05 Oct

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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