Archive for the ‘ football ’ Category

09 Nov
2018

In A Liga Of Its Own…(10 & 11 Nov)

Matchday 12 is the last one before the latest unwanted international break, and comes at a time when Real Madrid are working hard to establish some post-Lopetegui stability, but face a tricky trip to the north west to play frequent scorers Celta Vigo (eight goals in their last three outings) in Balaídos, in what looks a must watch (Sun, 7.45pm).

Elsewhere on the coupon, we get to find out if the two Barcelona clubs can stay one and two in the table, as Barca entertain Betis (Sun, 3.15pm), on a day where Espanyol travel to third placed Sevilla (5.30pm).

On a similar theme, these are giddy times for Alavés, who sit within four points of the top and look forward to a very attractive home fixture against bottom team Huesca (Sun, 11.00am).

So, where to look for a possible investment?

Let’s start with the easiest first (famous last words), as Alavés get the Sunday service up and running at the Mendizorrotza, looking to return to the form which saw them pounce on three straight wins prior to their Copa del Rey draw at home to Girona, which preceeded a fiery 2-1 defeat away at Eibar last Sunday.

The hosts here are tough, a shade unpredictable, but nonetheless there’s no fluke about their highly impressive tally of 20 points, with uncompromising boss Abelardo getting a great tune and no short measure of fighting spirit from his group of players.

By contrast these are tough times for Huesca, who were agonisingly close to a precious three points last weekend at home to Getafe, only to be pegged back by a 92nd minute Jorge Vidal strike.

It seems a long time since their 2-1 win at Eibar on the opening weekend, and in that context Alavés look solid accumulator material around the 5/6 mark.

The day before, a game which’ll have no shortage of eyeballs trained on it is Sevilla v Espanyol, which not too many people thought would be third against second this deep into the season.

Can Espanyol keep up their great run and remain in nosebleed territory?

A win here would take them level on points with Barca, (they don’t play ’til Sunday) though not top of the table proper due to inferior goal difference, but the suspicion has to be they’ll settle for a point.

The effect new coach Rubi has had on them has been seismic, carrying on the outstanding work he displayed when taking Huesca up in May, but this will be tough as Sevilla are adjusting well to defeat at Barcelona three weeks ago, taking care of Huesca at home as well as hammering in nine goals against weak opponents in a pair of Europa League ties.

That said, they’ve drawn two of their lat three in all competitions, and with the teams just a point apart they could be hard to split here.

A point would be far from the worst outcome for both, and looks very reasonably priced around the 11/4 mark.

Finally, it’s Atlético versus Athletic Club at the Metropolitano on Saturday (5.30pm), with Atlético Madrid entertaining Athletic Bilbao in an inviting looking home game for Diego Simeone’s side.

Atléti are starting to look much more like their old selves, winning their last three home games to nil, and in doing so proving their thumping away defeat to Borussia Dortmund was a rare off day.

Within four points of the summit after a pretty sticky start, they’ve only conceded six in 11 and can only improve.

Speaking of improve, that’s what the visitors urgently need to do, languishing in 17th with just one win in 11 and a goal difference of minus five.

They have drawn recent away games with Barcelona, Eibar and Rayo Vallecano, but despite having 10 shots and 59% possession they couldn’t find a way through against Espanyol on Monday night, and Atléti are a much better side than them.

It’s an old classic, but Atléti to win to nil is the solution I hope, a 20/21 chance with the majority of firms.

Good luck!

This weekend’s best bets in La Liga:

Sat 5.30pm – Atlético Madrid v Athletic Bilbao – Home Win To Nil

Sun 11.00am – Alavés v Huesca – Home Win

Sun 5.30pm – Espanyol v Sevilla – Draw

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Posted 1 week, 4 days ago

02 Nov
2018

In A Liga Of Its Own…(3 & 4 Nov)

Spanish football’s elite top flight, La Liga, is undoubtedly the dominant force in European football in recent times, providing seven of the last 10 finalists in the Champions League, as well as seven of the last 10 winners.

