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…
After being deprived of Spanish top flight football for what has seemed like an eternity (two whole weeks in reality) it’s a warm welcome back to the top flight for matchday 18 of the season, one which kicks off at midday on Saturday with buoyant Atlético Madrid playing host to neighbours Getafe at the Wanda Metropolitano.
That this fixture represents second against eighth is a tribute to a rock solid start to the season for both sides, with the visitors making themselves especially hard to play against, and in doing so posting an impressive six wins and five draws up until now.
They’re certainly not to be underestimated, having made Real Madrid sweat for three points at their Estadio Coliseum Alfonso Pérez back in October, before beating an under-par Valencia 1-0 in a heated encounter at the same venue a few weeks later.
A reasonable yield of 22 goals scored is better than Sevilla in fifth (20), and the same as Eibar in seventh.
They also signed off with a 2-0 pre-Christmas canter against whipping boys Las Palmas on December 20th, but this fixture could very well turn out to be their toughest of the season to date…
Atléti eased themselves into 2018 with a 4-0 Copa del Rey stroll at Lleida on Wednesday night, a result which not only renders the second leg harmless, but also marked the return of a certain Diego Costa, who was returning to competitive action for the club after leaving in May 2014.
He scored as well, within just five and a half minutes of joining the fray, and looking ahead can add bite and much-needed goals to the defensive excellence already displayed by his team-mates.
That’s just one of a host of reasons why Atléti are to be taken very, very seriously in the second half of the campaign.
Favourites for the Europa League in which FC Copenhagen await next, Diego Simeone’s team can bolt on flair to their steely demeanour, and this home game is exactly the sort they need to be easing through.
I think they’ll win without conceding – after all, they’ve let in just eight in 17 so far.
Atléti to win to nil is evens with BetVictor.
Also on Saturday, Eibar can continue their outstanding late 2017 form by winning away to basement boys Las Palmas (5.30pm).
Four games in December yielded a seriously eye-catching three wins plus a draw, hoisting them up the table after a broader spell which also means they have won five of their last six league games.
Impressive stuff, especially as they’re coming up against a side with a goal difference of -25!
For their part, Las Palmas were better at home in midweek when holding a much changed Valencia to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their round of 16 Copa Del Rey tie, and perhaps yet another new coach, Paco Jémez this time, is having at least some sort of positive effect.
Whether it’s enough to stop them slipping to their thirteenth league defeat of the campaign is another question entirely though, and Eibar ought too have too much quality.
It’s the away win that gets my vote at a handsome 9/5 with either Hills or Betfair Sportsbook.
This weekend’s best bets in La Liga:
12.00pm Sat – Atlético Madrid v Getafe – Atlético to win to nil @ Evens (BetVictor)
5.30pm Sat – Las Palmas v Eibar – Away win @ 9/5 (Betfair Sportsbook)