Moyes up against it going into tasty Basque derby
David Moyes heads into his second Basque derby since taking charge of Real Sociedad with an urgent need for three points against high-flying Eibar after a dip in form has left his side without a win in their last four matches.
Eibar are the success story of La Liga this season and sit eighth in the table going into Saturday night’s game, eight points above their more illustrious hosts.
Before the season few will have expected the newly-promoted side from Ipurua to find themselves out of the bottom three but they start the second half of the campaign as the top Basque side by a distance.
Gaizka Garitano’s men have started 2015 unbeaten with two wins and a draw and that should make odds of 4/1 for a victory at Anoeta appealing, especially given La Real’s poor performance in a 1-0 home defeat by hit-and-miss Rayo Vallecano last weekend.
Do not expect many goals, although Mikel Arruabarrena found the back of the net for Eibar in the 1-1 draw at Cordoba last weekend with his fifth goal of the season and the forward is a generous 8/1 to open the scoring in San Sebastian.
Former Arsenal man Carlos Vela is usually charged with finding the goals for Moyes’ men and he is 4/1 to fire the hosts ahead. For an outside bet, centre-back Inigo Martinez can be a threat from set-pieces and has chipped in with a couple of goals this season. The Spain international is 20/1 to score first.
Madrid out to maintain top-spot at Cordoba
Cordoba and Real Madrid kick things off in La Liga in Andalusia on Saturday afternoon and although Miroslav Djukic’s men are battling for top-flight survival, spirits will be high going into the visit of the league leaders thanks to an upturn in form.
The difference in stature, wage bill, player power and form is mirrored in odds of 10/91 for Carlo Ancelotti’s side to leave with all three points and maintain their spot at the league’s summit.
But Cordoba’s Estadio Nuevo Arcangel will be packed for the occasion and the hosts have won two and drawn one of their matches since the turn of the year. Odds of 7/1 for the draw may be tempting and although a long shot, 19/1 for a home win may not be as hard to go for as it would have been before the winter break.
Cordoba’s Florin Andone scored the fourth-quickest goal in La Liga history last weekend when he opened the scoring in the 1-1 draw with Eibar. The striker has scored twice in three games and to open the scoring again offers 14/1. To do so and give the hosts a shock early lead inside the first ten minutes gives 22/1.
At the other end of the spectrum, Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 27th and 28th goals of the season in the 3-0 derby triumph at Getafe and the Portuguese star is 13/5 to open the scoring with his 29th this weekend.
The rest of La Liga
Barcelona will look to stay hot-on-the-heels of Madrid when they visit Elche just hours after Ancelotti’s men kick-off in Andalusia. The Catalans will fancy their chances of a sixth win on the spin against a side battling against relegation, at odds of 1/6, but things may not be so straight forward for Luis Enrique and his men.
Barca may well have one eye on the midweek trip to Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey, a date that booked thanks to two comfortable wins over Elche in the previous round, and Luis Enrique may make rotations to keep legs fresh.
They also face an Elche side who have won two and drawn one of their three Liga matches since the turn of the year. A Barca slip-up offers 25/4 for the draw and 31/2 for a shock Elche win.
Brazilian Jonathas has been leading the Elche fight against relegation with eight goals this term, including the winner against Levante last time out, and the 25-year-old is 10/3 to get on the scoresheet against Barca.
Lionel Messi and Neymar may be finding the net with ease for the Catalans but former Liverpool man Luis Suarez has not been since making the switch to Spain. The Uruguayan has scored at a ratio of just 0.31 per game during his time at the Camp Nou and he will be hoping to fix that. He is 5/6 to score anytime or 7/2 to open the scoring.
There’s a Madrid derby on Saturday afternoon when Rayo Vallecano make the short trip across the Spanish capital to face third-placed Atletico Madrid. As with Elche against Barca, Paco Jemez and his Rayo side will look to capitalise on any changes Diego Simeone makes with next week’s Copa del Rey fixture in mind.
The Vallecas club edged out Moyes’ Real Sociedad by the odd goal last weekend and they will have striker Leo Baptistao, on-loan from Atleti back in contention to face his parent club. Manucho could continue as the lone striker, however, after scoring the winner at Anoeta last weekend and he is 12/1 to hit the ground running and score first at the Calderon.
Frenchman Antoine Griezmann is expected to return to the starting line-up at the expense of former Chelsea and Liverpool man Fernando Torres, who started in the cup at Barcelona on Wednesday, and he will be out to end a run of five games without finding the back of the net.