What’s more, Atlético Madrid’s win after extra time in Estonia means nine of the last 10 European Super Cups have gone to a Spanish side, in a period where a stunning 21 of the 30 available European trophies, Champions League, Europa League and Super Cup, have headed in the same direction.

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…

Jornada 11 arrives minus Julen Lopetegui, the ex-Real Madrid boss having bitten the bust after last weekend’s El Clásico hammering.

His former team have an ideal but not cast iron chance to hit the reset button on Saturday afternoon (3.15pm), welcoming promoted Valladolid, who thus far have been a serious surprise package and sit in a high and mighty sixth, meaning Real kick-off against them looking enviously upwards from three positions below!

To put it another way, in May Real were winning the Champions League yet again, while their opponents here were preparing to clamber out of the Segunda with a two-legged play-off victory over Numancia (4-1 on aggregate).

You can imagine the wry smile that might well appear on the ex-national team coach’s face if Madrid do burst back into life less than a week than he walked, indeed it’s borderline inevitable, but not to the degree of being able to recommend a bet.

For that we have to wait a little longer and the 5.30pm Mestalla clash between Valencia and Girona, which is 14th versus 11th.

For such a talented group of players Valencia are massively underperforming, drawing eight in 10 in La Liga up ’til now, finding the net on just seven occasions.

They scraped through against Ebro on Tuesday night in the Copa del Rey, a game that did nothing to quicken the pulse, and now come up against a team who are also seemingly treading water compared to last season’s high octane output.

Girona are solid enough, but not unlike Valencia have drawn four of their last seven in all competitions.

Taking that into account, Valencia look poor value favourites at 1/2, and the draw at 3/1 is a far more appealing wager in a three horse race.

Moving on to Sunday, a game that’s very much of interest is the 5.30pm fixture at El Alcoraz in Aragon, where another of the promoted outfits Huesca will entertain another Madrid side in the shape of Getafe.

Unlike Valladolid it hasn’t been such a smooth transition for Francisco’s Huesca, sitting as they do rock-bottom on five points.

It hasn’t been for want of trying, but it looks like more frustration on the way as they welcome fit and in-form Getafe squad, one which lies eighth having lost only three of their 10 outings so far, in doing so letting in just eight goals.

Getafe came through a tricky looking Copa del Rey assignment in midweek, winning 2-1 away to Segunda side Córdoba, and prior to that they won back-to-back La Liga outings.

They look the value to grab another three points here, with most firms offering prices in the region of 6/5 for the way win.

Good luck!

This weekend’s best bets in La Liga:

Sat 5.30pm – Valencia v Girona – Draw @ 3/1

Sun 5.30pm – Huesca v Getafe – Away Win @ 6/5

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Posted 2 weeks, 5 days ago

26 Oct
2018

In A Liga Of Its Own…(27 & 28 Oct)

Spanish football’s elite top flight, La Liga, is undoubtedly the dominant force in European football in recent times, providing seven of the last 10 finalists in the Champions League, as well as seven of the last 10 winners.

What’s more, Atlético Madrid’s win after extra time in Estonia means nine of the last 10 European Super Cups have gone to a Spanish side, in a period where a stunning 21 of the 30 available European trophies, Champions League, Europa League and Super Cup, have headed in the same direction.

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…

We steam into ‘jornada’ 10 of this most unpredictable of seasons, a weekend in which it’s impossible to evade the looming presence of Sunday’s afternoon’s Nou Camp Clásico (3.15pm), in which a seemingly fit and fully functioning Barcelona ‘welcome’ sworn enemies Real Madrid, with the European Cup winners in seeming disarray under new boss Lopetegui, having lost four of their last six in all competitions, the only win in that period (a scruffy one at that) coming in midweek against Euro also rans, the Czech side Viktoria Plzeň.

What’s wrong with Madrid?

It is just taking time to adjust to the new coach’s system? Is the absence of Ronaldo an incurable samson-esque deficiency? Have key personnel (Marcelo and Benzema) gone off the boil, bloated by success?

Whatever the charge sheet reads, Barcelona sit four points and six places above them, having whacked both Sevilla and Inter in the last seven days, with the big names coming to the party.

