La Liga Preview: The Flea bites Athletic - probably twice

A hat-trick this weekend and 2012 will be a record-equalling year for Leo Messi
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Not only is it the Madrid derby this weekend, there are four other televised games from Spain. Tobias Gourlay rounds them up

"Messi has scored braces or better in 7/10 appearances in all competitions and in 17/28 Liga games"

Back Leo Messi To Score 2 Goals or More at [2.2]

Barcelona v Athletic Bilbao
Saturday 19:00
(Live on Sky Sports 1)
Barcelona [1.11] Athletic [34.0] draw [13.5]

Barcelona have won eight in a row at home to Athletic Bilbao, who also have a terrible record visiting Real Madrid. The Basques went down 5-1 at the Bernabeu a couple of weeks ago and a defeat of similar proportions is quite plausible this weekend.

Recent history is against the visitors too: Barca have won 18 in a row at home to teams that aren't Real Madrid; Athletic have lost 4/6 on the road this season, leaking goals at a rate of three a game. This time they could be without Andoni Iraola, vice-captain and rather useful right-back.

Barca are odds-against to score four or more, despite doing exactly that in four of their last six Liga games.

Messi: he's scored braces or better in 7/10 appearances in all competitions and in 17/28 Liga games. The Argentinian has scored 82 goals in 2012 and is chasing Gerd Muller's record (85). You'll still get odds-against about the Flea moving a couple of goals closer on Saturday, and perhaps equalling Der Bomber.

Recommended Bet
Back Leo Messi To Score 2 Goals or More at [2.2]

Celta Vigo v Levante
Sunday 18:00
(Live on Sky Sports 1)
Celta [2.04] Levante [4.0] draw [3.65]

Rare TV appearances for these two, but they are unlikely to win many new fans.

Obafemi Martins has fired Levante up to sixth in the table. Eighty per cent of his goals have come at home, however, and the Frogs are unbeaten in three on the road thanks to a run of clean sheets.

Celta Vigo are on their best home streak in seven years (W3-D2-L0) and, again, their success is rooted in strong defence. Paco Herrera's Sky Blues have conceded four times in six outings at Balaidos and five of those games have stayed Under 2.5 Goals. Four of Levante's six road trips have been similarly light on entertainment.

Iago Aspas is the primary threat to a bet on low goals. He's scored six already this season and, Opta reports, been involved in more than half of all Celta's goals.

Another bet to consider: the 0-0 half-time score at [3.1]. Celta have scored one first-half goal at home; Levante have been equally unprolific away from home.

Recommended Bet
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ [1.85]

Mallorca v Zaragoza
Sunday 20:00
(Live on Sky Sports 1)
Mallorca [2.1] Zaragoza [3.85] draw [3.6]

It's hard to gauge the form of these two. Mallorca's last two home games have been against Barcelona and Real Madrid. Zaragoza's most recent away trips have been to the same pair.

Zaragoza haven't drawn a game all season, while Mallorca have won three and lost three at Son Moix, so you could lay the draw, but that might be a little simplistic.

Mallorca have won 6/8 home matches against bottom-half teams and six in a row at home to Zaragoza, while Manolo Jimenez's visitors have lost 10/17 on the road. Perhaps there's a touch of value about the hosts at [2.1].

Recommended Bet
Back Mallorca @ [2.1]

Sevilla v Valladolid
Monday 20:30
(Live on Sky Sports Xtra)
Sevilla [1.81] Valladolid [5.4] draw [3.9]

There have been three goals or more in 8/11 of Sevilla's most recent home matches and in 3/6 of Valladolid's away games. Over 2.5 Goals looks a bet at [1.9] but do bear in mind that Alvaro Negredo is out injured.

Sevilla tend to miss the Beast of Vallecas, who pulled his hamstring in the derby win over Betis a couple of weeks ago. Since his debut, the Red and Whites are W2-D4-L5 when he's been missing. His likely replacement, Baba, is yet to score this season.

With a record of only two wins from Valladolid's last nine visits to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, the odds-on Andalusians are a small lay.

Recommended Bet
Lay Sevilla @ [1.81]

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