Villarreal makes small step towards ambitious goal

This weekend has been truly spectacular as far as Primera Division fans are concerned, unless you are rooting for Barcelona in which case, it is a forgettable one. The reigning champions suffered a complete meltdown in front of their supporters when they lost to Valencia and allowed three goals for the first time this season. Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid could take advantage of their slump and overtake them, but both these teams are facing tough opponents.

Villarreal vs Osasuna February 3 2014 Betting Tip villarrealReal Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao are no pushovers and although they don’t expect to win the title this season, they have their sights locked on the Champions League. Both are in good position to secure such a spot, but they are not the only ones in this race. Villarreal can be the fortunate winner of this extraordinary weekend, as they are the only one of the top 7 teams that fights a weak opponent.

Osasuna comes visiting and players are under no impression that more than a draw would be possible, especially with their recent results. The small team from Pamplona is trying to avoid relegation, its recurrent objective and it is far from celebrating success. Granted they are safely about the dangerous area, there are only a few points separating them from teams sitting on relegation spots.

Tonight they will field their standard formation featuring Riera, Torres and Armenteros the three players that scored the vast majority of their goals. What is somewhat surprising is the fact that only the former is a striker, while the other two are midfielders who sometimes shoot at the opponents’ net. By contrast, the hosts have a solid roster and a couple of players who are more than capable at finding he breaches in a permeable defensive such as Osasuna’s.

Uche, dos Santos and Perbet are the ones that Villarreal will be counting tonight and it is most unlikely for any of them to be retired even if the hosts take the lead early in the game. They simply can’t afford to take chance and see Osasuna tying the score in the final minutes of the match, so the hosts will keep pushing until the last whistle. This is why punters shouldn’t settle for the match line and instead bet on Villarreal to cover the -1.5 goals spread. It shouldn’t be too difficult and the odds are just good enough to warrant the effort and risk taken.

Atletico Madrid expected to start a new scoring festival

atleticomadridIt’s been a while since Atletico Madrid failed to win in two consecutive weeks, but that’s exactly what happened in January. They drew at home against Barcelona in the most anticipated game of the month and then settled for a 1-1 draw away at Valencia in Copa del Rey. That incident had no consequences as the team from the capital won the second leg and advanced to the next stage of the competition.

Now it is time for them to earn three more points in Primera Division, as Barcelona is also expected to win comfortably away from home at Levante. Since the two teams are separated by their goal average and none has lost a game in a long while, winning this fixture against Sevilla is of critical importance. Luckily for the hosts, their opponents are not only vulnerable to rapid counterattacks, but have struggled in the past against Atletico Madrid.

To think that Sevilla was struggling at the bottom of the standings with their city rivals and now compete with tough teams for a Europa League berth is impressive. They have risen to the challenge and won several games at home, but on the road they are still struggling to win consecutive games. They were outplayed and outshot by Elche in the previous round and can consider themselves lucky not to lose that fixture, after tying the score with 1 minute left in the match.

Numbers speak for themselves and those who want to see how Sevilla matched up against Atletico, should head on to http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/football/liga/2013-2014/atletico-madrid-sevilla-fc-632001.html. These figures are reliable, but what is more important is that the numerous absentees in their backline are going to provide the hosts with plenty of opportunities to score. Suarez is the only player missing from their rotation and he doesn’t play a critical role so his absence will go unnoticed.

One way to tackle this match would be the straightforward one of backing the hosts to win or even cover the spread of an Asian handicap. The odds are decent for the second type of bet, but those who expect the hosts to score a few goals should better wager on the totals market. Over 3.5 goals to be scored is the kind of bet that can more than double your investment without taking big chances, but risk-averse players could also settle for the 2.5 line.

Granada favorite against depleted Rayo Vallecano

granadaOne reason for why the hosts are still struggling at the basement of the standings is that they miss a couple of essential players. The injury list recently gone wider and this time they will be playing without seven essential players, with the midfield being particularly affected. With a single victory in the last eight games, Rayo Vallecano is clearly heading into the wrong direction and unless something changes soon, they will slip again into the relegation area.

Granada used to have the same problem a couple of weeks ago and many still regard them as a strong candidate for relegation, but for the time being they are far away from the dangerous zone. They have a habit for winning back-to-back games and even though there winning streak was snapped by Barcelona, they shouldn’t drop points at Rayo Vallecano. Granada has already collected valuable points against main counter candidates for relegation and they would gladly settle for a draw tonight.

The good news for the visitors is that they don’t have any injury concerns, unlike their rivals who struggle to put together a competitive team. If opportunity arises, Granada will try to take the initiative despite not having home pitch advantage and filing their performance in Copa del Rey we would be wrong to credit them with the first chance. The key to victory tonight would be to maintain constant pressure in the first half, because with their midfield ravaged by injuries and suspensions, the hosts are unlikely to withstand pressure.

