Real Madrid’s trip to Valladolid on Saturday evening is one in which they can’t afford any more slip-ups as the 11-point gap to La Liga leaders Barcelona looks increasingly like an unbridgeable chasm.
There is no doubting, of course, that Madrid possess the better side than newly-promoted Valladolid.
But considering the respective form of the two sides, a price of 31/4 against a home win and 17/4 for a draw both look surprisingly long.
Valladolid have lost just once at home since their return to the top flight, after all, while Real Madrid already have three away defeats to their name.
Arguably, Valladolid also have more momentum as they battle to convert their post-promotion honeymoon – surely no-one at the club would have expected them to be sat seventh in the table after 14 games – into safety.
For Real Madrid, the Champions League and the endless debate about boss Jose Mourinho’s possible departure next summer are seemingly the priorities after a disastrous start to their La Liga campaign.
Madrid are 3/10 favourites for Saturday’s tie but the sad truth is that only one of their three away league wins this season has come with any sort of ease (a 5-0 breeze in Mallorca).
Odds of 9/10 on Valladolid to win with a fictional 2-0 handicap appeal on the basis of Real’s struggle to impose themselves on their opponents while on their travels this season.
Punters registering with bwin today can claim a free £20 bet and placing it on Valladolid to win, draw or lose by no more than one goal would return £38 if successful.
Valladolid boast one of the strongest defences in the division, conceding just 15 goals so far, and while it would take a brave man to put more than a couple of quid on Real failing to score, odds of 8/1 on such an outcome look tempting enough.
After all, Mourinho’s men have already fired blanks on the road twice this season – against both Sevilla and, last weekend, Real Betis – so they are by no means guaranteed to swat Valladolid aside.
But rather than the longer-priced punt, I’ll be having a go on that 9/10 that the hosts can emerge victorious with a two-goal headstart on Los Blancos.