La Liga Betting: No light at the end of the tunnel for injury-hit Real Madrid

Santiago Solari of Real Madrid
Santiago Solari's days are numbered in Madrid
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Jack Lang previews the weekend's Spanish games, all of which are available on Betfair Live Video...

"Santiago Solari is a dead man walking, with speculation mounting over his replacement. The early signs are that Madrid will go back to the future, with José Mourinho and Zinedine Zidane both mentioned in dispatches"

Alavés can reign in Basque Country

Alavés v Eibar
Saturday, 12:00
Live on Eleven Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video

Why, exactly, are 10th-placed Eibar rated as favourites away to fifth-placed Alavés? It's the mystery of the weekend, and we're more than happy to side with the hosts, albeit more on principle than out of any great feeling about how this game will pan out.

Both of these Basque sides continue to punch above their weight, but its the hosts who are the real story this term: they're battling for a Champions League spot, which would be a remarkable achievement given their resources. Abelardo has done a stellar job since taking the reins last term, helping turn Mendizorroza into something of a fortress: Alavés have won 14 and lost just four of their 24 home league games under the current management.

Eibar are a plucky team in decent form (just two defeats in 12 league games), but most of those have been draws, and we're happy to back the hosts with the stalemate taken out of the equation at [2.11].

Rayo may not be blown away

Barcelona v Rayo Vallecano
Saturday, 17:30
Live on Eleven Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video

Things change quickly in football. At the start of February, Rayo Vallecano looked well on course to securing their top-flight status, claiming 13 points from 15 either side of the new year. One month and five straight defeats later, things aren't looking quite so positive: they're back in 19th, with Huesca coming up fast behind them.

They can consider themselves a touch unfortunate: four of those defeats were by a single goal, and they pushed Atlético Madrid all the way at Vallecas. But the league table allows for no asterisks, and they will need to develop a more ruthless streak if they are to clamber out of the dropzone.

It's unlikely they'll enjoy this weekend. Rayo have lost their last 12 league matches against Barcelona, and the margin of defeat has frequently been hefty. They will cross fingers for some rotation, with Barça playing Lyon in the Champions League in midweek, but Ernesto Valverde isn't usually one to leave key players out, and will be keen to put the league to bed as soon as possible and focus on Europe in the months ahead.

There's no great value in the outrights, but we can craft a decent bet using the Same Game Multi tool on the Sportsbook. We'll take Barcelona to win, Lionel Messi to score (he has seven of the Blaugrana's last nine league goals) and Rayo to keep the score vaguely respectable, with a 2.5-goal headstart. Barça have only passed that handicap once in their last 10 league outings, and we're essentially backing them to win by a margin of one or two goals, with Messi finding the net.

Messi finger 1280.JPG

Getafe to maintain momentum

Getafe v Huesca
Saturday, 19:45
Live on Eleven Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video

Huesca appeared to be dead and buried at the bottom of the table at the turn of the year, but things have improved markedly since: the minnows have taken 14 points from the last 27 available, meaning they go into Jornada 27 within touching distance of safety. Having claimed the scalp of Sevilla last week, confidence will be flowing through the squad, and their remaining fixtures look relatively manageable. They could actually do this, you know.

There will be bumps in the road, however, and we expect their survival push to be temporarily halted this weekend. Getafe have been favourites of this column all season, and for good reason: José Bordalás' charges always seem underrated by the market, with layers seemingly blind to their low-key excellence. If you're new to these parts, Los Azulones sit fourth and have lost six league games all season.

Getafe have been ruthless at the Coliseum recently, winning eight of their last nine home games (all competitions), and while Huesca are a much improved outfit, they have still found the going pretty tough on the road (W2 D3 L8). The visitors are also without starting centre-back Jorge Pulido, who is suspended. The price on the Getafe win is [1.68] - not huge, but big enough.

Goals at a premium on Sunday night

Real Valladolid v Real Madrid
Sunday, 19:45
Live on Eleven Sports 1 and Betfair Live Video

It's Misery O'Clock again at the Bernabéu. Out of the Copa del Rey, out of the title race and now out of the Champions League after that midweek blowout against Ajax, Los Blancos face six months without any meaningful games - a disastrous situation at any time, but all the more galling given how recently they were dominating Europe.

Santiago Solari is a dead man walking, with speculation mounting over his replacement. The early signs are that Madrid will go back to the future, with José Mourinho and Zinedine Zidane both mentioned in dispatches. But whoever gets the gig, huge changes will be needed: this squad has withered on the vine and must be renewed.

There's no let-up in the short term for Solari, who is without Sergio Ramos (suspended), Gareth Bale, Vinícius Júnior, Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vázquez (all injured) this weekend. It'll be a case of selecting anyone fit and hoping for the best, with the only positive the fact that their opponents are also struggling.

Real Valladolid have taken just one point from their last five games, and are slipping back towards the bottom three. Their main issue has been goalscoring: no player has netted more than three times in the league, and they have the division's least potent attack by some distance. That puts a lot of pressure on the defence, which is solid enough but can't be expected to perform miracles every week.

Valladolid usually try to keep things tight at home: nine of 12 games have gone below the 2.5-goal mark. With Madrid low on confidence and without key creative players, we're happy to take on the unders.

Jack Lang's La Liga P/L, 2018/19

Staked: 78pts
Returned: 77.18pts
P/L: -0.82pts

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