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…
Saturday’s early kick-off in week 16 of the campaign has the potential to be quite a tense affair at El Molinon, as home side Sporting Gijon try to sign off before the winter break with some urgently needed points.
Flying high in fourth, visitors Villarreal find themselves in nosebleed territory, still buzzing from Monday’s 3-0 walloping of a strangely out of sorts Atletico Madrid.
So 18th v 4th, but Sporting have been showing enough in not only drawing 1-1 at home to Sevilla, but also going down by the odd goal in games against heavyweights like Real Madrid, to suggest there’s a real fighting spirit running through their ranks.
They usually score, and Villarreal look a bit too short away from home, so take the draw at 12/5.
Another game with a similar complexion is 19th placed Granada at home to the side lying in fifth, Real Sociedad, perhaps the surprise package of the season so far…
It’s been much more like it from Granada in recent weeks, seeing off Sevilla and then bagging a point against Malaga in the Andalusian derby.
Sociedad meanwhile, discounting an off day when they were dismantled in the Riazor by Deportivo, have just got better and better, putting the wind up Barcelona as well as beating Atletico and Valencia convincingly.
They should have too much for Granada, and can return to the north with all three points – Real Sociedad are 21/20 with BetVictor or Hills.
Lastly, rather than trying to predict what might or might not happen in the local derby between Barca and Espanyol, jump aboard the Deportivo La Coruna express as they take on bottom team, Osasuna, at the Riazor on Sunday evening.
A harsh and unforgiving place to try and play when the wind whistles in off the Atlantic in winter, the Riazor isn’t the kind of spot embattled Osasuna will be relishing going, especially against a Depor team who are fantastic at scoring goals.
Sadly for them, they’re woeful at defending, having scored 15 in their last seven in the league, but conceded 17!
Happily for them, they’re up against a team who just don’t look to have enough to cut it at this level, and a home win beckons.
This weekend’s best bets in La Liga:
12pm Saturday – Sporting Gijon v Villarreal – Draw @ 12/5 (BetVictor)
5.30 Saturday – Granada v Real Sociedad – Away Win @ 21/20 (BetVictor or William Hill)
5.30 Sunday – Deportivo La Coruna v Osasuna – Home Win @ 4/7 (bet365, Betfred or Coral)