JC’s Top bets in Round 36 La Liga

2 May


Rayo Vallecano v Athletic Bilbao

Paco Jemez’ red-hot Rayo were probably safe from the drop before last weekend’s trip to Granada, but they still won 3-0, against a team who badly needed the points. Therefore, it seems unlikely that the Madrid based side will go into holiday mode in front of their own fans against Athletic this weekend.

Athletic defeated Sevilla 3-1 at the new San Mames last Sunday – a result that leaves the fourth placed Basques six points clear of the fifth placed Andalucians with three games to play. As such, I expect they’ll be very happy with a draw at Vallecas this weekend.

All in all, over 2.5 goals and BTTS seem likely, but with five out of the last seven Athletic road games containing less than three goals and the Basque side having won only two of those games, it seems smartest to side with a Rayo team that has won seven of its last ten games (their only defeat was away to Real Madrid in that stretch) and is playing swashbuckling football.

Recommendation: Rayo + 0.5 Asian handicap (1.93)


Osasuna v Celta Vigo

After beating Valladolid 4-1 in Vigo last Monday, Enrique’s Celta are safe from the drop. Osasuna, however, aren’t so it seems natural to favour a home win. A lot of recent Cetla away games have contained three goals or more, but if they’re on holiday mode this weekend, their slow possession game mixed with Osasuna’s inability to consistently score goals should result in under 2.5 goals being a winning bet.

Indeed, since Celta regained promotion a couple of years ago, all of their meetings have contained less than three goals. All in all, with four of the last five Osasuna home games also yielding profit on the same pick, I’ll take the bet at 1.93.

Recommendation: Under 2.5 goals (1.93)


Levante v Atletico Madrid

Levante had nothing to play for weeks ago and, generally, this has shown in recent games. Champions League finalists Atletico, however, will wrap up the league title with a game to spare if they win their next two games.

Just once, but we must consider that Atletico were put to the sword and 3-0 down to away Osasuna by half time after a Champions League game a few months ago, while we must also be aware that this is a situation in which the Levante players could have been offered a few hundred thousand euro’s per head by rivals of Los Colchoneros if they avoid defeat.

All in all, though, this game seems like a foregone conclusion. Now, Atleti are too short to back at 1.25, but under 2.5 goals – a winner in seven out of the last nine Levante home games, four out of the last five Atleti away (league only) and last five head-to-head meetings in Valencia – is always worth a punt in Atletico away games.

So, I’m puzzled to see 1.93 on offer for under 2.5 goals and feel like I’ve got to bet on it at the price.

Recommendation: Under 2.5 goals (1.93)


Real Madrid v Valencia

Congratulations to Los Blancos for walking through Bayern Munich like a knife through butter midweek! The Germans were poor, but that some display of counter-attacking from Real Madrid.

Anyway, Valencia suffered heartbreak after taking a 3-0 lead only to see Sevilla score in injury time to progress to the Europa League final on away goals, and I’d expect a tired Los Che to simply try to stifle Ancelotti’s boys this weekend.

In conclusion, this is usually a low scoring fixture and one that Real Madrid haven’t won by more than two goals in for more than six years, so with tired legs on show, the possibility of Ronaldo or Bale rested, the visitors likely to take a defensive approach and three points all that matter to the hosts, either Valencia + 2.5 or under 3.5 goals look like the best selections to consider.

Now, Valencia have failed to score in four of their last three league home games and Real Madrid have won to nil in five of their last six La Liga contests at the Bernabeu so, if we theorise that Los Che are unlikely to score, under 3.5 goals is the bet to chance, I hope.

Recommendation: Under 3.5 goals (2.5)


Real Sociedad v Granada

With the seventh placed team to be awarded a Europa League place in 2014/15 because Real and Barca contested the Copa del Rey final, sixth placed Real Sociedad are now guaranteed a place in UEFA’s second tier tourney. Therefore, they have nothing to play for against Granada this weekend.

Granada, however, have everything to play for as they’re only four points above the 18th placed team, Almeria, and five above a Valladolid side that has a further four games to play.

In conclusion, with five out of the last six head-to-head meetings between these two containing three goals or more, along with four out of the last six La Real home games and five of the last six Granada away, over 2.5 goals looks like a good bet on paper.

However, that bet is only priced at 1.67 and, as Real Sociedad have not impressed in recent games, I’m going to take a handicap stance on the side that needs the points instead. After all, the Basques last three wins have all been by a single goal and, in most cases, fortunate.

It’s not been a strong constant in recent La Real home games and Granada away fixtures but, if you prefer, both teams to score has won in five of the aforementioned last six head-to-head meetings and fits this weekend’s match dynamic.

Recommendation: Granada + 1 Asian handicap (2.26)


Barcelona v Getafe

The Catalans completed a great comeback to beat Villarreal last weekend and, despite Getafe badly needing the points given that they’re just two points above the drop zone, Barcelona will surely win this weekend. But by how much? Well, it could be 2-0 or 6-1 and its pure guesswork as to which, so I’m out.


Malaga v Elche

As expected, considering themselves to already be safe of relegation worries, Schuster’s ‘Anchovies’ lost away to Getafe in round 35. Elche, on the other hand, were in need of a home win to edge further away from the bottom three, but could only draw 1-1 at home to a Levante side that had nothing to play for.

All in all, a point makes Malaga 100% safe and, with Elche more in need of the points since they are only three above the 18th placed team, Almeria, who host already relegated Betis this weekend, the away side + 0.5 looks like the play to make in this game.

However, I expected around 1.91 for this bet, but 1.67 is the best on offer. I’ll pass.


Valladolid v Espanyol

Worryingly, I don’t trust Valladolid to beat Espanyol, but if you’re going to bet on this game it’s the logical play to make. Why? Well, Espanyol, safe from relegation weeks ago, have been in traditional end of season form – drawing one and losing four of their last five games – while Valladolid are second bottom and need to win.

Why don’t I trust Valladolid to beat Espanyol? Head-to-head, they’ve failed to beat the Catalan’s in the last six meetings, plus Espanyol have this habit of losing a few games in a row once safe, before winning one they have no reason to away.

Of course, when looking at head-to-head records we have to account for player and managerial changes, and determine how different each side is now. I think, with these two, not much different is the answer.


Almeria v Betis

Well, Almeria are third bottom and need to win, while already relegated Betis have no need to win bar pride. Almeria will probably beat Betis, but I’m not interested in betting against my beloved Betis at 1.62, particularly as I’ve seen plenty of teams win the week after they’ve been relegated in the past.


Sevilla v Villarreal

Well, the pressure got to ‘The Yellow Submarines’ against Barcelona last weekend and was it annoying. Of course, I say this because it was the only game I got wrong last Sunday, but two own goals is frustrating way to throw away a 2-0 lead.

Sevilla lost 3-1 away to Athletic last weekend, which pretty much ends their hopes of fourth place. Still, by not starting Rakitic at San Mames, Sevilla coach Emery indicated that his priorities lie in winning the Europa League, which they’ve just qualified for the final of.

All in all, they raised their game against Barca and its possible that we will see some continuity in Seville, but Villarreal have been very poor in recent away games and are therefore hard to trust. The fact that Sevilla played midweek helps, but I’m just not sure I can trust Villarreal + 0.5.

Head-to-head, the last six games between Sevilla and Villarreal have each seen three goals or more, with both scoring in five. Sadly, both teams to score and over 2.5 goals are only best priced at 1.67 and 1.73 respectively.

Maybe 1.73 is doable, but recent Villarreal away games have been low scoring and I’m not quite confident enough. Instead, I’m going to wait for a bigger price and assess things in-play.


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