La Liga Betting: Valencia can make life tough for shell-shocked Barcelona

Simone Zaza and Samuel Umtiti
Valencia will be no pushovers at the Camp Nou
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Jack Lang previews the weekend's Spanish games, all of which are available on Betfair Live Video...

"Los Che come into this game in fine fettle: they've won eight of their last nine, tightening their grip on third place and beginning to exert a bit of pressure on second-placed Atlético Madrid"

Can Barça bounce back?

Barcelona v Valencia
Saturday, 15:15
Live on Betfair Live Video

A season doesn't take long to unravel, as Barcelona discovered the hard way in Rome this week. The Champions League had become priority number one for the Catalans, with La Liga seemingly sewn up, but all Ernesto Valverde's plans came tumbling down in 90 madcap minutes at the Stadio Olimpico.

The post-mortem will go on for some time yet, and while Valverde himself has insisted it's business as usual this weekend ("We can't stay at home crying because we lost one game"), big questions are being asked of his stewardship - and of the team's direction of travel. It's always risky to read too much into one match, but this was such a limp performance that it did beg those bigger questions.

Saturday's match against Valencia could at least provide some temporary solace, with Barça now just one away from a Spanish league record for games unbeaten (39). Los Che, of course, will have other ideas and come into this game in fine fettle: they've won eight of their last nine, tightening their grip on third place and beginning to exert a bit of pressure on second-placed Atlético Madrid.

They've also won two of their last four visits to the Camp Nou, but the best bet here looks like under 2.5 goals. Both of these sides are well capable of scoring goals, but have grown less explosive as the season has worn on: 13 of Barcelona's last 21 games have gone under the 2.5-goal line, as have 8 of Valencia's last 12, and all three of their previous meetings this term (one in the league, two in the Copa del Rey).

It's not a banker, but with Valencia increasingly frugal in defence - four clean sheets in five - this could be a tighter game than many expect. And a price of [2.94] is nice enough to take on.

La Real in confident mood

Las Palmas v Real Sociedad
Saturday, 17:30
Live on Betfair Live Video

Las Palmas' relegation was pretty much confirmed last weekend, when they lost to 17th-placed Levante. There are now fully 10 points between the Canary Islanders and safety, which would be a major stretch even if they were in something approaching reasonable form. They're not, and so the next seven games will be a miserable trudge towards the trapdoor.

Paco Jémez's side have faced a horrible run of home games, with Sevilla, Barcelona, Villarreal and Real Madrid the last four teams to come to town. And while Real Sociedad are not quite in that bracket - the Basques have had a fairly underwhelming season - they will have their tails up after perhaps their best display of the season a week ago.

La Real were borderline unplayable against Girona, Sergio Canales and Mikel Oyarzabal slicing through the Catalans' defence time and again, and they will be licking their lips at the prospect of facing the league's joint-worst defence. The fact Las Palmas are missing starting centre-back Alejandro Gálvez (suspended) will only give them extra encouragement, and 5/4 on the away side to win a game featuring two or more goals looks like value.

Madrid can react in Málaga

Málaga v Real Madrid
Sunday, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports Football and Betfair Live Video

It's back to the domestic grindstone for Real Madrid, whose nerves will still be frayed after that ludicrous game against Juventus at the Bernabéu. They got the job done in the end, but their listless display will have eroded much of the feeling of superiority that came with their success over Paris Saint-Germain; it should now be clear that they cannot afford another night off like that if they are to win the Champions League again.

Málaga are welcome opponents this weekend: Los Boquerones are already planning for life in segunda, the season having slipped through their fingers long ago. They have a poor record against Madrid - one win in the last 33 league meetings - and were turned over a hitherto toothless Deportivo La Coruña side last time out. With Luis Hernández serving a ban, José González will have to make changes at the back, too.

Zinedine Zidane's rotation can make it tough to predict Madrid games with any great confidence, but with a short gap in the schedule after the midweek visit of Athletic Club and before their first semi-final against Bayern Munich, widespread changes probably aren't likely here. With that in mind, we should probably expect a reaction after Wednesday, with Madrid/Madrid the pick in the Half Time/Full Time market. That bet would have landed in five of Real's last six away matches (all competitions).

Jack Lang's La Liga P/L, 2017/18

Staked: 112pts
Returned: 113.98pts
P/L: +1.98pts

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