There was a deluge of late goals across last weekend’s La Liga programme, nearly all of which fell nicely for the leading contenders for a top-four finish.
And the great news for punters seeking some value prices is that the bwin bookies seemingly can’t pick between a trio of potential Champions League qualifiers in Malaga, Sevilla and Valencia.
But we start with high-flying Atletico Madrid, for whom Radamel Falcao curled a final-minute free-kick into the net to squeeze another three points at Real Sociedad.
Atletico’s odds of a top-four finish have duly been cut to 1/10, which is justified by their scintillating recent form. Seven wins and a draw in the opening eight games of the season has lifted them to second, behind Barcelona only on goal difference.
Diego Simeone’s men have surpassed all expectations thus far, but punters are advised to remember the Primera Division season has quite some distance to run – and that Atleti have historically been prone to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Only five points off the pace of Atletico in third place are Malaga, who have shed fears about their financial difficulties impacting on the field with a composed start to the campaign.
The Anchovies are still priced at 9/4 for the top four having sealed a 2-1 home win over Real Valladolid with a full three minutes to spare on Saturday after going behind. That price could prove to be a snip if Malaga’s reduced squad stays injury-free.
Sevilla are also available at 9/4 after moving up to fifth with a second-half comeback providing a 3-2 home win over Mallorca. The inspired form of winger Jesus Navas and their strong record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan (beating Real Madrid 1-0, for example) certainly give Sevilla a decent shout of being up there next May.
The remaining side in our trio of hopefuls is Valencia, whose 9/4 odds perhaps derive more from their record of finishing in the top four for the last three seasons in a row.
Los Che have been slow out of the blocks this time around under the guidance of Mauricio Pellegrino, who replaced Unai Emery in the summer. While the new coach struggles to impose his identity on the side, Valencia have found it tough covering for the loss of Jordi Alba to Barcelona in the summer.
Smashing two goals in the last three minutes to brush past Athletic Bilbao 3-2 should breed renewed confidence and Valencia are currently a mere three points short of fourth place, which is occupied by Real Madrid.
If perennial goal grabber Roberto Soldado and in-form French playmaker Sofiane Feghouli can stay fit, Pellegrino’s men should hang on to the chasing pack in the coming weeks.