Saturday, January 14th
Sevilla v Espanyol
Home win: 3/4 Draw: 5/2 Away win: 15/4
Betting Tip: Sevilla are armed with the individual quality to be in the shake-up for the Champions League slots but their performances of late mean they are quickly merging in with the mediocrity. Los Nervionenses have only won two of ten league games and went down at Vallecano last weekend although confidence should have been partially restored with a midweek Copa del Rey win over rivals Valencia. Espanyol are bobbing along merrily in eighth place and last weekend’s deserved draw with Barcelona made it just one loss from seven in all competitions. Sevilla have only beaten Espanyol once in the last four games on this ground and the visitors look good to take at least a draw at 5/2 from this.
Granada v Vallecano
Home win: 6/5 Draw: 9/4 Away win: 9/4
Betting Tip: Granada were routed 5-1 at the Bernabeu last weekend but not many sides come away from there with anything other than a hiding. Otherwise it’s been a relatively pleasing return to La Liga for El Grana yet they’re still just three points above the bottom three. A defeat of Sevilla last time out moved Vallecano into mid-table after flirting with the bottom but again they’re only three points from trouble. These two are similar in stature and standing but interestingly Granada are one of the worst performing first-half sides with Vallecano ranked eighth at the break. A Vallecano lead at half-time followed by the draw is a mammoth 27/2 and well worth a couple of quid.
Zaragoza v Getafe
Home win: 31/20 Draw: 23/10 Away win: 33/20
Betting Tip: Things are looking pretty gruesome for Zaragoza who now find themselves seven points adrift of safety after yet another defeat last weekend. Los Blanquillos have now picked up just a single point from their last ten La Liga ties and appear destined for the drop unless they can dramatically arrest that slide soon. Getafe visit La Romareda on Saturday on the back of just one loss in five games and although they’re pulling up few trees themselves, they’ll have enough to go back with the draw at 23/10.
Mallorca v Real Madrid
Home win: 21/2 Draw: 9/2 Away win: 1/4
Betting Tip: Real Madrid have won 21 of their last 22 games in all competitions with the only exception of course being the loss to Barcelona in El Clasico. The Catalan outfit might have been the better side on the day but it is Real making all the running this season and they now sit on a cosy five point lead over the champions. The other 21 games in that sequence have seen Los Blancos plunder 79 goals so few, including me, give Mallorca much chance of stopping Jose Mourinho’s machine. The Islanders are hanging around inoffensively in 14th spot and their campaigns are usually based around a strong home record. However, Mallorca have won only won one of the last six on their own patch and they won’t improve that record as Real will win with plenty to spare. A multiple correct score of 2-1, 3-1 or 4-1 Real is 14/5.
Valencia v Real Sociedad
Home win: 19/50 Draw: 7/2 Away win: 29/4
Betting Tip: It’s another deja vu season for Valencia who once again find themselves planted in their traditional berth of third place. Not as good as Barca and Real but better than the rest is the familiar theme and seven home wins from eight with a defeat to Madrid in between illustrates the divide. Opponents Sociedad have pulled themselves out of the relegation zone in recent weeks after going six without defeat but a trip to the Mestalla will be a bridge too far. Valencia 2-0 is 11/2.
Sunday, January 15th
Atletico Madrid v Villarreal
Home win: 31/50 Draw: 11/4 Away win: 17/4
Betting Tip: These two began the season with great expectations but begin the second half scrambling for a bit of respectability. Atletico have already replaced Gregorio Manzano with Diego Simeone in an attempt to pull themselves up from eleventh while Villarreal’s top four finish last season has been blown to shreds as they ponder an escape route from the bottom three. Domestically Atletico have won only one in seven although they did eke out a decent goalless draw in Simeone’s first game away at Malaga. The very slight silver lining around Villarreal’s ‘one win in twelve’ cloud was the 2-2 draw against Valencia last week. Form, consistency and confidence are three of the many facets devoid from these two sides so best of luck predicting a result. For what it’s worth I’m backing Simeone to start at home with a narrow win and an Atletico victory with under 3.5 goals is 7/5.
Osasuna v Santander
Home win: 3/4 Draw: 23/10 Away win: 3/1
Betting Tip: Osasuna remain one of the most obdurate sides in the league having lost just three times all season – with two of them being at the Camp Nou and the Bernabeu. Along with the champions, they are the only team unbeaten at home and Los Rojillos have won four of their last five on their own patch. Santander are another of that gang congregated around the bottom but they have moved out of the relegation zone in recent weeks thanks to picking up eight points from their last twelve. However, not many teams get much in Pamplona these days and Santander won’t be one of them. A multiple 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0 scoreline in favour of Osasuna is 7/4.
Athletic Bilbao v Levante
Home win: 3/5 Draw: 14/5 Away win: 9/2
Betting Tip: Levante are still clinging on to fourth spot but they have yet to regain their autumn form of seven consecutive league wins. They’ve picked up seven points from fifteen and re-started following the winter break with a timid 0-0 draw at home to Mallorca last weekend. Bilbao don’t lose too many but plenty of draws has seen them slip off the Europa League places and into ninth. Bilbao are strong at San Mames but they don’t score many. They should have enough to beat Levante eventually and the half-time draw with Bilbao to nick it is a lengthy 17/5.
Sporting Gijon v Malaga
Home win: 21/10 Draw: 23/10 Away win: 5/4
Betting Tip: Big-spending Malaga will be looking to improve on sixth spot and if they are they’ll need to get things together away from home. Los Boquerones have lost five on the road and won only twice but relegation-threatened Gijon offer a decent chance to kick-start their away revival. Gijon have won one of their last five in the league and just two of their last nine home games so get on the Malaga win at 5/4.
Barcelona v Betis
Home win: 1/20 Draw:21/2 Away win: 33/1
Betting Tip: Barcelona can’t afford to lose any more ground on Real Madrid but the five point deficit is largely down to their away travails. The champions drew again last weekend meaning they’ve won only two of eight league games away from the Camp Nou this season. However, things at home have been a different story and Barca have nailed all and sundry on their own patch and haven’t even conceded there in La Liga. Betis have got it together after an alarming mid-season dip and have won four of their last five but trips to Barcelona are a different ball game. Lionel Messi to score two or more goals is 13/10
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