Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed the holiday break and are ready for round eighteen of the 2012/13 La Liga season. From a betting perspective, I recommend being careful with your stake sizes as many teams are missing key players, mainly through suspension or African Nations duty.
Real Zaragoza v Real Betis
For the third time in two weeks, Zaragoza won away from home – this time against Athletic Bilbao. Apono (penalty) and top scorer Postiga each netted in the 2-0 victory at San Mames.
As feared, Betis came a cropper at home to Mallorca in round seventeen. Benat opened the scoring before the Islanders completed their comeback to win 2-1. All in all, credit to Mallorca, but this game just goes to show that Betis are alarmingly capable of losing to lesser teams at home. A little complacent perhaps – something a side in need of a win can feed off.
Pepe Mel’s boys – who have won five, drawn zero and lost two on their league travels in 2012/13 – can go to La Romareda with confidence, though, as Zaragoza have lost five times on home soil this season – by a 1-0 score every time.
Betis also won here in 2011/12 and have a strong record in recent years. Maybe the first round of games after the holiday break will produce erratic, unexpected results, but it looks like a poor home team vs a good away team.
Recommendation: Betis (3.45)
Worth a small punt: 1-0 Betis win correct score (11.0)
Levante v Athletic Bilbao
Not so great on their travels, Levante lost 3-0 away to Rayo Vallecano in round seventeen. The Valencia based side rarely threatened going forward and their eventual defeat was fair enough if you were watching.
Athletic surprisingly lost 2-0 at home to Zaragoza in the final La Liga game before the holiday break. Bielsa’s Basques had a few good chances but otherwise played poorly and didn’t deserve anything out of the game.
If you are interested in past matchups between Levante and Athletic, Levante won 3-0 in this fixture last season, but Athletic were pre-occupied with cup finals at the time. Otherwise, Athletic have defeated Levante on every occasion the two have met in recent seasons.
In conclusion, at 2.4 the price value is with Levante, who have won five at home. However, Obafemi Martins is suspended – and Athletic have scored in their last five away games so the shorter priced (1.8) both teams to score should also be considered.
Granada v Valencia
Having previously failed to score in several hours of play, Granada surprisingly netted twice in a 2-1 away defeat of Osasuna in Pamplona before the holiday break. Diego Mainz and Dani Benitez were their scorers.
Valencia also won their round 17 game, beating Getafe 4-2 in an entertaining game at the Mestalla. Soldado, Oliveira, Costa and Valdez were the Che scorers in what was new boss Valverde’s first league home win.
In conclusion, despite the fact that Los Che have only won one road game out of eight played, I think that Valencia, like they twice did last season, will have too much for Granada – who have lost striker El Arabi to the African Nations.
Recommendation: Valencia – 0.25 Asian handicap (1.98)
Deportivo La Coruna v Malaga
Crisis club Deportivo had a few early shots on target but otherwise didn’t do enough in the final third of their clash away to Espanyol last weekend and duly lost 2-0.
Malaga kept a tame Real Madrid at bay in the first half of their round seventeen clash at La Rosaleda, before taking the game to Los Blancos with an attack minded second half – one that yielded great dividend in their entertaining 3-2 win.
In recent away games, Malaga have (fortuitously) defeated Sevilla, lost to Getafe and drawn 0-0 with Osasuna and Espanyol. All in all, you have to say your safest option is draw no bet if you’re considering backing Malaga.
However, the Anchovies have the league’s best defence, their last five league away games have gone under 2.5 goals and Deportivo – who now have their regular defence back after shipping goals without them – have failed to score in their last three games.
Recommendation: Under 2.5 goals (1.95)
Sevilla v Osasuna
As you would expect given their poor away record of one win, three draws and five La Liga defeats in 2012/13, Michel’s Sevilla lost 2-1 away to Real Sociedad prior to the holiday break.
Osasuna also lost their last game 2-1, but at home to Granada. Nino opened the scoring for Mendilibar’s side, before goal-shy Granada –who hadn’t scored in several hours of football prior to this game – made their comeback.
With regards to today’s matchup, it looks like a clear home win, but I’ll admit to be being slightly put off by the fact that Sevilla have lost their last two home games (to Valladolid and Malaga).
Sure, Sevilla need to get back to winning ways at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan and nineteenth placed Osasuna – a team they haven’t lost at home to for many years – are a good opponent to facilitate that.
But it seems wiser to bet on goal related markets with Osa undefeated in their last three away games and six out of the last seven Sevilla games containing at least three goals.
Recommendation: Over 2.5 goals (1.98)
Celta de Vigo v Valladolid
By a somewhat lesser score than expected, Celta lost away to Atletico Madrid in round seventeen. A solitary goal decided the game in Atleti’s favour, and Celta – who have a 2-1 Copa del Rey first round lead to defend against Real Madrid soon – must now get back to winning ways against a Valladolid team bereft of its best attackers.
