Madrid have bagged 29 of their 49 strikes this season in the second 45 minutes of matches with Eibar also conceding more in the second half than the first. If Los Armeros press as intensely as they normally do (more pressures on the ball when out of possession than any other La Liga side), they are likely to tire and that will only play to Madrid’s advantage.
This is a big match for both teams but for very different reasons. Madrid and Eibar are desperate for points, but it’s hard to see past the capital club for a win here but the player prop plays gives us added interest.
Real Madrid v Eibar – Anaitz Arbilla 2+ Tackles (10/11 PokerStars)
Real Madrid v Eibar – Anaitz Arbilla 3+ Tackles (18/5 PokerStars)
Real Madrid v Eibar – Real Madrid -1 Handicap; Real Madrid Over 3.5 Corners; Real Madrid Over 0.5 Second Half Goals (63/50 Betfair)