After a two week break, the Spanish La Liga returns with an enticing looking fixtures list that is set to have football fans calling for an encore.
League champions Barcelona will continue to be without Argentine superstar Lionel Messi, as the Catalans look to bounce back from their shocking defeat to Sevilla. While Real Madrid and Levante will go head to head on Saturday night in what can only be described as a bloodbath waiting to happen. Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid will look to return to winning ways when they take on a Real Sociedad side in disarray. There’s money to be made this weekend and I’m confident I’ve got a couple winners.
Saturday 17 October
Valencia will be hoping to return to winning ways when they host Malaga this weekend. The pressure on coach Nuno Espirito Santo was increased as his side blew a 1-0 lead to lose 3-1 at Athletic Bilbao, last time out. Daniel Parejo had given Valencia the lead before the Basques side struck back through Aymeric Laporte and Markel Susaeta. While Aritz Aduriz put the final goal on the board. Los Che will be happy to return to the Mestalla Stadium where they remain unbeaten. A brilliant hat-trick from Charles Oliveira gave Malaga their first win of the league season, as their 10 men beat Real Sociedad 3-1 at home. The Anchovies will be hoping to build on that performance, but are without a win on the road this season. Valencia have never lost at home to Malaga and have won eleven of the fourteen matches played between the sides. The home win is a banker bet.
Rayo Vallecano 15/1
Barcelona will be looking to get their season back on track after losing 2-1 to Sevilla last time out, and what better place to start than against a team they have repeatedly embarrassed in recent years. The La Liga champions have won the last nine meetings against Los Vallecanos, scoring forty goals and conceding just twice. Los Vallecanos have lost four of their seven matches played so far and will struggle to cope with Barcelona’s lethal offence. Luis Enrique's men will still be without star player Lionel Messi, but with the triple threat of Neymar, Luis Suarez and Munir, Barcelona should oust their opponents here. The Catalans are a bit short at 1/7 and given the fact that eight of their last nine meetings have seen them score three goals or more, I suggest taking them to ‘Win By Three Or More Goals’ at 9/10.
Real Madrid 1/14
Real Madrid were fortunate to leave the Vicente Calderon with a point to their names after Antoine Griezmann missed from the penalty spot to deny Atletico Madrid all three points. Rafa Benitez would have been happy with that result, but will expect his team to return to winning ways against Levante. Los Blancos have won the last seven meetings with Les Granotes, scoring twenty-four goals and only conceding six. There has been a lot of grumbling about the FIFA Virus and players getting themselves injured on international duty. Karim Benzema’s potential three-week absence has certainly spooked Real Madrid, with him being their only proper striker. Nevertheless, Benitez has a host of attacking stars at his disposal with the likes of Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo leading a lethal team that is superior to Levante in all departments. Los Blancos to ‘Win By Three Or More Goals’ is the way to go at 13/20.
Real Betis 11/10
Real Betis have looked mighty impressive in their return to La Liga, securing three wins from first seven games. Pepe Mel’s side have won two on the bounce, defeating both Sporting Gijon and Rayo Vallecano. Betis already sit five points above the relegation zone and appear to be headed for a comfortable season. Espanyol have lost four of their seven matches thus far, including their last two against Deportivo La Coruna and Sporting Gijon. Betis won their last league meeting between the sides by two goals to nil at the Benito Villamarin. Back the home side at 11/10.
Sevilla will be high on confidence coming into this match following their superb 2-1 win over Barcelona, last time out. The Catalans were without talisman Lionel Messi, but Rojiblanco coach Unai Emery had to contend with having eight players missing - including his first three choice centre-backs. Sevilla, welcome back a host of their first team regulars this weekend and will be looking to make it three wins on the trot. Los Rojiblancos have lost just once to Eibar in their last eight meetings. It won't be a walkover for Sevilla however as Eibar have looked solid this season. The Armeros' have won three of their seven games played thus far and have only been defeated once. The draw looks the likely outcome at 11/10, but Sevilla on the double chance at 3/10 is the safest option.
Sunday 18 October
Athletic Bilbao 7/4
Athletic Bilbao will be hoping to build on their impressive 3-1 victory over Valencia, last time out, but face a stern test from in-form Deportivo La Coruna team. The Blue and Whites have won three of their last five games, with the only blemish to their record being a loss to Sporting Gijon. Vitor Sanchez will be confident of picking up maximum points this weekend, despite the head-to-head record against Bilbao drastically favouring Ernesto Valverde's side. The Lions have won seven of their last 11 meetings, with their only loss coming in the 2009/2010 season. Bilbao are struggling to find their rhythm this season but with the talented trio of Susaeta, Muniain and Aduriz leading the attack, I'm tipping the Lions to beat their opponents.
Real Sociedad 31/10
Atletico Madrid 1/1
Luciano Vietto scored his first goal for Atletico Madrid to salvage a 1-1 draw for Diego Simeone’s side against city rivals Real Madrid, in round 7. Rojiblancos could have come away with maximum points had Antoine Griezmann converted his penalty - but a point against Real is not the worst result. Atleti' will be looking to return to winning ways and will be confident of doing so given their impressive record against Real Sociedad. Rojiblancos have won eight of their last eleven meetings with David Moyes’ men. Real Sociedad have recorded just one win from seven matches played in the league thus far and will likely have another loss added to that tally this weekend. Atleti have a talented side with the likes of Vietto, Angel Correa, Griezmann and Fernando Torres all capable of causing problems for the team that sit 18th on the table. Take Atletico to win at even money.
Celta Vigo 27/10
League leaders Villarreal, will be looking to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat to Levante in round seven. They will be happy to return to their home stadium which has become somewhat of a fortress. The team affectionately known as 'The Yellow Submarine' have won all three of their home games this season. Celta Vigo have also enjoyed a good start to the season and are unbeaten in the league thus far. They have won two of their three away games, including wins against Levante and Sevilla. Villarreal have won the last two meetings by 3-1 and 4-1 scorelines. Both Teams To Score is the bet here at 13/20, but if I had to pick a winner I’d back the Yellow Submarine to make home advantage count.
Las Palmas 3/1
Getafe earned a commendable draw away to Celta Vigo last time out and El Geta will be hoping to record maximum points against Las Palmas this weekend. Getafe have won two of their three home games this season, beating Malaga and Levante. Newcomers, Las Palmas suffered a 2-0 home defeat to Eibar before the international break - their fourth loss of the campaign. These sides last met in the Segunda Division back in 2004 with Getafe 3-0 winners on the day. The home win is tipped at even money.
Monday 19 October
Sporting Gijon 11/10
Sporting Gijon will welcome Granada to the El Molinon on Monday night. Gijon are still searching for their first home win of the season but will be confident of collecting all three points against a team lying at the bottom of the table. A last-gasp winner from Alex Menendez saw Sporting Gijon beat Espanyol 2-1 and pick up their second win of the season. Granada went down 1-0 to Valencia last time out - their fifth defeat from their seven games played. The Nazaries have been in dreadful form, scoring just five goals and conceding thirteen. Back the home side at 11/10.
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