Two teams with exciting new European
prospects must park their cup dreams and concentrate on the league when Real
Madrid host Valencia in Spain's top flight this weekend. Can Valencia do
Barcelona a favour?
The Spanish press is awash with talk of the
Champions League (with Real being 4/9 to reach the final) and Europa League
(Valencia are 5/6 to reach the final and 5/2 to actually win it). But they both
need to refocus, for two very different reasons back in La Liga on when they
meet on Sunday.
With just eight games left in the Spanish top flight Real
Madrid will be looking to close in on yet another title (and are 2/7 with the
sportsbooks to do it). Los Blancos are just eight points clear of Barcelona,
their closest rivals (who are 10/3 to win the league), and with 24 points to
play for, the league is far from a
foregone conclusion so they’ll be expecting another tidy three points off third
place Valencia, and the bookies reckon they’ll do it, Madrid are 1/5 favourites
in the soccer odds for this match.
Spain being Spain, after the top two teams
there is a significant drop-off to third place, so although Valencia are only
two league places behind Real Madrid the more significant fact is that they are
30 points behind the league leaders (and are 4/6 to finish the season in third
place). While Real Madrid will be keen to keep a buffer between them and
Barcelona, Valencia have issues of their own. Los Che are just nine points
ahead of 10th place Getafe and are heading a pack of seven teams who have all
scored more than 40 point. They could do with an easier opponent than Madrid at
this stage of the season especially as Valencia have been in stuttering form of
late, recording two wins in their last eight matches, although half of their
remaining six were drawn.
cups runeth over
With league success a mathematical
impossibility Valencia will look to the Europa League for the chance of
silverware. They head into the semi-finals of the competition for the first
time since 2004 (the year they last won the trophy) a fact that will benefit
Madrid in their league clash.
Real Madrid and their special coach, Jose
Mourinho, are bordering on the blasé ahead of their Champions league semi-final
after their 5-2 win over APOEL at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday and Mourinho
has too much experience to let cup possibilities distract from League
commitments. Real Madrid are indeed on scintillating form of late they've won
four games on the bounce, scoring five goals in three of them and conceding
just five goals overall in their last five games.
Valencia may look on their last victory (a
4-0 victory over AZ Alkmaar that puts them in the semi-finals) with pride, but
the fact of the matter is in their last five games they’ve played, they had one
victory, one draw and three defeats in all competitions, clocking up eight
goals and conceding the same amount. While equal goals scored / conceded is
hardly the end of the world, if you ignore their latest Europa League victory
the stats would look considerably different, with eight goals conceded and only
It seems very much that with this game the
question is not who will win but how much Real Madrid win by.
In the last five head-to-head meetings
between these two clubs (all in La Liga and running back to December 2009) it's
all about Madrid with five clear victories. This time the visitors are 12/1 to
leave with all three points (and 6/1 to manage a draw).
A closer look at the soccer betting stats makes even less
welcome reading for Valencia as the last two times Madrid have hosted this
fixture they comfortably shutout Valencia and won by two clear goals. 2-0 this
time around is available at 7/1. At home Valencia do slightly better have
against Real Madrid although they still tend to lose, and two of the last three
meetings between the clubs at Valencia have ended 3-2 and that score is
available at 20/1.
game of two halves
Don't bet on a manic Sunday result in
this match as everything points to a home victory, but if you want to try and
cheer in some extra money invest heavily in Madrid winning both halves; which is
available at 8/15 or if you're feeling brave throw in a few pounds on Valencia
leading at the break but Madrid taking the game on 90 mins which is available at
22/1. If you're feeling downright simple back Valencia to
win both halves at 26/1.
A smarter investor will spread their soccer picks across several scores in Madrid's favour. I’m expecting to see plenty of money
on 3-0, 4-0 and 5-0 at 15/2, 11/1 and 18/1 respectively. But my money knows
that Madrid have conceded goals in their last three league outings and Valencia
have scored in each of their last four games so I’ll be having cash on 3-1, 4-1 and 5-1 at 9/1, 12/1 and 18/1.
Prediction: 4-1 to Madrid