Saturday’s La Liga betting previews – 11/01/14

11 Jan

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Athletic Bilbao v Almeria

Well, they looked toothless in their 2-0 Basque derby defeat away to Real Sociedad, but Athletic Bilbao rattled the woodwork and missed a plethora of chances in Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat Copa del Rey defeat to Real Betis in Seville.
Of course, at their new San Mames ground, Athletic have a 100% record, which includes a 1-0 defeat of Barcelona.

Almeria, on the other hand, took a long time to win a league game – even more so at home – but, their credit, they’ve actually won their last two La Liga fixtures and should have top scorer Rodri available for selection in Bilbao.

Although it must be taken into account that Valencia were in very bad form at the time, Almeria won their first game of the season 2-1 at the Mestalla, defeating Betis in similar circumstances.

In conclusion, I expect some kind of goal-frenzied reaction from what must be a frustrated Athletic Bilbao team, but feel I must give a little respect to the fact that Almeria have won three away La Liga games in a row and opt to back over 2.5 goals as my recommendation.

If you prefer an Asian handicap bet, Athletic – 1.25 (1.95) looks like the most sensible punt.

Recommendation: Over 2.5 goals (1.75)

Celta Vigo v Valencia

Although they pass the ball around nicely under the instruction of coach Luis Enrique, Celta’s downfall is that they struggle to score goal(s). The most recent example of this was their midweek game again Real Madrid – which they eventually lost 3-0.

Charles, a Brazilian forward who was the Segunda division’s top scorer in 2012/13 for Almeria, was the biggest culprit, failing to convert two one on one chances, particularly the second one. Indeed, it was one of the games in which you couldn’t believe a team hadn’t scored.

Coincidentally, Valencia – seemingly re-invigorated under new coach Pizzi –also struggle to score goals, suggesting that under 2.5 goals (1.96) is a good bet to take.

However, along with an undefeated start and the short to mid- term momentum continuity that a team often gets when a new manager takes over, Valencia have their top scorer, Jonas, available to play and he could well make the difference in a fixture that Valencia have won six times in a row.

Worth a punt: Valencia: draw no bet (1.73)

Atletico Madrid v Barcelona

While I can’t wait to watch this game, it hasn’t been easy selecting a bet. Indeed, I could make an argument for any outcome.

Firstly, we know the following about Atletico Madrid: Los Colchoneros are great defensively, have a player in Diego Costa who had until recently outscored Ronaldo in 2013/14 La Liga competition, their players fully believes in their manager and his methods, that 2013/14 represents the best chance they’ve have had of winning the title since 1996, that they’ve now twice defeated Real Madrid after more in which they couldn’t.

Then there’s Barcelona – the reigning champions who, whist not overly impressive by their usual high scoring, eye-catching standards this season, now have a forward line that is firing on all cylinders, with Pedro and Sanchez in red-hot form.

Oh, and Messi – who scored two injury time goals upon his (substitute) return against Getafe – is back. Now, if there’s any player that can win a hard game for Barca it’s him.

All in all, we know that Atletico’s intensity can blunt Barca’s pass, pass, pass offence – evidenced by their last two head to head matches being 0-0 and 1-1, and that makes a very good argument for backing a draw or Atletico + 0.5 Asian handicap.

Under 2.5 goals is also an option from past experience, but Barca are banging the goals in and this game offers the league’s best home offence against the best away attack. Finally, besides that fact that the Catalans have a point to prove after the last two head to head matches, and that they know this is their best chance to distance themselves from Atleti in the table and seriously dent their title chances, what will attract value punters into backing Bara is their 2.25 price. I mean, how many times can you back Barca at odd-against?!

In conclusion, I’m not 100% sure which angle to take, and would just be happy to see Atletico avoid defeat for sake of continuing the title race, so I’ve just taken two small punts – and I won’t be distraught if neither win.

Worth a small punt: Barca win and BTTS (3.9) and over 3.5 goals (2.8)

Elche v Sevilla

A short and, I hope, sweet preview for you here. Sevilla, who took the best part of ten months to win an away league game in 2013, have now won three in a row and are firing on all cylinders. Most impressively, Emery’ Rojiblancos defeated Villarreal in their last road game.

Indeed, in all competitions, Sevilla have recorded victory in the five straight away games. Against an Elche side that has lost five out of its last six home and 6/9 home La Liga games in 2013/14, Sevilla at odds-against looks like a very good bet.

Recommendation: Sevilla (2.25)

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