Bookmakers are extremely and surprisingly generous with the visiting team, with bold punters having the opportunity of tripling their investment if they back Granada to win in regulation time. A far riskier proposition that has odds only slightly below even value is the double chance wager, which pays off if the visitors win or draw. Granted there haven’t been many games ending undecided when Granada was on the pitch, this somewhat awkward statistics shouldn’t have a deterring effect on punters.

A preview of the relegation battle in Almeria

almeriaTo say that things are not going according to the plan for Almeria would be an understatement, because the team is struggling in the basement of the standings. Their objective for 2013 is to avoid relegation but if they keep making steps into the same directions, they will find it impossible to avoid this fate at the end of the season. The only team that sits below them is Rayo Vallecano who managed to accumulate just three points in eight games and are among the candidates for relegation.

This is why this confrontation is particularly important, as the one who loses tonight in Almeria is very likely to seal its fate. Although there are plenty of rounds left to be played in the Spanish domestic league, losing to a main counter candidate is disheartening and will have long-term consequences. The two teams are a defensive mess and concede an astonishing amount of goals even when playing against relatively weak opponents. At least in theory, the gap separating them from the other teams struggling to leave the relegation area is not considerable, but the manner in which they lose games is shocking.

Rayo Vallecano lost consecutive games while conceding for goals and even though they’ve somewhat strengthen their defenses recently, they are still unable to score goals of their own. This makes it particularly surprising that they found the resources to take advantage of Real Sociedad’s slump and won their first and only game this season. To explain this result, it is sufficient to look at the starting formation that the visiting team relied on in that particular game, as Sociedad chose to rest its key players.

They are trying to save whatever can still be saved in the Champions League after losing both games in a highly competitive group. Meanwhile, Rayo Vallecano doesn’t have such high aspirations, but they are bound to put all precautions aside and come out firing on all cylinders at Almeria. The hosts have conceded two goals or more in nine consecutive games and even though they score some of their own, it is never enough to deliver a victory.

Something’s got to give tonight when the two worst teams in Primera Division go at each other’s throats and punters would be right to bet on the number of goals. The odds for more than 2.5 goals to be scored are much better than those offered for indicating the outright winner, not to mention that the result is much easier to predict.

Valencia plans on staying invincible against Granada

valenciaThe two teams met four times so far and each time Valencia emerged victorious, granted they had to fight hard for each victory. All four wins were secured by a narrow margin, yet a similar result would mean a lot for a team that is struggling at the bottom of the tables.

This weekend, Valencia earned a rare victory against Sevilla at home and scored three goals, for the first time this season. It was exactly what the Bats needed after losing consecutive games and suffering a lopsided defeat in the opening game of the Champions League. Their strikers were nonexistent against Swansea but came back to life just a couple of days later, scoring against depleted Sevilla.

Tonight they will travel to Granada which proved to be a stringy team this season and the best proof is that they’ve collected five points in five games. One of the few defeats suffered by the hosts was caused by Real Madrid who also prevailed by an odd goal, something that prompts pundits to forecast a tight game tonight. Those who watched that particular match live know that the final score is a bit misleading, because the 2011 champions squandered numerous opportunities.

Valencia will not have as many chances to score as Real Madrid, but all they need is to be a bit more clinical and they should emerge victorious. This is the best time to trust them at full stakes to win away from home, as bookmakers are reluctant to grant them favorite status even against inferior opponents. Granada is such a team and they are well aware of the fact that they start at a disadvantage, so will once again field just one striker.

Their strategy for this season in simple, as they try to avoid relegation once again and by drawing against Valencia and other top Spanish teams, they might do just that. There is no point in betting on more than 2.5 goals to be scored, as the hosts lack the will to put a lot of pressure on the visitors, while the latter were not particularly effective up front. Valencia needs to win back-to-back games if it is to make a successful run in a European championship this season and resurgence should start in Granada.

Don’t discount Mallorca as relegated

Even the team who has hit rock bottom such as Mallorca could rally in the final round and avoid relegation, although staying alive is a tall order for the hosts. The main problem is that they don’t have their fate in their hands and depend on their counter candidates, not to win tonight. Zaragoza will be facing Atletico Madrid, an opponent that is one class about them while Deportivo will lock horns with Real Sociedad, who needs to win to keep its Champions League dreams alive.

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The most dangerous game is the one playing in Vigo where the local team meets Levante, an opponent who lost all motivation and is bleeding points. Fortunately for Mallorca, they will be facing an equally complacent opponent, as Valladolid sits on a convenient 14th place. The visitors will be traveling with the second team and Javi Guerra will probably replace starting striker Goncalves at half time. Valladolid is a poor traveling team and now that motivation is at its lowest, they will be even less competitive.

