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, Betting Directory’s Tom Lee, a regular visitor to Spain and its football grounds, takes a weekly look at the best bets on the fixture list…
If Friday night’s seesaw seven goal thriller between Espanyol and Las Palmas is anything to go by, week 27 on the Spanish top flight calendar could be a highly enjoyable one.
Sandwiched inbetween Champions League and Europa League commitments for the select few, there’s also the small matter of Sunday morning’s Basque derby at the Anoeta, as Real Sociedad welcome Athletic Bilbao, both of whom will be disappointed if they’re not playing European football of some kind in 2017/18.
It’s there where we’ll kick-off, with fifth against seventh as well as local bragging rights at stake, as the local Basque provinces of Gipuzkoa and Bizkaia go head-to-head.
Athletic overcame their great rivals 3-2 at San Mames back in October, and it’s highly likely there’ll be goals again.
The hosts have taken seven points from the last nine available, while the visitors have netted six in the same period.
In a match of the magnitude, with local pride at stake, it’s often seen as more important not to lose than to gain all three points, which suggests the ‘Draw and both teams to score’ option sounds tempting, especially at the 15/4 available with BetVictor.
Later on, Sunday evening’s game sees Real Madrid entertain Seville side Real Betis in a must win encounter at the Bernabeu.
Although they’ve got a game in hand Real could be four points adrift of Barca if Luis Enrique’s team win earlier on that afternoon away to Deportivo La Coruna, meaning there’s no room for slip ups from Zinedine Zidan’s men.
It’s unlikely there’ll be any to be fair, with Madrid on a high after their Champions League victory in Naples in midweek.
Betis had a tough game in getting a point in La Coruna 24 hours later, and could very well struggle here.
They’re a hard team too call, Betis, taking a point off Barcelona in January and battling ferociously two weeks ago in the Derbi Sevillano, but it’s unlikely they’ve got the quality to keep Madrid at bay.
I was present for the corresponding fixture in Madrid in late summer 2015, when Madrid ran amok in a 5-0 canter, and it may be another stroll for the home side.
Madrid to win to nil at 10/11 with Paddy Power gets my vote.
Lastly, soon to be relegated Osasuna have conceded 21 goals in their last six games, losing all of them in the process.
That sequence is unlikely to end happily when they entertain the miracle team of La Liga, Eibar, on Monday night.
Eibar, the shoestring minnows, are now so used to punching above their weight, they’re beginning to look like they fit in here in the top flight, and a trip to El Sadar holds absolutely no fears for them.
Expect them to hammer another nail into Osasuna’s coffin with a win on the road – 11/10 are the odds of reward with any of bet365, Fred, Hills or Stan James.
This weekend’s best bets:
11.00am Sunday – Real Sociedad v Athletic Bilbao – DRAW & BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE @ 15/4 (BetVictor)
7.45pm Sunday – Real Madrid v Real Betis – MADRID TO WIN TO NIL @ 10/11 (Paddy Power)
7.45pm Monday – Osasuna v Eibar – AWAY WIN @ 11/10 (bet365, Betfred, Hills or Stan James)