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…
Back with a bang from the unpopular international break, jornada 12 has a very obvious highlight at 7.45pm on Saturday evening, with the first ever meeting between the two Madrid giants, Atleti and Real, at the gleaming new Wanda Metropoliano.
Six months on from the capital city rivals playing out a thunderous (literally) Champions League semi-final, we find them a third of the way through season 2017/18, locked together on 23 points, meaning this represents fourth against third.
Apart from at home to Chelsea in the Champions League, Simeone’s Atleti have been nigh on impossible to beat, winning six and drawing five of their 11 league games so far, though with the lowest goals for tally in the top five (16).
Across town, Real’s form has been more unpredictable. A pair of stumbles in the league plus a comprehensive defeat to Spurs at Wembley means the gato is very much among the pigeons when it comes to weighing up their season to date.
Mean, miserly, solid and dependable Atletico, against their neighbours who are harder to second guess, but would surely love to bank a point and come out of this something to hold before they head to Cyprus for Champions League duty on Monday.
For that reason, it’s a draw all the way in this for me, with both bet365 and Stan James offering 5/2 about the stalemate.
Another team who love to keep it tight are Leganes, who find themselves in a highly respectable ninth position after conceding just eight all season, the third best defensive tally in the division after Barca and Atletico!
The problem for them is in finding a way through, with their yield of nine in 11 equating to just 0.81 goals per game.
Up against rampant table-toppers Barcelona on Saturday afternoon at the Estadio Municipal de Batarque (3.15pm), that’s not especially likely to suddenly improve – the Catalan giants have let in just four so far, while notching 30 of their own!
Therefore, it doesn’t sound too exquisite to suggest the way to go is Barcelona to win to nil at BetVictor’s 23/20.
I’m not sure they’ll run away with it, but the league leaders can emerge with a valuable victory, while maintaining that excellent rearguard form.
Finally, if you’re looking for something a shade more high risk, what about Levante to claw out a crucial away win against Las Palmas in Gran Canaria (Sun, 5.30pm)?
Strugglers Deportivo went there and swatted them 3-1 just three weeks ago, beating a team who haven’t exactly flourished since bizarrely getting shot of ace former manager, Manolo Marquez, who really seemed to have the makings of something good despite humble resources.
On -20 the islanders have the worst goal difference in the entire division, and entertain visitors who’ve been scrapping hard for points, losing just three of their 11 to date.
Levante could very well come away with a third win of the campaign, an outcome that strikes me as overpriced at the 11/4 available with Betfred or SkyBet.
This weekend’s best bets in La Liga:
3.15pm (Sat) – Leganes v Barcelona – BARCELONA TO WIN TO NIL @ 23/20 (BetVictor)
7.45pm (Sat) – Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid – DRAW @ 5/2 (bet365)
5.30pm (Sun) – Las Palmas v Levante – AWAY WIN @ 11/4 (Betfred)