Soccer Picks Athletic Bilbao vs. Real Madrid

Richard O'Hagan

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 7:51 PM UTC

Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 7:51 PM UTC

The clash of the weekend in La Liga sees fourth placed Bilbao take on the star-studded Real Madrid. Despite being so close in the standings, the soccer odds show some distance between the two teams.

Athletic Bilbao

On the face of it, this is a match between the third and fourth placed sides in La Liga. Don’t let those bald facts fool you, though, because there is a very real gulf between these two teams. Just a closer look at the league table will tell you that there are actually eleven points between the two of them. Bilbao have won four fewer games and lost three more. Real Madrid have only lost twice all season and not at all in their last 10 games. There’s that big of a gap.

In Bilbao’s favour is the fact that they are unbeaten at home in La Liga this season, a run which includes a 1-0 victory over Barcelona at the start of last month. That was a fairly typical Bilbao result under coach Ernesto Valverde – give nothing away, defend in numbers and worry more about winning than entertaining. It was also a win without leading scorer Ibai, who was on the bench until the final two minutes – although the fact that the leading scorer has only found the net seven times this season shows you that Valverde’s focus is more on not conceding goals than scoring them.

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Real Madrid

Real, by contrast, have one of the best goalscoring records in La Liga, averaging almost three per game whilst conceding only one. World record signing Gareth Bale should be fit again for Carlo Ancelotti’s team, after coming off injured in last weekend’s win over Granada and the team has no other short term injury worries.

The game between these two earlier this season finished in a 3-1 win to Real and they are odds on for victory again, best priced at 1.67 soccer odds with Coral and William Hill. That Bilbao home record is a good one, though, and the draw at 4.33 with Ladbrokes therefore looks to be much better value. In the same place you can get 8.5 on the game being drawn at both half time and full time, and 17.0 on a draw after Real have been ahead at the half. Bilbao are a side who do most of their scoring in the second half, so both of those options are definitely worth considering in your soccer picks for this weekend's action.

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