Spanish football’s elite top flight, La Liga, is undoubtedly the dominant force in European football in recent times, providing six of the last eight finalists in the Champions League, as well as six of the last nine 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 six 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…
With one exception, matchday 20 looks like a very hard to call round of fixtures.
The odd one out?
Saturday evening’s clash at the Estadio Gran Canaria (7.45pm) between bottom side Las Palmas and third placed Valencia of course.
In truth, Valencia aren’t playing very well and had a hard game with a full strength side against Alavés in midweek in the Copa Del Rey, but they are getting the job done having won four straight now – something that can’t be said for sorry looking Las Palmas, who come here in bits after a 6-0 mauling at Girona last Saturday.
Granted, the one game Valencia were held in recently was their 1-1 Copa Del Rey Round of 16 first leg draw away to Las Palmas, but that was their first game after Christmas and they’ve found their stride now, plus and on that occasion knew they had a second leg to finish the job – a game they ended up winning 4-0 incidentally.
The 17/20 available with BetVictor about an away win looks more than reasonable, with clear motivation for the visiting side to get the job done and in doing so try and retake second place from Atlético Madrid.
Elsewhere, one clash where goals seem highly likely is the third of four games on Sunday afternoon (5.30pm), in which Real Sociedad entertain Celta Vigo at the Anoeta in San Sebastián.
A game that represents 15th against 11th, but perhaps more interestingly; outside the top three these two are the joint highest scorers (alongside Betis) in La Liga, both having found the net 33 times in 19 matches – a more than reasonable yield of 1.74 per match.
The hosts have notched five in their last two home games – two of which were their early salvo against Barcelona, whereas Celta have found the net in all 10 of their away league games this campaign, including of course when winning at Levante last Sunday.
With that in mind, both teams to score looks a decent play – Ladbrokes go 8/15.
Lastly, if that’s a bit skinny and you want something odds against then be patient and wait for embattled Malaga to try and apply the jump leads to their relegation dogfight on Monday night, travelling to face a buoyant Eibar in the Ipurua Municipal (8.00pm).
A pathetic 11 points up ’til now tells you plenty about Malaga’s nightmare season, although maybe not the entire story.
They keep losing, but only by narrow margins, rarely getting hammered, suggesting that if they can rediscover their scoring touch then they might still have time to make up ground on both Deportivo, Alavés and Levante above them.
For their part, Eibar are extremely hard to play against and sit in a cosy eighth position after some outstanding results.
They beat Malaga 0-1 at the Rosaleda back in August, and this one looks set to be tight as well.
If Malaga are to perform an escape act they need something from this – I’ve seen enough from them in a trio of 1-0 defeats recently to risk them in the ‘double chance’ market – in which either a Malaga win or a draw means we collect.
The best price in the village is 11/10 with Paddy Power.
This weekend’s best bets in La Liga:
7.45pm Sat – Las Palmas v Valencia – Away win @ 17/20 (BetVictor)
5.30pm Sun – Real Sociedad v Celta Vigo – Both Teams To Score @ 8/15 (Ladbrokes)
8.00pm Mon – Eibar v Malaga – Malaga/Draw Double Chance @ 11/10 (Paddy Power)