Lays of the Weekend: Post-Christmas wobble time for Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid spent Christmas level with Barcelona in top spot

After two successful New Year's Day odds-on lays, Michael Lintorn targets a favourite-opposing hat-trick this weekend...

"Atletico have won their first La Liga match back just twice in 12 attempts this century, drawing the last three."
Lay Atletico Madrid to win at Malaga @ 1.584/7

Lay Ipswich to beat Preston @ 1.845/6
Though this weekend's lays column is a bit more continentally flavoured to celebrate the end of Italy and Spain's winter break, it would be remiss to dodge the FA Cup entirely. Opposing the sixth-placed Championship club against League One opposition might seem impudent, but the drawing habit that has clawed Ipswich into the play-offs - four ties in five, including two at home to bottom-half sides - could prove their undoing in the cup. Preston are soaring in fourth in the third tier and owe a huge assist to an exemplary away record, winning nine of their last 11, with eight clean sheets. Boss Simon Grayson has previous for third-round upset-inspiring, most notably for Leeds at Old Trafford in 2010.

Lay Atletico Madrid to win at Malaga @ 1.584/7
Atletico Madrid were the most impressive team in Europe in the first half of the campaign, shrugging off the loss of star man Radamel Falcao to win 15 of their first 17 La Liga games with a squad not built to challenge for the title. Their two setbacks both came on the road, at Espanyol and Villarreal, and Saturday's trip to improving Malaga may accommodate a third stumble. The seasiders earned successive 1-0 victories over Getafe and Elche to potentially keep coach Bernd Schuster employed and can find encouragement from Atletico's tendency to return from festive holidays rusty. They have won their first La Liga match back just twice in 12 attempts this century, drawing the last three.

Lay Parma to beat Torino @ 2.1211/10
You must hold out until Monday afternoon to profit from this Serie A lay, but it should be worth the wait. Parma are concocting a solid season from the fuel of a revitalised Antonio Cassano and World Cup-thirsty Marco Parolo. However, they have only triumphed in three of nine home league games - all against bottom-eight sides in dreary form - and headed into Christmas on a four-match drawing spree. Torino by contrast have hit heights that they haven't sampled for years, springing to seventh after three straight wins. They are unbeaten in five, losing two of their last seven on their travels, as the masterful Ciro Immobile and Alessio Cerci strike partnership allows them to dream of Europe.

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