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…
It’s back to the grind of league football for Spanish football’s aristocrats this weekend, following a midweek calendar in which holders Real Madrid produced a stunning Champions League display in Munich, brittle Barcelona once again went to pieces when getting walloped by Juve, and Atletico did what Atletico do, namely squeeze the life out of a game and win 1-0, taming the Foxes of Leicester.
In fact, if you translate that idea to Atleti’s league campaign, one which was a bit of a mess pre-Christmas, you’d find that they’d won without conceding in 13 of their 31 games to date, which in turn provides a solid plan of attack for Saturday’s game against rock bottom Osasuna (5.30pm).
Osasuna have shown signs of a belated fight by winning their last two, but it’s too little too late, and a trip to the Vicente Calderon to face a now in-form Atleti isn’t what they’d have wanted, far from it.
Unfortunately for Diego Simeone and his team, games are running out as they try and make ground on Barca in second, but this is a banker three points, one which can be achieved with a clean sheet at the other end.
As the first leg of a multiple, Atleti to win to nil gets the vote at 4/6 with either BetVictor or Betway.
Moving on to Sunday, the astonishing success story which is Eibar’s campaign gets its latest airing, this time with an away trip to Seville to play Real Betis (5.30pm).
That Eibar are even in La Liga is miraculous, but for them to be flying high in seventh, largely owing to a squad fuelled by low wages and loan signings, is incredible.
Momentum and confidence, something largely absent for a Betis side who’ve lost their last three, are strange creatures though, and could yet propel Eibar to Europa League football in 2017/18.
Quite what they’d do when they got there is anyone’s guess, but for now they can dream, and they’ll continue to do so if they can snatch another three points down south.
Don’t forget, they’ve won their last three on the spin, scoring eight in the process, and look generously priced at 7/4 to continue that sequence.
Finally, just when you thought every conceivable headline had been written this week, up pops Tony Adams of all people to take over as interim manager at soon to be relegated Granada.
The ex-Arsenal and England skipper had already been working in a an advisory role at the club, but now takes the reins with a side who are good to watch, but lack quality.
Sunday’s opponents, Celta Vigo, are likely to make changes with little to play for in the league, and less than 72 hours recovery time since Thursday evening’s Europa League win against Gent.
Adams, who was unveiled to the press wearing an offcut from a discount carpet warehouse closing down sale, might very well get something from this, and the way to go looks to the stalemate, with the draw available at a tempting 5/2 with any of Fred, Skybet or Victor.
This weekend’s best bets in La Liga:
5.30 Sat – ATLETICO MADRID v Osasuna – Atletico to win to nil @ 4/6 (BetVictor or Betway)
5.30 Sun – Real Betis v EIBAR – Away win @ 7/4 (bet365 or Betfred)
7.45 Sun – Granada v Celta Vigo – DRAW @ 5/2 (Betfred, BetVictor or Skybet)