Ernesto Valverde’s team will be looking forward to this, and though a Clásico can of course produce the most freakish of freak results, it’s the home team who undoubtedly get the vote around the Even money mark.

Later on Sunday (7.45pm) second-placed Sevilla return to Liga combat after their comedown in Catalonia last Sunday, though their midweek 6-0 Europa League canter against Turks Akhisar will have helped tend to any open wounds.

Boss Pablo Machín saw his side taken apart in a 4-2 defeat by Barca last weekend, but will like the idea of entertaining rock-bottom Huesca and getting among the goals once again.

The promoted side from the north east of Spain have managed just seven in nine (and all of of those early on), and also boast the worst overall goal difference.

Sevilla are prohibitively priced in the 1×2 market, but nonetheless odds against about them winning to nil is a decent proposition – don’t forget Huesca have managed just one goal in their last six outings!

Unlike some, this isn’t a weekend coupon devoid of possible wagers, far from it in fact, with a possible opening on Saturday…

Representing 13th v 12th is Celta Vigo v Eibar in Balaídos (5.30pm), with both sides featuring in a series of tight games of late.

Celta have narrowly lost their last two but featured in score draws in their previous three, while Eibar come here off the back of a 1-1 stalemate against Athletic at Ipurua.

At 100/30 or 7/2 I’m tempted by the ‘Draw, both teams to score’ outcome here, they appear evenly matched and both score regularly enough to suggest this won’t be devoid of goals.

Good luck!

This weekend’s best bets in La Liga:

Sat 5.30pm – Celta Vigo v Eibar – Draw & Both Teams To Score

Sun 3.15pm – Barcelona v Real Madrid – Home Win

Sun 7.45pm – Sevilla v Huesca – Sevilla To Win To Nil

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Posted 3 weeks, 5 days ago

18 Oct
2018

In A Liga Of Its Own…(20 & 21 Oct)

Spanish football’s elite top flight, La Liga, is undoubtedly the dominant force in European football in recent times, providing seven of the last 10 finalists in the Champions League, as well as seven of the last 10 winners.

What’s more, Atlético Madrid’s win after extra time in Estonia means nine of the last 10 European Super Cups have gone to a Spanish side, in a period where a stunning 21 of the 30 available European trophies, Champions League, Europa League and Super Cup, have headed in the same direction.

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…

 

Relieved the latest international interruption is firmly in the rear view mirror we can settle down and enjoy some domestic goodness, with surprise leaders Sevilla away to second placed Barcelona (Sat 7.45pm) the standout fixture on ‘jornada’ or matchday nine.

Hopefully the Andalucians can get something there to prolong the excitement, and if they do it’s also a gilt-edged opportunity for currently third placed Atlético Madrid to seize top spot for the first time this campaign.

Earlier on Saturday (5.30pm) Diego Simeone’s side travel east to Castellón to face an out of sorts Villarreal, at a time when Atléti are finally threatening to engage something like top gear.

After a laboured and unusually quiet start to the campaign they’re getting going now, winning five of their last six in all competitions and starting to look like their real ruthless selves.

Diego Costa is clearly carrying a bit of timber and looks like he needs a month in the gym and to stop eating doughnuts, but the defence is operating in typically parsimonious fashion (only four league goals conceded, the least of any top flight side) and Antoine Griezmann returns full of confidence after scoring twice against Germany, as well as his recent brace against Brugge in the Champions League.

Given that five weeks ago they needed a 95th minute equaliser at home to Eibar to rescue a point it’s a reassuring return to form for the Metropolitano side, one boasting arguably its best ever playing squad.

Win games like this trip to El Madrigal and they are very definitely title contenders, especially in a season where Real Madrid are lacking identity under Lopetegui and Barcelona have openly got at least one eye on the Champions League – thinking long term the 5/1 about Atléti winning La Liga for the first time since 2014 looks value.

For their part, hosts Villarreal have managed a couple of away wins (including a 3-0 triumph in Bilbao) but have generally been rotten, especially at home where they’ve scored once in four attempts to the obvious concern of Head Coach Javier Calleja, firing blanks against Girona, Valencia and Valladolid.

