Barca and Bilbao battle again, plus Betis return to La Liga
La Liga has resumed, and the superb Spanish top-flight, which is one division that comes close to challenging the Premier League’s status as best in the world, takes centre stage on Sunday night.
Odds-on 8/13 title favourties Barcelona begin their defence of the crown at Supercopa de Espana conquerors Athletic Bilbao, and resurgent Real Betis start life back in the top tier against 6/1 top four finish hopefuls Villarreal.
Barcelona v Athletic Bilbao
It’s seldom the case that you play the same opposition in three consecutive matches, but that it what Barca and Basque boys Bilbao are facing here. Using the Spanish Super Cup result as evidence of any Catalan decline would be wrong, though, as Coral make Luis Enrique’s men odds-on 1/2 favourirtes to win in the San Mames.
Playing weakened sides in games that were technically non-competitive, Barcelona have since sold winger Pedro Rodriguez to Chelsea, but Brazil star Neymar may be back after mumps. If involved, he’s 4/1 to break the deadlock, or grab the last goal after four in four career appearances against Bilbao.
Lionel Messi loves scoring against the Basques with 18 in 24, including three braces. That makes an enhanced matchday special of 7/2 on the Argentina icon netting two goals or more well worth considering. Punters can stake up £20 on this boosted price bet.
Big outsiders at 6/1 for a home win, Bilbao do have some consolations; Gerard Pique is banned, they held a strong Barcelona side to a draw in the second leg of the Super Cup (16/5 to share the spoils again) and striker Aritz Aduriz has five in is last four against them.
That sensational stat is backed up by a brilliant anytime scorer price on Aduriz of 12/5. As Barca have won two of their last three visits to the Basque Country with both teams being on target, a nifty 19/10 price says this shall happen again.
Real Betis v Villarreal
Spanish top-flight meetings since 1999 between these two just gives Seville side Betis a 9-7 head-to-head edge, though a further six fixtures were drawn. Another result were honours are even comes in at 11/5.
Both Pepe Mel’s men, 19/10 to make a winning return to La Liga, and the Yellow Submarine (6/4 favourites for victory) have made some eye-catching signings this summer
Betis’ big arrival is none other than Rafael van der Vaart, and the Dutch centurion once downed Villarreal in Real Madrid colours. He looks likely to miss out, though, so long-serving forward Ruben Castro, who grabbed the Segunda Division Golden Boot while firing his team to promotion, is the one to consider for goals.
Breaking the 30-goal barrier last term, Betis attacker Castro has two in his previous outings against the El Madrigal outfit. Anytime odds of 2/1 are thus well worth taking.
Villarreal have a new-look strikeforce of Leo Baptistao and Roberto Soldado, and the portents are good – for this fixture at least. Brazilian Baptistao is yet to receive clearance, so will not face his former club who he once scored against.
Spurs flop Soldado is looking to rebuild his career after a tumultuous time at Tottenham, and this is the perfect chance for him to start strongly. With four in seven against Betis, an enhanced 5/2 anytime price should be snapped up. Like the above special, punters can pile on a maximum of £20.
Coral’s top tip: A 1-1 score draw here is a fabulous 5/1 price between Betis and Villarreal.