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.
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