The odds are stacked against them, but the hosts are not to be discounted as relegated, because only two months ago La Coruna was in a similar situation. Everyone was reluctant to give them a chance to avoid relegation, but they have past a serious test and are now favorites to play in Primera Division next season.  Form more on their recital visit http://www.thesoccer-blog.com/the-real-test-for-deportivo-la-coruna/.

Punters benefit of less than stellar odds, with 1.50 containing very little value, which means that it is worth being patient. One way of tackling this game is by placing live bets, while watching closely what happens on other venues. If Celta Vigo takes an early lead and expands it, then it might be profitable to lay Mallorca because players will lose confidence and wait for the inevitable.

The real test for Deportivo la Coruna

Atletico Madrid has twice as many points as Deportivo la Coruna, but tonight the bookmakers are wrong to credit them with the first chance to prevail. Away from home, they’ve been more of a mediocre team and without one of their most prolific strikers, Diego Costa, all the pressure will bear on Falcao. Granted he is more than capable of single-handedly defeat Deportivo la Coruna in a good day, in the absence of any real goal and with motivation at the lowest levels this season, he is unlikely to play at 100%.

deportivo

By contrast, the hosts are poised to do their best tonight, because losing to Atletico Madrid could render all their efforts virtually useless. Undefeated in six consecutive rounds, Deportivo la Coruna is still just one point above the relegation line and all three counter candidates are within striking distance. Celta Vigo missed out on the opportunities to build a gap between them and La Coruna after drawing at home and will have to settle for being tied for the 17th place.

The hosts have no less than five players missing and two of them are serving a suspension after receiving a red card in the previous round. The most painful absentee is the Portuguese striker Pizzi who used to pair upfront with Riki and was responsible for most of the goals scored in April. Without him, Deportivo will have to choose between Bruno Gama and Nelson Oliveira and none of them are suitable replacements. Together they’ve scored as many goals as Pizzi so we shouldn’t be surprised if the hosts will choose to use a 5-4-1 starting formation with only Riki in the offensive.

The goal of the game isn’t winning against Atletico Madrid, although this would represent an extraordinary performance, but securing a point at home. They have a relatively easy schedule and not losing against one of the top teams in Primera Division would greatly boost their chances of avoiding relegation. On the other hand, both Zaragoza and Mallorca play at home this weekend and there’s a good chance for at least one of them to secure all three points.

Atletico Madrid would normally start with the first chance, but even the fact that they are 100% of their Champions League berth, the visitors will shift into a less aggressive gear. Falcao is highly unlikely to play 90 min. and in this context, it is only fair to assume that Deportivo will have a decent chance of securing at least a point. Punters can take advantage of this rare opportunity and back the hosts not to lose, with the odds revolving around even values.

Betis can be a hard nut to crack

Betis Sevilla is still in the race for a European cup spot, despite the fact that they have only won a game in more than a month. A string of inconclusive results are endangering their presence in Europa league and their dreams of playing among the best European squads in the Champions League have all but vanished. Tonight they will start as huge underdogs in Madrid against a team that has a good chance at securing the trophy in the aforementioned competition and is already qualified for the next edition.

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http://www.wsn.com/football/preview/spanish-la-liga/real-betis-sevilla_vs_real-madrid-preview/ has an insightful article about the upcoming game and raises some questions about whether punters should back Real Madrid at full stakes. The odds for a home victory are insignificant and there is no value whatsoever in placing such a wager, while trusting the hosts to cover a -2.5 goals spread is extremely risky. The visitors miss three players, but none of them are recent injuries and the team has fully adjusted to play without them.

The most recent game against city rivals Sevilla turned into a scoring festival, with both teams leading and then coming from behind. Six goals were scored one week ago and the scenario can’t be dismissed as fantasy for tonight’s fixture, especially with Real Madrid being the top team. The only concern that punters might have, albeit a very serious one is that Mourinho will choose not to field his best starting formation. The Portuguese coach is going to do his best to capture the Champions League trophy with this team, given the fact that he is very likely to leave it in a not so distant future.

Betis failed to win despite having home pitch advantage last round, but they are not the team to defend away from home not even against the Spanish giants. The head to head record is intimidating with Real Madrid winning 10 out of 17 games, but very few of those victories were achieved by a crushing score. From a punter’s point of view, there is simply more value in trusting the visitors not to lose by a wide margin, then to back the hosts to cover a handicap spread. Another interesting choice is to go against the current and wager on few goals to be scored, counting on the fact that Betis will keep its guard up trying to secure a point on one of the most difficult stadiums in Spain.