Madrid residents like to moan about the oppressive summer heat in their city but it was the performance of eternal rivals Barcelona on the season’s opening weekend which is making Real’s players hot under the collar.
The Catalans crushed Real Sociedad 5-1 at the Nou Camp to become 3/4 favourites to retake their La Liga crown. The victory was an impressive start to life under Tito Vilanova, with Lionel Messi on song and David Villa returning to the side with a goal after an eight-month injury absence.
Champions Real can now be backed at evens for more title glory this season. Despite a lacklustre 1-1 draw at home to Valencia last night, that looks a great way to double your money.
The negatives were there for all to see, with numerous chances wasted and Cristiano Ronaldo looking unusually off colour. However, the team should soon get into the swing of things and a two-point deficit at the very start of the season won’t be worrying Jose Mourinho, whose masterful exercises in siege mentality have seen him claim seven league titles as a manager.
Mourinho’s personality is designed to deflect attention away from his players and on to himself. The managers do seem to hold the key to the La Liga title race though, with only a pair of summer signings made by the top two so far (Barcelona’s swoops for Jordi Alba and Alex Song).
While Vilanova has huge background expertise within the Barcelona set-up, there is no indication yet as to whether he can keep his charges fully motivated over a long season. A gamble on an untested coach is surely poor value when Mourinho’s nailed-on credentials can be backed at longer odds.
A pair of Super Cup clasicos over the next week have the potential to sway the league title odds as well as invoking memories of last season’s famous contest in which Mourinho poked Vilanova, who was then Pep Guardiola’s assistant, in the eye.
And while the Portuguese maestro will be keen to secure the first silverware of the new campaign it would be no surprise to see him have another one in the eye for Vilanova come next May.
New customers can register here to claim a free £20 bet or click here to see all our La Liga odds.
Follow us on Twitter @bwin