Soccer Picks: Athletic Bilbao vs. Levante in La Liga Action

Nila Amerova

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 8:37 PM GMT

Spain’s Primera Liga enters match day 13 at the weekend with a full card on the books for soccer bettors to spot. Join us as we breakdown the clash between Athletic Bilbao and Levante, slated for Saturday.

Betting on the winner

Some very interesting soccer odds have gone to press on the clash between Athletic Bilbao and Levante but before we get to those let’s get to the nitty-gritty, an individual look at each side after which we’ll deliver our free soccer picks.

Athletic Bilbao hot favourites? Levante huge underdogs?

Athletic Bilbao currently hold an enviable fifth position in Spain’s top-flight table, in pole position in the race for fourth place. They are three points adrift of Villarreal following a 6-2-4 mark in 12 laps around the league. However, it’s a tenuous hold that is in danger of slipping alongside a perceptible dip in form over the last couple of weeks and in the face of growing pressure from below, in-form teams eyeing loftier heights that are applying the pressure as they steadily march up the table. The nearest threat comes from Getafe, who are nipping at their heels a point adrift. But growing rumblings further down the table from seventh placed Real Sociedad and (to a lesser extent) eighth placed Levante as they pick up the pace arguably poses the greatest threat. 

Athletic Bilbao recently dropped points on a 2-2 draw at home to mid-table Elche and on a 2-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid on the road. Now with a date against eighth placed Levante looming on the horizon, a side that is one of several sides notionally in great position to usurp Athletic Bilbao from their lofty perch, they can’t afford any missteps.

If Levante had beaten Granada on their last lap around La Liga this could have been a closer battle, between two sides that would have been level on 20 points. As it stands, Levante saw their three-game unbeaten streak snapped on the back of a 1-0 home defeat to Granada, which, in turn, saw them remain on 17 points, six points adrift of Villarreal in fourth. It remains to be seen whether they’ll rue that missed opportunity in the short and long term.

As the soccer betting market currently stands, you wouldn’t get a sense of the importance of this clash towards the standings. Odds makers unanimously favour Athletic Bilbao to runaway winners at firm -200 soccer odds while Levante are being dubbed the serious underdogs at +550 at Bet365.

Why is the market so lopsided? Is this outlook correct?

It’s quite the lopsided market across all sportsbooks. That Athletic Bilbao is so strongly favoured seems to make sense, namely because, despite wobbling recently, they are undefeated at home with a 4-2-0 mark. But upon closer inspection, the only team worthy of note that they’ve beaten was Villarreal. Celta de Vigo, Real Betis and Osasuna are lightweights flirting with the relegation zone right now; that they’ve beaten those clubs doesn’t say a whole lot really.

This leads us to question whether Athletic Bilbao is really that good or are they only as good as their schedule? If it’s the latter, then it follows the last two rounds are a more representative measure of their quality, right. That in turn would suggest odds makers are overrating them with such hefty favourable soccer odds.

In part the defeat at home to Granada (now up from 14 to 11 in the table following week 12) hurt Levante in market estimation as they failed to build on the last home win, a 3-0 victory over Espanyol. But a very important distinction needs pointing out here: that is, Levante’s position in the table is almost exclusively built on road form, where they’ve only suffered one defeat thus far this season – albeit a horrific 7-0 defeat to Barcelona, which they’d sooner rather than later forget.

Levante (4-5-3 overall) are 3-2-1 on the road with wins over Rayo Vallecano, Osasuna and Celta de Vigo and draws against Real Betis and Almeira. Now, all these sides are mired in the nether regions of the table – almost the same list of teams that Athletic Bilbao beat, one might add. However, given that Levante seem to play better on the road than they do at home (less pressure) they could be feeling optimistic about protecting that undefeated record against Athletic Bilbao, if not by winning then at least by forcing a draw, an option for your sports picks that can be found at +310 odds.

In fact, the more you think about it the more appealing that notion becomes, a notion that is encouraged along somewhat by the perceptible dip in form of the hosts and their questionable measure. Put another way: the discrepancy in price between Athletic Bilbao at steep -200 soccer odds and Levante at a huge price of +550 seems unwarranted when very little separates them on paper. Simple maths and deduction, Athletic Bilbao is not worth it. Better soccer picks for your money would be taking a chance on a Levante road win at +550 or going for the draw at +310. For our part, we’re plumping down to the draw.

Soccer Free Picks: Draw +310

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