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La Liga: Barcelona meet Malaga, Real Madrid battle Betis

La Liga matchweek two commences with giants Real Madrid already needing to make up lost ground in their expected title race with Barcelona, after dropping two points away to Sporting Gijon in their opener.

Here, Coral experts bring you the betting highlights from Spain’s top tier, as champions Barca host Malaga and Los Blancos welcome Real Betis to the Bernabeu…

Barcelona v Malaga
Soccer - La Liga - Malaga v Deportivo La Coruna - La Rosaleda Stadium
It is no surprise that the Catalan kings, odds-on 1/11 favourites, hold the head-to-head record here, with a daunting 21 wins to three.

Yet, such an overview does not take into account how Malaga proved to be a significant stumbling block for Barca last campaign, taking three points from the treble winners in their own backyard and also holding them to a draw on home turf.

So, punters can plump for the Anchovies, who split the spoils with Sevilla in their first outing, at 8/1 to end on even terms again, or a wildcard 45/1 for a repeat of last season’s shock victory on Catalan soil.

The Andalusians can offer wily wideman Nordin Amrabat (9/2 to hit home anytime) and Brazilian striker Charles in attack (4/1), but are crucially missing Juanmi, now with Southampton, who notched their last Nou Camp winner.

It is unlikely Malaga will keep a third consecutive clean sheet against Barca, who have arguably the most formidable collection of forwards in world football. Inspirational Lionel Messi has 12 goals in 15 games against the Anchovies, so is 5/2 to draw first blood, or a tempting 2/1 to strike two or more blows. Potent partners Luis Suarez and Neymar can also be backed at 16/5 and 7/2 to notch first and last respectively.

Real Madrid v Real Betis
Soccer - International Champions Cup - Manchester City v Real Madrid - Melbourne Cricket Ground
Los Blancos may have struggled to break down Sporting Gijon on new boss Rafa Benitez’s Bernabeu bow, but normal service should be resumed here against Betis.

Madrid (odds-on 1/7 favourites) have smashed seven past the Big Greens over their last two dust-ups, so back Cristiano Ronaldo and co at 3/1 to fire in five or more.

Speaking of the unstoppable Portuguese, Ronaldo never goes long without a goal and is 12/5 to fire in the opener and lead from the front. Supporting artists Gareth Bale (5/1 to bag a brace or better) and James Rodriguez (9/2 to have the final say) will also be jostling to be first on the scoresheet for Los Blancos this season.

Betis scoring shouts include Spanish striker Ruben Castro, who helped his side to a point against Villarreal, and is 10/3 to be on target again anytime, while summer signing Rafael van der Vaart is 9/2 in the same market to notch against his former club.

Betting tip: Back goal machine Messi at 5/2 to get proceedings underway