Griezmann is 7/2 to score anytime, while a probably win for the hosts is reflected in odds of 2/7.
Another mini derby awaits at El Madrigal as Villarreal host Levante at El Madrigal on Saturday night.
The teams are fighting at opposite ends of the table, with Marcelino’s men flying towards the European places and the latter stages of the Copa del Rey thanks to an impressive run of 16 games without defeat.
Levante, on the other hand, have won just once since the end of November and suffered a 2-0 home defeat in the reverse fixture on the opening day of the season.
The Yellow Submarines have won handsomely in recent matches and a two-goal winning margin offers 27/10. Luciano Vietto is the man of the moment and is attracting the interest of clubs around Europe.
The Argentine is the club’s top-scorer with eight goals and he is 14/5 to open the scoring with his ninth of the campaign this weekend. Real Madrid loan man Denis Cheryshev is suspended but that should not stem the flow of the Villarreal run.
Nothing less than three points will do for Deportivo La Coruna and Granada when the pair meet at the Riazor on Sunday morning in a proverbial ‘three-pointer’.
Both sides are facing a tough battle against the drop to the Segunda but their form is not that of sights fighting to stay in the top flight. Granada have failed to win in their last 15 matches while Depor have not scored in seven of their last nine outings.
Granada will at least be hoping for a boost with the return of Abel Resino as manager. Joaquin Caparros was dismissed last week and for his successor to inspire a much-needed win brings odds of 5/2.
On paper the game does not inspire and with neither side fluid in attack, odds of 49/10 for a goalless draw looks a good shout.
Athletic Bilbao’s form continues to get worse and Ernesto Valverde’s side will be out to thwart a fifth straight loss in all competitions when top-six chasing Malaga visit San Mames on Sunday afternoon.
The Basques have not won in their last six matches and have lost their last three on home soil, meaning the side from La Rosaleda will fancy their chances of a win at 57/20.
The game is the second of three between the sides in the space of a week after the pair were drawn together in the Copa del Rey. The first leg finished 0-0 in Malaga and a repeat of that scoreline in the league offers 59/10.
Javi Guerra, on-loan at Malaga from Wigan Athletic, could be in-line for a start for the visitors and he is 7/1 to open the scoring with his maiden goal for his hometown club.
Espanyol will be buoyed by their impressive 3-1 cup win over Sevilla on Thursday night when they welcome struggling Almeria to Barcelona on Sunday.
That victory, on top of wins against Valencia and Celta Vigo and coupled with Almeria suffering three straight defeats, makes Sergio’s men favourites for all three points at 8/11, especially on home soil, where they are becoming hard to beat.
The goals were shared out in the midweek cup win but Real Madrid loan man Lucas Vazquez scored the third and is in hot form. For him to open the scoring offers odds of 13/2, while top-scorer Sergio Garcia is 4/1.
The battle for the Champions League places will heat up on Sunday night when Valencia welcome Sevilla to the Mestalla.
Unai Emery’s side fell to defeat at Espanyol in the cup in midweek and Valencia fell to the Catalans in the previous round. A place in Europe’s elite competition is the main aim for both clubs this season, however, and the Andalusians have the edge by a point and with a game in hand.
Valencia centre-back Nicolas Otamendi, linked with a move to Manchester United this week, is expected to shake off a knock and start in the heart of the home defence and at 7/1 the Argentine is a good outside bet to find the back of the net, as he did in the 2-1 victory over Real Madrid in his team’s previous league home game.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side are strong at home, especially against the league’s better teams, and Sevilla’s first defeat in 12 games on Thursday night could ensure a tough afternoon for them at the Mestalla.
The hosts are 23/20 to leapfrog Sevilla up to fourth with victory and as fast starters adds of 6/1 for Valencia to lead inside the first ten minutes could be worth taking.
Celta Vigo will look to end a dreadful run of eight league games without a win, and just a point from a possible 24, when they visit the Spanish capital to take on Getafe in the Monday night game.
Quique Sanches Flores’ men are having a similarly bad run having not win since a 2-1 win at Deportivo at the end of October and they will be desperate for a home win after last weekend’s 3-0 defeat against Madrid.
Getafe looked toothless in attack in that game, albeit against the league leaders, and odds of 21/10 for a draw that will do neither side any good looks the best bet.
The Madrid club at least enjoyed a home win in the cup earlier this month against Almeria and they are 19/10 to end their winless run.