A full speed Atléti will fancy their chances, and look a clear pick at a general 5/4.

Some 24 hours later the 7,600 capacity Estadio El Alcoraz is the venue for bottom side Huesca against high-flying Espanyol (Sun, 5.30pm).

It’s been a bumpy introduction for the promoted side, who with -11 have comfortably the worst goal difference in the section.

In fairness, their early 8-2 defeat in the Nou Camp distorts that, but since then at the other end of the pitch they’ve found the net just once in their last five league games, something that could spell trouble against the surprisingly buoyant visitors.

The Catalans sit fifth going into this round of fixtures, and though they are infrequent winners away from home this looks too good an opportunity to pass up at odds in the region of 11/10.

It might be scruffy but hopefully they’ll have the edge on quality and can get the job done, not forgetting a victory in this most inviting looking of away trips will likely propel them even higher up the table, including above their city rivals were they to fail to win on Saturday night against Sevilla, tempting or what?!

Good luck!

This weekend’s best bets in La Liga:

Sat 5.30pm – Villarreal v Atlético Madrid – Away Win

Sun 5.30pm – Huesca v Espanyol – Away Win 

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Posted 1 month ago

05 Oct
2018

In A Liga Of Its Own…(6 & 7 Oct)

Spanish football’s elite top flight, La Liga, is undoubtedly the dominant force in European football in recent times, providing seven of the last 10 finalists in the Champions League, as well as seven of the last 10 winners.

What’s more, Atlético Madrid’s win after extra time in Estonia means nine of the last 10 European Super Cups have gone to a Spanish side, in a period where a stunning 21 of the 30 available European trophies, Champions League, Europa League and Super Cup, have headed in the same direction.

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…

After a midweek schedule which I think it’s fair to say produced mixed results for Spanish sides in European combat (Tottenham 2-4 Barcelona, CSKA Moscow 1-0 Real Madrid, FC Krasnodar 2-1 Sevilla, Atlético Madrid 3-1 Club Brugge, Real Betis 3-0 Dudelange, Spartak Moscow 3-3 Villarreal, Manchester United 0-0 Valencia) we go back to the Liga coalface for matchday eight.

Will there be weary traveller fatigue or a euro hangover in sight?

Time will tell, but no such problems should affect the first of this week’s suggestions, which is for Getafe and Levante to share the points in the compact Coliseum Alfonso Pérez on the outskirts of Madrid at 3.15pm on Saturday.

A fixture which represents ninth against 16th, the hosts have drawn three of their seven so far, with a goal difference of zero for their troubles having conceded and scored six.

Coached by former striker José Bordalás, they’re not easy to beat – as demonstrated by three draws in their last five outings – but rarely do they have the quality to move through the gears and finish teams off, although to be fair three weeks ago they did despatch Sevilla 0-2 on a long and fruitful journey down south.

As for Levante, they’ve been a bit of everything so far this season, winning 0-3 at Betis, conceding six at home against Sevilla, plus drawing 2-2 at home in a fiery encounter against Valencia.

A point for them would represent a bit of stability to add to last weekend’s breathless win against Alavés, so at anything up to 14/5 the draw it is.

Moving on, there are also some tasty basement battles this weekend, notably Leganes at home to Rayo Vallecano (20th v 18th) on Saturday night, but also temptingly Sunday’s clash between Valladolid and Huesca (10th v 19th) at the steep and daunting Estadio José Zorrilla (Sunday 11.00am).

That the hosts in the latter game sit in a comfortable 10th means the ‘basement’ tag is unfair on them. They’ve fared miles the best of any of the promoted teams and played some really good if occasionally rough stuff.

Seven points from a possible nine with six goals scored in the same period proves they’re really finding their top flight feet again, plus they made Barcelona sweat when they came calling in August, departing with a narrow 0-1 victory.

What’s more, don’t forget this was a Segunda fixture last season, the most recent renewal going the way of Valladolid as they beat Huesca 3-2 at home in February.

