Spanish football’s elite top flight, La Liga, is undoubtedly the dominant force in European football in recent times, providing five of the last six finalists in the Champions League, as well as five of the last eight winners.
It doesn’t stop there either, with teams from Spain also ruling the roost in Europe’s second tier tournament, the Europa League, taking four of the last five editions, highlighted by triumphs for goal happy Sevilla in 2014, ’15 and ’16.
Enthused by a domestic league bursting with quality and rivalry, the Sportsman’s Tom Lee, a regular visitor to Spain and its football grounds, takes a weekly look at the best bets on the fixture list…
We resume, not before time it has to be said, with a much anticipated 29th week of the season, one which comes after the widely unpopular international break, a seemingly unnecessary pause in the action which frustrates fans and disrupts momentum.
No-one that I know cares about Honduras playing Finland in some meaningless kickabout, whereas just about anyone who enjoys sport can surely appreciate the pressure and intensity of the business end of the Spanish season, one which sees both Real Madrid and Barcelona facing nine games apiece in the month of April!
Back to them later though, as in the hunt for some attractive prices and a winnner to two, it’s to the far north and Osasuna we’ll head, with bottom the team welcoming Bilbao giants, Athletic Club, to El Sadar (Sat, 3.15pm).
Based in Pamplona, the home team are running rapidly backs towards the Segunda, having amassed just 11 points so far, with a goal difference of minus 39.
To be fair to them, they have been having a right go in recent weeks, trying to mask their chronic lack of quality with a string of spirited displays, and in doing so finding the net in four of their last seven – including against the league leaders, Real!
Yet another defeat looks likely, but they might well score during the 90 minutes, so rather than take the miserly 4/7 about the away side, why not have a bash at Bilbao to win and both teams to score?
It’s a far more appetising 12/5 with either Hills or bet365, and could very well come to fruition.
Next up, the game that follows on Saturday afternoon sees Real Sociedad play improving Leganes in San Sebastián (5.30pm).
The survival instinct has well and truly kicked in for the side who are used to being overshadowed by their near neighbours Real and Atleti – Leganes come from a Madrid satellite town situated just 11km from the city centre of the capital – with a win against Granada topped up by battling draws against Sevilla and Malaga in recent weeks.
Those confidence restoring points have come at a valuable time, earning them a five point cushion above 18th placed Sporting Gijon.
Furthermore, they may well be meeting Sociedad at a good time; the hosts have lost their last two and were also held 2-2 at home by Eibar at the end of February.
I fancy Leganes to scrap their way to another point here, with the stalemate available at 5/2 with any of Betfred, BetVictor, Coral, Hills or Paddy.
Finally, back to (near) the top of the table on Sunday night, where Barcelona could very well be chasing a five point gap as they travel to strugglers Granada (7.45pm), with Madrid at home to Alaves earlier in the day.
Defeat is out of the question against the seemingly doomed southerners, and Barca to win to nil at 7/5 with Paddy Power looks the way to go.
This weekend’s best bets in La Liga:
7.45 Sun – Granada v BARCELONA – Barca to win to nil @ 7/5 (Paddy Power)Posted 7 months, 3 weeks ago