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 a short turnaround time for midweek ‘jornada’ 30, with some teams returning from lengthy away days having had just 72 hours (or less if you’re Las Palmas) to recover after their weekend exploits.
Chief among my interest is a trio of teams battling either the direct threat of relegation, or the possibility of being sucked into the dogfight if things don’t pick up rapidly, the latter remark applying to Malaga, who could well be sweating if things don’t go their way in Gijon, where they make the extremely long journey (off the back of a sapping home defeat against Atletico) to face Sporting at El Molinon (Wed 7.30pm).
A win and two draws from their last three have been way more like it from Sporting, who are now well and truly in the drive position as they try and redeem themselves from what had looked a bleak position.
They’re still adrift in 18th, but something positive from this is vital against a Malaga team who look shot to bits, losing five of their last six and drawing the other 0-0, while scoring just two in the process.
By contrast, win this and they Gijon can haul themselves up to within two points of the visitors, an eventuality which looks overpriced at 9/5 with any of bet365, Betfred or BetVictor.
Those wanting to play it safe may prefer the 19/20 ‘draw no bet’ available with Coral.
Elsewhere, there’s no doubt one team who are heading straight through the trapdoor are Osasuna, who remain rock bottom and are unlikely to see that position improving after their journey to face Copa Del Rey finalists, Alaves (Wed 7.30pm).
Alaves have won two and drawn one of their last three at the Mendizorrotza, a trend which should be boosted with minimum fuss.
Alaves like ideal fodder to boost multiple bets at the 9/20 available with BetVictor.
Sticking with the relegation theme, one team who would be sweating if Sporting can deliver against Malaga are Leganes, who sit in 17th after doing this column a favour by drawing away to Real Sociedad on Saturday.
Things are about to get even tougher for them here, with the visit of league leaders and local rivals, Real Madrid, to the Municipal de Butarque (Wed 8.30pm).
It’s hard to believe Real will show any leniency to their neighbours as they close in on the title, but what is clearly noticeable is the league leader’s open style of play – conceding in seven of their last eight games in all competitions.
For that reason, back Madrid to win and both teams to score, a 2/1 chance with any of Betway, Boylesports, Coral or Hills.
Lastly, spare a thought for Canary Islanders Las Palmas, who haven’t exactly been well looked after by the fixture list.
Monday night saw them schlep all the way to the far north west for a 3-1 hiding at the hands of Celta Vigo, and just under 72 hours later they’ll be racking up the frequent flyer points once again, heading to the Basque Country to lock horns with Eibar.
The home team will have had more than 53 hours extra recovery time after their 3-2 win away to Villarreal in the early kick-off on Saturday, and can make that advantage count at the tiny Ipurua Municipal.
Eibar are 17/20 with any of bet365, Betfred or Hills.
Week 30’s best bets in La Liga:
Wed 7.30pm – SPORTING v Malaga – Home Win @ 9/5 (bet365)
Wed 7.30pm – ALAVES v Osasuna – Home Win @ 9/20 (BetVictor)
Wed 8.30pm – Leganes – REAL MADRID – Away Win & Both Teams To Score @ 2/1 (Hills)
Thur 6.30pm – EIBAR v Las Palmas – Home Win @ 17/20 (bet365)