Valladolid, who lost 3-1 at home to Barca in their last La Liga game, travel to Vigo without Ebert (injury), Oscar (suspension) and Manucho (African Nations). Interestingly, Valladolid have scored twenty-three La Liga goals this season and those three are responsible for scoring sixteen off them, with eleven accumulative assists.
In conclusion, I expect Celta, who haven’t won a league game in two months, to take all three points today. But with seven out of the last eight Celta home games going under 2.5 goals and the visitors missing so many offensive players, the under goals seem like the best bet.
Recommendation: Under 2.5 goals (1.74)
Worth a small punt: Celta – 1 Asian handicap (3.03)
Real Madrid v Real Sociedad
With current Los Blancos coach Jose Mourinho seemingly making a power play within the club by dropping goalkeeper Iker Casillas for Real Madrid’s trip to Malaga, his charges, not unexpectedly considering recent results, lost 3-2 away to Malaga.
Well contained in the first half, Real were outplayed by their opponents in the second and cannot have any complaints about their defeat. With their first an own goal from Malaga’s Sergio Sanchez, Benzema was Real’s scorer.
Real Sociedad, on a cold evening in Basque country two weeks ago, defeated Sevilla 2-1 in round seventeen. Vela and Del La Bella were their scorers.
In conclusion, Los Blancos are in terrible form with (in all competitions) two defeats and a draw in their last three games, but they have enough individual offensive talent to beat La Real today and I expect them to do just that.
However, despite their form, the price about a Real win is far too short and it doesn’t seem like the right time to trust them in a minus handicap. Instead, with Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Raul Albiol and Pepe all missing, I’m going for both teams to score.
Recommendation: Both teams to score (1.91)
Barcelona v Espanyol
With Xavi, Messi and Tello the scorers, Barca defeated Valladolid 3-1 on their own turf prior to the holiday break. It took the Catalans a while to open the scoring, but it was a comfortable win in the end and Barca remain undefeated in 2012/13 La Liga.
Cross City rivals Espanyol also won their last game – at home to Crisis club Deportivo. Simao and substitute Stuani each scored in the 2-0 win. Espanyol, since Javier Aguirre took the reins, have drawn twice and won once – making them undefeated under the Mexican.
Something tells me that Aguirre’s undefeated streak won’t last the weekend! But his charges do go into this clash with a higher level of confidence and team spirit than they would have had a month ago, and if Barca start slow it’s possible that Espanyol can keep the score close.
Espanyol + 1.25 first half handicap and + 2.75 match might prove to be a good bets at 1.96 and 1.97 respectively under such circumstances, but it takes a brave punter to place such wagers. Instead, with the match over goals mark too high for me at 4.5 and first half goals too short priced, both teams to score is worth a derby punt at 2.4.
Worth a punt: Both teams to score (2.4)
Mallorca v Atletico Madrid
Despite going a goal down early on, Mallorca, who were previously without a win in their last fifteen games in all competitions, came back to defeat Real Betis 2-1 in Seville two weeks ago.
Victor, with a well placed header, started the Islanders comeback, with the returning Javi Marquez completing it from the penalty spot. All in all, you have to credit to Mallorca for this win, but the penalty they benefited from was somewhat fortuitous with contact occurring outside the box.
Atletico continued their undefeated league home record in 2012/13 by beating Celta Vigo 1-0 at the Vicente Calderon in round seventeen. It was lethargic performance from Atleti, with Adrian scoring the winner.
With regards to today’s game, it looks like a straight forward away win with Atleti available at a good price, but then Falcao, Arda and Miranda are all missing through suspension.
I would still expect Simeone’s charges to take all three points as Raul Garcia, Adrian and Diego Costa are all good players, but it should be closer than people expect – with 0-1 my favoured choice.
Recommendation: Under 2.5 goals (1.83)
Worth a small punt: Correct score of 1-0 Atletico (8.0)
Rayo Vallecano v Getafe
Madrid based Rayo comfortably defeated Levante 3-0 on home soil prior to the holiday break. Martinez opened the scoring with a spectacular strike into the top corner, before Piti and Vasquez finished Levante off.
Getafe, who have now scored in seven of their eight La Liga away games in 2012/13, netted twice – through Alvaro and Alexis – away to Valencia in round seventeen, but ultimately lost 4-2.
In conclusion, my natural inclination is to bet on both teams scoring, but then star Getafe player Barrada is away at the African Cup of Nations and Levante have kept clean sheets in two of their last three (league) home games.
Instead, with Rayo generally being a good home team and the price acceptable, I’ll go with a win for Paco Jemez and his charges.
Recommendation: Rayo – 0.25 Asian handicap (2.02)