Soccer Picks: Villarreal vs. Real Madrid Betting Odds Preview

Richard O'Hagan

Monday, September 9, 2013 6:33 PM GMT

Gareth Bale starts his Primera Liga career with a trip to newly promoted Villarreal. It isn’t a trip likely to worry his new club too much.


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So brightly do the big stars of the Primera Liga glow, it is sometimes easy for the real stories to be completely blotted out, the newsmakers blinded by the likes of Real and Barca. This is exactly what has happened in the case of Villarreal.

Last season, they were a second division side. They finished second, despite only winning half of their 42 matches. No one was really expecting them to set La Liga on fire, and yet they have exactly the same record as Real going into this game - played three, won three.

Despite this, all of the attention has been focussed on the likes of Real – in fact, particularly Real, who not only broke the world record to sign Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspurs, but who ended up having to sell players at the last minute to avoid ending up over the 26 first team players that La Liga allows each side to carry. That, of course, meant that they had to lose German international midfielder Mehmet Ozil to Arsenal and with Bale by no means certain to start in this game and not exactly a like for like replacement either, it will be interesting to see whether the absence of the German unbalances that Real midfield or not.

At this stage of the season, the two sides have a record that is even more comparable than that. They’ve scored an average of two goals per game, conceded an average of about one and have each beaten one of the bigger names in La Liga and two of the lesser ones.

The problem is, of course, that this reveals just how little you can prove with statistics sometimes. Villarreal have beaten no-one of the quality of Real yet and it is hard to see how they get past a Real side that has really not faced a test in this league yet. At a best price of 8/15 with William Hill it is going to be hard to make your fortune supporting the visitors, whilst Villarreal are almost exclusively at 5/1 in the soccer betting markets, a long price for a host side which reflects the genuine disparity in talent on display.

With this in mind, the issue becomes where to make money on this game. The obvious place to look is the half time/full time market. Here, again, the best option looks to be a 4/1 on the match at William Hill, being drawn at the interval before Real take the game in the second half. That is usually the best option where you have a very much stronger side playing away from home. Pride, if nothing else, keeps the host club hanging in there for 45 minutes before quality begins to tell.

Another option is the first goalscorer option. This is usually particularly helpful in Real games, because the market’s love of Cristiano Ronaldo usually skews things so that odds on anyone other than him are uncommonly long. If anything, that effect has been doubled for this game by the presence of Bale. Ronaldo is best priced at 5/2 with Bet365, whilst Bale, despite not having played a full game yet this season, is at 5/1 in the same market. That pushes the prices of someone like Luka Modric out to 12/1, far longer than you might otherwise expect them to be. This then leads to an opportunity for careful strategic sports betting on more than one candidate, secure in the knowledge that you can make good money on whoever wins, even if you lose a little stake money on your other bets.

[gameodds]17/243859/?r3=349-43-192-19-999997-118-238-227/dec&r-1=349-43-192/us[/gameodds]

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