With La Liga getting underway on Friday, plus loads of Premier League and Championship action to come this weekend, having a bet? Here’s what’s happening:
Live on ITV4 on Friday night, Barcelona get the new La Liga season up and running away to Atletico Bilbao, but bearing in mind Barca’s general dominance in the Spanish top flight, plus the fact that it’s over a decade since Barca failed to win their opening game of the season, it’s easy to see why Ernesto Valverde’s side are the favourites. Barca are 8/11 to beat Bilbao.
That said, Lionel Messi misses the game with an injury, so perhaps this one isn’t as cut and dried as it sounds. New signing Antoine Griezmann is expected to start for the Catalan club – could he score on his debut? Griezmann is 9/5 to score at any time.
Maybe it’s better to focus on Real Madrid this opening weekend. They play Celta Vigo on Saturday, who have lost just once in their last six home games, with one notable scalp during that run a 2-0 win over Barcelona. Vigo are obviously not one of La Liga’s main contenders – they finished 17th last season – but for all that they’re pretty good at home, also beating Atletico Madrid 2-0 this time a year ago.
Perhaps more relevantly, Real Madrid finished the previous season with three losses in four games, and the club appear to be in disarray, with manager Zidane insisting Gareth Bale has no future at the club – only for club chairman Florentino Perez to prevent Bale’s sale, just when a Chinese club had agreed to take the Welshman in a deal that seemed to suit all concerned.
Even with the newly signed Eden Hazard in the team, could Real’s woes from last season continue this week? If you fancy an upset, you can get 4/1 on Celta Vigo to win, or 13/4 on the draw if you want to hedge your bets.
In the interests of full disclosure, it’s five years since Celta have beaten Real; if you’re not convinced that the Madrid side’s recent problems will stop them dominating, consider backing BTTS at 13/25. Nine of the last 11 encounters between these two sides have seen both teams score…
Huddersfield Town host Fulham, both sides looking to enjoy a positive Championship campaign after last season’s Premier League woes. Fulham lost their opener away to Barnsley but beat Blackburn 2-0 at Craven Cottage last week, while Town have one point after a loss to Derby and a draw against QPR – they lost at home to Lincoln in the Carabao Cup earlier this week too.
Under the circumstances, Fulham will be the more confident team going into this one. Indeed, the visitors are the favourites at 5/4 – Huddersfield, who haven’t managed a victory since February, are 21/10.
Much depends on whether Terriers manager Jan Siewert can coax a reaction from his side. Bearing in mind that he made several changes to the team that appeared in the Carabao Cup, and striker Karlan Grant has scored in each of his first two games this season for Huddersfield, perhaps Town are being written off too hastily. In any case, backing Karlan Grant to score anytime at 14/5 might not be a bad shout.
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