La Liga Soccer Picks: Malaga vs. Espanyol

Nikki Adams

Thursday, February 12, 2015 2:18 PM GMT

Malaga and Espanyol collide in week 23 La Liga betting, both looking to get back on the winning track. The soccer odds favour the hosts decidedly to clinch the home win. Do the bookies have it right?

Malaga Home Faves
Malaga are currently seventh in La Liga behind a 10-5-7 mark and 35 points. They are six points adrift of Villarreal, the closest team/rival for a possible European spot in the coming season. There's everything to play for yet, but the Anchovies have to be slightly concerned about a recent dip in La Liga form.

Malaga are coming off a rather costly 4-1 loss to regulation threatened Levante on the road, a week 22 La Liga betting game that many soccer bettors believed the Anchovies had a good shot to win. Particularly after they beat fourth-placed Valencia (Levante's loftier city rivals) 1-0 the week prior and looked like they might be finally on the verge of turning things around in the second half of the season.

Bookies sent Malaga into the game as the road faves to win outright, which wasn't surprising given the gap in quality and depth between the two clubs, not to mention Levante's poor form this season and Malaga's solid road form against lesser rivals. Alas, the Anchovies proved a huge disappointment for their backers, failing to get off the mark at the Estadio Ciudad de Valencia. They were too complacent against Levante, a side that not only held them to a scoreless draw at home in September but also very nearly eliminated them from Copa Del Rey (Malaga won 4-3 on aggregate). They should have been more wary of Levante's threat because of those past meetings. Let's not forget also, the desperate fight for top flight survival is in itself a motivator. Clearly, the Anchovies weren't mindful of neither of those qualities and dearly paid for it.

Malaga's latest setback comes after a string of disappointments since the New Year that have seen the Anchovies go 1-2-3 in their last six games in Spain's top flight. It puts into question the soccer betting outlook for their upcoming fixture with Espanyol. On one hand, a home date does provide a good opportunity for Malaga to get back on track. They have a strong home record (6-3-2), which underscores their favourable +100 soccer odds. But Espanyol aren't going to be pushovers. Any complacency, Espanyol won't be loathe to take advantage, which makes them a tempting soccer pick at +300 soccer odds.

Check out our Soccer Bettors Guide to UEFA Europa League 

Espanyol Alive in Copa Del Rey
Espanyol are through to the semis of Copa Del Rey. Only Athletic Club stand in their way of a potential date with Barcelona or Villarreal in the highly anticipated final (Money is heavy on Barcelona emerging, obviously).

Espanyol beat Sevilla (quarterfinals) and Valencia (R16) to reach the penultimate round (both wins were secured behind a 3-2 aggregate). On Wednesday, they kick started their semi-final tie with Athletic Club on the road. Although Espanyol fell behind early in the game, they salvaged the tie with a 1-1 draw after gaining an equaliser late in the first half and which gives them the all important away goal.

Looking ahead to the weekend, Espanyol won't have to be immediately concerned about the reverse leg of their tie with Athletic Club. That won't take place until the first week of March, so they have wiggle room. They can refocus their attention to their La Liga bid, which is a pressing concern. They may be ninth in the table but that equates to just a mere seven-point cushion between them and the cut off line, the relegation quagmire.

The schedule is rather fortuitous in the coming weeks with Malaga this weekend, followed by Getafe (14th) and Cordoba (19th) in the ensuing weeks. Espanyol will hope to take maximum points from all these games in order to put distance between them and the drop off point and, in turn, give themselves the best opportunity for Atheltic Club's visit on March 4th for Copa Del Rey action. If there's one thing that goes against Espanyol is their inconsistent form (they are 2-0-3 in their last five games) and their abysmal road record that stands at 1-2-7 on the season. That's why they are priced as the long shots at +300 to win outright in Malaga.

 

Soccer Betting Verdict
Malaga are the favourites going into this game, but recent form is a slight cause for concern with a 1-2-2 record in their last five games. Espanyol are riding the momentum of Copa Del Rey success, but recent form is hardly convincing with a 2-0-3 record in their last five. Not to mention, their woeful road record that stands at 1-2-7 and features 10 goals scored and 23 conceded.  Neither side has a strong enough edge to tip the balance either way, which means this game could go either way. For our money, we're backing the hosts for the home win as our  soccer pick for this fixture.

Soccer Picks: Malaga to win outright at +100

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