Saturday, January 7th
Levante v Mallorca
Home win: 19/20 Draw: 23/10 Away win: 3/1
Betting Tip: Levante begin 2012 as La Liga’s fourth placed side after an annus mirabilis in 2011. After securing promotion from the Liga Adelante, Juan Ignacio Martinez inspired his troops to the outright lead of the Primera Division at one point before things started to slide away. Levante have since gone on to win only two of their last seven league games with a couple of Copa del Rey losses in to boot, but they’ll be looking to get back on track against the ever obdurate Mallorca. The islanders’ stay in the top flight looked in jeopardy after a dismal start but they patched things up before the winter break and will be keen to consolidate a mid-table finish. Given rustiness after the restart, back the draw at 23/10.
Santander v Zaragoza
Home win: Evens Draw: 23/10 Away win: 11/4
Betting Tip: Santander and Zaragoza are propping up the rest of the table and have some serious work to do if they are to avoid relegation. Zaragoza are particularly useless. Just one win from their last nine La Liga games sees them lie five points adrift of the drop-zone as they enter the crucial second half of the season. Santander’s disastrous start to the campaign has much to do with them being down there and indeed they’ve only lost two of their last eight league fixtures. That said, they have only won two in this streak. Zaragoza are without an away win all year and that shouldn’t change and with evens for the Santander win a bit stingy, back them with under 3.5 goals at 29/20.
Real Sociedad v Osasuna
Home win: 6/5 Draw: 21/10 Away win: 12/5
Betting Tip: Osasuna are once again over-achieving and will be looking to cement their current Europa League spot. Los Rojillos have only lost three times all season and predictably two of them were to Barca and Real. They’ve won five of their last eight and lost just once during this time. Sociedad also perked up before the new year and are currently unbeaten in five after picking up just four points from a possible 27 before that. A lot depends on how these sides shake off a three-week sabbatical but Osasuna should have enough to pinch the win at 12/5.
Real Madrid v Granada
Home win: 1/20 Draw: 21/2 Away win: 33/1
Betting Tip: Use whichever prince versus pauper cliché you want to summarise this clash. The whole of Granada’s squad are probably on less per week than Jose Mourinho’s stylist yet still they hold their own. Granada were tipped by most to go straight back down and it was looking that way for a large part of the first half of the season before they shuffled up to a lofty 13th place after winning four of their last seven outings. All that is pretty immaterial though because Madrid pummel whoever they play at the Bernabeu bar Barca. Los Blancos have crashed in four goals per game on average and although nuggety Granada rarely fall to pieces, they’d better get used to kicking-off on Saturday night. Karim Benzema to score two or more is 11/4.
Malaga v Atletico Madrid
Home win: 6/5 Draw: 23/10 Away win: 11/5
Betting Tip: Atletico Madrid are the longstanding comedic shambles of Spanish football and they’ve obligingly lived up to that billing so far this term. After a bountiful summer replenishment they’ve already replaced acquired coach Gregorio Manzano with Diego Simeone and the Vicente Calderon faithful will have to hope the Argentinian growler installs some fight and pride into his charges. Atletico have already lost seven of their 16 league ties this season including five of their last eight. They’ve lost six from seven on the road and that record could be further muddied by a Malaga side strong on their own patch. After heavy pre-season investment, Los Boquerones will be slightly disappointed with only being seventh at this juncture but rebuilt teams take time to gel. A win with over 2.5 goals here at 5/2 should help get them on their way.
Sunday January 8th
Rayo Vallecano v Sevilla
Home win: 21/10 Draw: 21/10 Away win: 27/20
Betting Tip: Vallecano are another one of those sides doing their best impression of someone trying to get relegated. They picked up a solitary point from their last five before Christmas and are only a point above the trapdoor. Sevilla are in the midst of an unremarkable campaign and are a shadow of the double UEFA Cup winning team of a few years back. Despite an abundance of forward threats they struggle to score many but Vallecano fade badly after the interval. Pick a draw at half-time with Sevilla to pip it at 19/4.
Getafe v Athletic Bilbao
Home win: 29/20 Draw: 11/5 Away win: 37/20
Betting Tip: These two sit contently in mid-table but while Getafe will be relatively pleased, Athletic will have designs on reclaiming the Europa League spot they achieved last season. Both have been difficult to beat of late with Getafe undefeated in six at home while Bilbao have gone five without a loss on the road. Neither score many and draw plenty so get on the 1-1 draw at 5/1.
Villarreal v Valencia
Home win: 21/10 Draw: 11/5 Away win: 13/10
Betting Tip: Villarreal sacked coach Juan Carlos Garrido and replaced him with Jose Francisco Molina before Christmas hoping to arrest an alarming fall from Champions League qualifiers to relegation candidates. The Yellow Submarine have submerged to the depths of La Liga after an awful first half in which they’ve won three games and lost seven. They’ve won only one of their last six yet form at El Madrigal remains decent enough having succumbed just once and that might be enough to keep them afloat. Valencia are bobbing along merrily in their customary third place and can do little other than head the best of the rest. Los Che don’t score too many and with a new gaffer in charge at home, Villarreal can resume proceedings with the 11/5 draw.
Real Betis v Sporting Gijon
Home win: 17/20 Draw: 12/5 Away win: 13/4
Betting Tip: The winter break came at the wrong time for Betis who signed off with strong victories over Valencia and Atletico to end a run of one point from ten games. They have the perfect opportunity to regain some momentum against a Gijon side occupying the final relegation place. However, Gijon have won two and drawn one of their last four away. Gijon are La Liga’s worst team in the first 45 minutes but I think they’ve got enough for a draw by the end. Betis/draw at half time/full time is well priced at 27/2.
Espanyol v Barcelona
Home win: 12/1 Draw: 19/4 Away win: 11/50
Betting Tip: Barcelona left La Liga as Spanish and European champions and return as world champions. Apart from that, the more things change the more they stay the same. The Catalan giants have won their last eight on the spin scoring 37 goals and having just one put past them and last time they ventured over to neighbours Espanyol they sauntered back as 5-1 victors. Espanyol are neither here nor there and will be pleased to hold on to eight place but even with Barca’s iffy away form, there’s only one winner here. Barcelona to win with over 3.5 goals is 31/20.
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