13 Jan

In A Liga Of Its Own (14th and 15th January)

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…

A glut of attractive fixtures are the hallmark of week 18, notably the visit of record-breakers Real Madrid to Sevilla’s Sanchez Pizjuan, less than 72 hours after the teams met in thrilling Cup action on Thursday night at the same venue, in a match that pits first against second on Sunday evening, while at the opposite end of the pile there’s a degree of gory fascination at play, as 19th placed Granada welcome bottom team Osasuna to Los Carmenes earlier on the same day, with both basement sides yet to reach double figures in terms of league points gained.

Both will be an excellent watch, but neither fixture makes it into this week’s betting recommendations, which kick-off with the ‘Draw and both teams to score’ option in Saturday night’s Deportivo La Coruna versus Villarreal clash.

This represents 15th against 5th at the Riazor, an intimidating stadium right on the beach in La Coruna, one which evokes Pittodrie-esque images in mid-winter, with the wind howling in off the Atlantic.

Both sides are superb at finding the net, but Depor have drawn their last three in all competitions, while this excellent Villarreal outfit have drawn three of their last four, including conceding a last gasp equaliser last weekend against Barca, a stroke of blush-sparing genius from the boot of Lionel Messi.

Villarreal have the edge on quality, but this is a tough trip from east to west against an improving opponent, and my suspicion is they’ll be happy to return home with a point.

Depor to draw with Villarreal in a game where both teams find the net is available at nearly 4/1, 18/5 to be precise, with either Betfred or BetVictor.

Moving on, Sunday’s five fixtures look absolutely tremendous, not least the early kick-off (11.00am) in which Espanyol can heap more misery on Valencia by winning away at the towering, but currently vulnerable, Mestalla.

In recent times this resilient Espanyol side have been good enough to win on their travels against Alaves, as well as grind out a point in the Vicente Calderon against Atletico.

Valencia sit in a precarious 17th, and this could be a miserable first league game in charge for new boss Voro Gonzalez.

Espanyol looks generously priced at 3’s with any of bet365, Betfred, BetVictor, Ladbrokes or Hills.

Next up it’s Celta Vigo against Alaves, 9th against 12th at the Balaidos, where Celta put the aforementioned Valencia to the sword in the Copa Del Rey on Thursday night, completing a 6-2 aggregate victory!

This opposition will be far tougher though; draw specialists Alaves will undoubtedly once again to be hard to break down.

With that in mind, the draw looks a cracking wager at 14/5 with either Betfred or BetVictor.

Lastly, it might be getting greedy by going for a fourth selection, but then it’s hard to overlook an Eibar side who simply love to punch above their weight.

They travel to struggling Sporting Gijon in the 5.30pm kick-off, and might well be able to do enough to depart El Molinon with all three points.

Eight places above their hosts in the league, don’t forget Eibar have very recently beaten Sporting home and away in the Copa Del Rey, and meet a team on a run of four straight defeats!

Eibar are 7/4 with Hills to make that five.

Good luck!

This weekend’s best bets in La Liga:

7.45pm Sat – Deportivo v Villarreal – Draw & Both Teams To Score @ 18/5 (Betfred or BetVictor)

11.00am Sun – Valencia v Espanyol – Away Win @ 3/1 (bet365, BetVictor or Ladbrokes)

3.15pm Sun – Celta Vigo v Alaves – Draw @ 14/5 (Betfred or BetVictor)

5.30pm Sun – Sporting Gijon v Eibar – Away Win @ 7/4 (Hills)

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