Given what’s occurred since then and with recent form in the book, they look very fairly priced at a general 10/11 to keep their solid run of form going.

Good luck!

This weekend’s best bets in La Liga:

3.15pm Sat – Getafe v Levante – Draw

11.00am Sun – Valladolid v Huesca – Home Win

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Posted 1 month, 2 weeks ago

25 Sep
2018

In A Liga Of Its Own…(25 & 27 Sept)

Spanish football’s elite top flight, La Liga, is undoubtedly the dominant force in European football in recent times, providing seven of the last 10 finalists in the Champions League, as well as seven of the last 10 winners.

What’s more, Atlético Madrid’s win after extra time in Estonia means nine of the last 10 European Super Cups have gone to a Spanish side, in a period where a stunning 21 of the 30 available European trophies, Champions League, Europa League and Super Cup, have headed in the same direction.

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…

The game that sticks out on the coupon on this midweek ‘jornada 6’ is Alavés v Getafe (Thur, 7pm), with the Basque side in nosebleed territory as they occupy third position in the early league table.

That lofty perch comes after three wins on the bounce, the latest being a merciless 5-1 pumping away from home for promoted but already struggling Rayo Vallecano.

The Mendizorrotza side have their eye in, no question, and look cracking value at 7/4 at home against a Getafe outfit who’ve been a bit of everything so far this campaign, beating Eibar and Sevilla but also losing twice and drawing 0-0 in a snoozefest against Valladolid, off the back of which they’re 10th.

Surely the Alavés bubble will burst fairly soon, but in the meantime let’s try and strike while the iron’s hot and the goals are flowing, and that hopefully means a fourth Alavés win of the season at an attractive price.

Way before that, Tuesday night has three games to get the midweek juices flowing, the middle one of which is Real Sociedad against wounded Rayo Vallecano.

It’s been a bumpy reintroduction to life in the top flight for the Vallecas (Madrid) side, conceding four at home against Sevilla as well as that drubbing last weekend at the hands of Alavés.

That can’t have been comfortable, and the pain is unlikely to dissipate when they make the long journey north to take on La Real.

Perhaps new boss Asier Garitano needs to take the handbrake off and let his team swarm forward in a more aggressive and attacking style, but there’s no question they’ve got plenty of quality (especially Asier Illarramendi) and they come into this in good spirits after taking all three points away to Huesca on Friday night.

At 8/13 or 4/7 this looks a gilt-edged opportunity to record consecutive victories for the home side.

Good luck!

This week’s best bets in La Liga:

8.00pm Tues – Real Sociedad v Rayo Vallecano – Home Win

7.00pm Thur – Alaves v Getafe – Home Win

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Posted 1 month, 3 weeks ago

23 Sep
2018

In A Liga Of Its Own…(23 Sept)

Spanish football’s elite top flight, La Liga, is undoubtedly the dominant force in European football in recent times, providing seven of the last 10 finalists in the Champions League, as well as seven of the last 10 winners.

What’s more, Atlético Madrid’s win after extra time in Estonia means nine of the last 10 European Super Cups have gone to a Spanish side, in a period where a stunning 21 of the 30 available European trophies, Champions League, Europa League and Super Cup, have headed in the same direction.

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…

Currently in Spain on a sweltering weekend which has already seen Atlético Madrid back up their midweek Champions League with a solid 0-2 win away to Getafe, Celta Vigo and Real Valladolid share six goals at Balaídos, plus Alaves get five away from home against promoted but second bottom Rayo Vallecano, i’m hoping there’s more good entertainment to come today.

Perhaps the most interesting clash of the day is the Valencian derby clash between Villarreal and Valencia (3.15pm), with two distinctly out of sorts sides looking to kick-start their respective campaigns at El Madrigal.

A lopsided 15th versus 18th is about where no-one saw these two being after four matchdays had taken place, but that’s where we find ourselves in a game which could easily end in a share of the spoils.

The Yellow Submarine nicked the corresponding fixture 1-0 back in May, and come into this off the back of a scruffy 1-0 Liga away win at Leganes, plus a 2-2 on Thursday night against Rangers in the Europa League.

That means they’ve got a goal or two in them, whereas the visitors were undone by 10-man Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday, and prior to that had drawn three of their opening four.

It’s relevant though that the other local Valencian derby this month, Levante against Valencia three weeks ago, finished 2-2, and this could be another effective fixture upon which to play the ‘Draw & both teams to score’ card, which comes out at around 7/2 depending on where you shop around.

Both are struggling but capable of finding the net.

Another big talking point over here this week has been the Spanish FA (RFEF) vowing (correctly in my opinion) to block the proposed La Liga game between Girona and Barcelona in Miami in January.

La Liga had tried to introduce the concept to a rightly hostile reaction, trying to smooth the way for future fixtures to be played across the atlantic at the likes of the Hard Rock Stadium.

I for one pray that doesn’t occur, though in the meantime the two sides meet in the Nou Camp on Sunday night (7.45pm), Barca top and playing with freedom and verve, something evident in midweek in the Champions Leagus as they hammered PSV Eindhoven 4-0.

They’ll almost certainly win this one in a canter as well, but don’t forget the conceded two against minnows Huesca recently and don’t mind opening the door occasionally.

For that reason, once again the ‘result & both teams to score’ option becomes a live wire, turning Barca from prohibitive 1/9 shots into a 5/4 option – just hope Girona can hold on to some local pride and pinch a goal as they did in the corresponding 6-1 mauling last winter.

Good luck!

Sunday’s best bets in La Liga:

3.15pm – Villarreal v Valencia – Draw & Both teams to score

7.45pm – Barcelona v Girona – Home win & Both teams to score

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Posted 1 month, 4 weeks ago

14 Sep
2018

In A Liga Of Its Own…(8 Sept, 2018)

Spanish football’s elite top flight, La Liga, is undoubtedly the dominant force in European football in recent times, providing seven of the last 10 finalists in the Champions League, as well as seven of the last 10 winners.

What’s more, Atlético Madrid’s win after extra time in Estonia means nine of the last 10 European Super Cups have gone to a Spanish side, in a period where a stunning 21 of the 30 available European trophies, Champions League, Europa League and Super Cup, have headed in the same direction.

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 probably says much about the first three weeks of the new Spanish top flight campaign that this Saturday’s Valencia v Real Betis clash (5.30pm), widely expected to be two of the great flair teams and free-scoring entertainers in this league, represents 17th against 13th at the Mestalla.

Results have, to put it mildly, been all over the place.

Maybe it’s a hangover from Spain’s limp surrender in the World Cup in Russia, perhaps there’s fatigue or some other associated factor in play, but for whatever reason (unless your name is Barcelona or Real Madrid, both of whom have been gifted relatively straightforward opening games) picking winners has been like a game of pinball.

Back from the hated international break, it’s therefore a relatively low key strategy for matchday four…

Talked of as potential champions for the first time since 2014 after holding on to the likes of Griezmann, Oblak and Godin in the transfer window, pus making some eyecatching additions, Atlético Madrid are regulars in this column, and generally profitably so.

Not two weeks ago though, as they schlepped all the way to Galicia to produce a woeful display in front of a handful of dismayed away fans, losing 2-0 to Celta Vigo and having Montenegrin defender Stefan Savić sent off for good measure.

That they failed to register a single shot on target is an indictment of their limp effort there, and they’ll want to sharpen themselves with a Champions League trip to Monaco to come on Tuesday night.

With that in mind, they’ll be grateful to have been allocated a home game against Eibar at midday UK-time on Saturday, a gilt edged opportunity to blow away the cobwebs and find some form.

I like the idea of them coming out of the traps good and quick against the Basque side, who won last time out but lost their two opening fixtures.

I spy some firms offering Even money about Atleti to be winning at half time, an offer I hope turns out to be too good to miss.

My other fancy also comes on Saturday, this time in the evening kick-off (7.45pm) at San Mamés as Athletic Bilbao entertain Real Madrid.

Both have begun well, Real sitting second only on goal difference behind Barcelona with a perfect three from three and only two conceded, while the hosts are sixth with a win and a draw from only two outings to date, though that really ought to be two from two as they allowed Huesca to snatch a point last time out despite spending a few minutes coasting at 2-0 up.

That aside, this won’t be an easy mission for the Madrileños, who so far have been on easy street with games against Getafe, Girona and Leganes, and what’s more both games between these two ended up in a draw in 2017/18.

Additionally, Real could well have one eye on their forthcoming midweek Champions League tie against Roma, and a draw could well be the outcome here.

Goals are likely, so the ‘Draw & Both Teams To Score’ outcome could be the way to play it – a 4/1 shot with the majority of bookmakers.

Good luck!

This weekend’s best bets in La Liga:

12.00 Sat – Atlético Madrid v Eibar – Atleti to be winning at half time

7.45 Sat – Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid – Draw & Both Teams To Score

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Posted 2 months, 1 week ago

31 Aug
2018

In A Liga Of Its Own…(31 Aug, 1 & 2 Sept)

Spanish football’s elite top flight, La Liga, is undoubtedly the dominant force in European football in recent times, providing seven of the last 10 finalists in the Champions League, as well as seven of the last 10 winners.

What’s more, Atlético Madrid’s win after extra time in Estonia means nine of the last 10 European Super Cups have gone to a Spanish side, in a period where a stunning 21 of the 30 available European trophies, Champions League, Europa League and Super Cup, have headed in the same direction.

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 fair to say for La Liga punters it’s been quite a bumpy, crash landing into the 2018/19 campaign, but everyone has a couple of games under their collective belts and hopefully results will begin to settle down as we roll into Jornada 3 on Friday night.

Real Sociedad would be joint top now with an unblemished six points had they taken their chances on the outskirts of Madrid last Friday night, a game which witnessed their seemingly unassailable 2-0 hold over Leganes evaporate, as the hosts battled back with two late goals from Nabil Al Zhar (the second timed at 88 mins) to grab an unlikely share of the spoils.

Nonetheless, it’s been a buoyant start from La Real, for whom the fixture list has been kind with a Friday night visit to already struggling Eibar (9.00pm).

Eibar have done well in this fixture historically, winning three of the last four home encounters with their Basque rivals, but this time around it’s harder to envisage that form line being upheld with a likely makeshift Eibar midfield of Pape Diop, Gonzalo Escalante, Fabian Orellana and Joan Jordan.

They’ve lost their first two, and as a broader profile have won just one of their last six at home.

Sociedad look slicker under Asier Garitano and have a far deeper squad to choose from – they appear to be the clear pick to take all three points back to San Sebastian, at a decent value 13/8 or 17/10.

Moving onto Saturday, the nascent Liga table sees Celta Vigo (8th) a place above Atlético Madrid, both sitting on four points after a draw and a win.

They clash at the Balaidos (5.30pm) in a fixture which Atleti nicked 0-1 in the quivalent fixture last season, a game where the lone dividing goal came prior to the half hour mark courtesy of the now departed Kevin Gameiro.

The Europa League winners will have been pleased with news of a distinctly winnable looking Champions League group on Thursday, a section which will see them face Borussia Dortmund, Club Brugge and AS Monaco.

Atleti laboured to a 1-0 home victory against newly promoted neighbours Rayo Vallecano last Saturday, but don’t forget they had an excellent transfer window, not only in terms of signings but also in terms of players retained. They can only improve and ought to have enough to sneak this away from home, a 4/5 chance.

Finally, the La Liga fixture computer has spat out an early treat on Sunday night (7.45pm), with a Seville derby to look forward to to round off the weekend. Real Betis v Sevilla at the 60,720 capacity Estadio Benito Villamarín, game on!

Surely this one can’t be as riotous as the pair we were treated to in 2017/18, an end of season 2-2 draw which followed a staggering 3-5 away win for Betis in early January.

This time around Betis, who lest we forget have won that game but no other on the last 12 occasions these two have met, come into the game scrapping for early season form, whereas Sevilla have made a sharp beginning to the campaign, winning 1-4 at Rayo Vallecano on the opening day.

Held 0-0 last weekend by Villarreal, they’ve had the distraction of Europa League football midweek, and might have to settle for a share of the spoils here.

Betis are yet to score and badly need to kick-start their season, while their fans will be desperate for them to avoid defeat.

Since the last meeting ended all square I’m happy to take the draw, a result which would save face and suit both sides of the divide, at odds as big as 11/4.

Good luck!

This weekend’s best bets in La Liga:

Fri 9.00pm – Eibar v Real Sociedad – Away Win

Sat 5.30pm – Celta Vigo v Atlético Madrid – Away Win

Sun 7.45pm – Real Betis v Sevilla – Draw

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Posted 2 months, 3 weeks ago

24 Aug
2018

In A Liga Of Its Own…(24, 25 & 26 Aug)

Spanish football’s elite top flight, La Liga, is undoubtedly the dominant force in European football in recent times, providing seven of the last 10 finalists in the Champions League, as well as seven of the last 10 winners.

What’s more, Atlético Madrid’s win after extra time in Estonia means nine of the last 10 European Super Cups have gone to a Spanish side, in a period where a stunning 21 of the 30 available European trophies, Champions League, Europa League and Super Cup, have headed in the same direction.

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…

The opening round of fixtures is renowned for throwing up surprises, but they certainly didn’t come any bigger this time around than last season’s great entertainers Real Betis being humbled 0-3 at home by a sharp-looking Levante, who played slick counter-attacking football, aided by their well marshalled two lines of four in defence and midfield.

The abiding memory of that game will be a peach of a second goal from Levante skipper José Luis Morales, but it’s miles too soon to be writing off the Andalusian side, who appear to have re-stocked their squad well in the summer months, adding Sergio Canales on a free from Real Sociedad, plus Japanese international Takashi Inui (also on a free) from Eibar.

Were they rusty? Were they complacent? Were they unlucky?

It’s impossible to be totally sure, but they can’t be as bad again and have a golden opportunity to kick-start their season on Saturday, when they make the long journey north to face Basque side Alavés in the Mendizorrotza (5.15pm).

The Babazorros averaged just 1.05 goals per Liga game last season, and after trying and dismally failing to shut out Barcelona in the Nou Camp last weekend (3-0, including two from Messi) they could be in for another long 90 minutes here.

Of course Betis come with risks attached after such a poor opening effort, but they’ve got loads of quality and can edge this at odds of around 8/5 or slightly bigger depending on where you shop around.

Another side making changes over the summer were Real Sociedad, the San Sebastián side who have a new boss in the dugout after recruiting Asier Garitano, the man who led Leganés to two promotions in just four seasons.

He’s joined on a three year deal and has made an immediate impact, guiding his men to a 2-1 away victory at Villarreal first time out.

Their Friday night opponents (9.15pm) as they try and maintain their unbeaten record?

None other than his former side, with the fixture list giving him only a week before sending him back to the same Leganés he left on excellent terms back in May .

Garitano is on record as saying he believes “in players, not systems”, and whatever he’s doing seems to be working well so far, with an obvious rapport among the starting eleven last weekend.

For their part, his old team Leganés were unfortunate in Bilbao on Monday night, seeing only 33% of the overall possession but looking like they’d done enough for a point, only to be undone by a 93rd minute winner from Iker Muniain.

Leganés look like they’ll be solid under Mauricio Pellegrino, but don’t forget they limped to 17th last year and don’t have La Real’s depth or quality. Away win for Garitano at odds in the region of 6/5.

Finally, Valencia did really well on Monday night to fight back for at point at home to Atlético Madrid, their equaliser coming via a beauty from Rodrigo.

There’s no question they’ll be good to watch again this season, and can win away on Sunday (5.15pm) against a bang average Espanyol, who began with a risk averse 1-1 draw up in Vigo.

So there you go – three away wins please, barman.

Good luck!

This weekend’s best bets in La Liga:

9.15pm Fri – Leganés v Real Sociedad – Away Win

5.15pm Sat – Alavés v Real Betis – Away Win

5.15pm Sun – Espanyol v Valencia – Away Win

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Posted 2 months, 4 weeks ago

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