Watch: Graham Hunter’s backing the top three in an 18/1 La Liga treble

Gary Neville is going to win at some stage. But I’ve almost been the kiss of death for him recently, so I’m avoiding Valencia totally this week after their humiliation. Instead, I’ve looked through the odds and picked out a nice 4/1 double involving Real and Barcelona.

Granada vs Real Madrid

Ronaldo celebrates

Granada have beaten both Real and Barcelona at home over the last few seasons. They did win their last game as well against Sevilla thanks to a goal from the brilliantly named Isaac Success.

Real are starting to flex their muscles at the top though. A minor slip up against Valencia should be put right on Sunday. Back a Real win with both teams to score. Success is to score again, maybe look at Modric for Los Blancos

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Levante vs Barcelona

Lionel Messi

Zinedine Zidane will be hoping for a slip up by Luis Enrique’s side, but I don’t think it’ll happen.

Barca have hit top form, and destroyed Valencia during the week. Even when 7 goals up, they still went forward with quick and fast attacks, looking for more.
Could Guiseppe Rossi debut in the best way possible? Maybe. He’s to score anytime for Levante. I think the bet to take is over 2.5 goals and a Barcelona victory. They’ve got the lead at the top now and they very rarely relinquish them.

Atletico Madrid vs Eibar

Vicente Caldreon

Eibar have been the surprise package in La Liga this season. You could fit the entire population of the city inside the Calderon and have space. Their ground only holds 7,00 people, and somehow they sit 8th in the table. They go to Atleti this week ont he back of three straight wins, scoring 11 goals in the process. Borja Baston got four of those and is Eibar’s top scorer.

One problem. He’s on loan from Atleti, meaning that Eibar will have to stump up cash if they want him to play against his parent club, who are missing a whole host of players. If he plays he scores. But back Atleti to win by one goal at

 


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Watch: Graham Hunter has a La Liga treble that could help fund your February

There’s only one game on everyone’s lips this weekend in Spain as the top two go head to head at the Camp Nou. At the bottom Las Palmas and Levante will both leap out of the relegation zone with victories over Celta Vigo and Sevilla respectively. Elsewhere Gary Neville STILL needs his first La Liga win

Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid

People have been looking forward to this clash for weeks, simply because we’ll know on Sunday whether Atleti will have the quality to keep pace at the top as they try to wrestle back the La Liga title off of Barcelona. Their record against the Catalonians is not good however, just one win in 14 attempts and no goal for Antoine Griezmann in five appearances against Barca. They’ve only conceded three goals away from home all year however. But I don’t think they’ll have enough. Back Suarez to score at and a home win at

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Valencia vs Sporting Gijon

I know I’ve tipped Gary Neville to get his first La Liga win the last couple of times, but I’m certain that this week it’s happening. Sporting are second to last, they’ve lost eight of their eleven away games. But after losing 5-1 to Real two weeks ago, they came out and destroyed Sociedad by the same scoreline. My tip is to back the in play. If Valencia score first, they’ll win at. If they don’t back the score draw. Gijon’s best hope for a goal is Sanabria at to open the scoring

Real Madrid vs Espanyol

Cristiano Ronaldo

Espanyol actually have a decent record in the Bernebau. Despite losing heavily on many an occasion, they’ve been able to grab a draw against the Galacticos twice over the last four seasons. But they haven’t won in almost a decade, and were beaten 6-0 at home by Real earlier in the season. Zidane’s Madrid have been scoring for fun, and the handicap of Real -3 is too good not to take on this occasion, especially when you take into account the extent of Espanyol’s injuries. They’re missing six first team players.

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WATCH: Back Suarez maul through the Boquerones in 4/1 double says Graham Hunter

Don’t get caught like a wet fish, get onto Suarez to break a surprising Barca duck against the Anchovies in one of the tightest title tussles in recent memory.

Malaga vs Barcelona

This is important for Barcelona. They’re wo points off top, with Real within a victory of over taking them, and even Villarreal closing in in fourth place. With a fixture against league leaders Atleti coming next weekend, this is must-win for the Catalonians. But they’ve had it tough against Malaga in the past. Worryingly, relegation threatened Granada have more goals away from home than Barcelona, while Malaga have the best home defence in Spain. Missing Gerard Pique will give the current Malaga squad a chance of scoring their first goal against Barca at home in eight years. Their best hope is Roque Santa Cruz, but maybe throw a peso on Charles as well. But I think Suarez will do the damage in the second half at.

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Atletico Madrid vs Sevilla

Atleti won’t want to show any cracks and drop points at home to Sevilla. But the away side have only lost once in their last eight, and already have victories over Real and Barcelona this season. They’ll be gunning for revenge after the leaders beat them 3-0 in their own backyard. Diego Simone is unbeaten in fixtures against them though, and has a striker desperate to break the 100-goal mark in La Liga in Fernando Torres. El Nino’s last goal in May of 2015 took him to 99, and he’s to score anytime against Sevilla. If you’re smart though, you’ll back Griezmann at.  I don’t think Atleti will lose, but a draw at is tempting. If you think there’s an upset, take Gameiro anytime at

Real Betis vs Real Madrid

This one is a little bit dodgy, because we don’t know who’ll be on the pitch, and who’ll be on the sidelines. Betis are close to securing Juande Ramos as their new manager, and he could make his return against he team he was in charge of in a trophyless 2008-9 season. Gareth Bale is missing with another calf injury, and Karim Benzema is facing a late fitness test. Whether Cristano could steer his side past a sinking Betis is questionable. If Benzema plays, Madrid will win so a wincast isn’t the worst bet. But wait for news before splashing the cash.

Deportivo La Coruna vs Valencia

Gary Neville is fast learning the difference between punditry and management. He still hasn’t got a league win while in charge of Valencia. And against a side who have only lost two of their last eight games at home, I struggle to see how he can get one this weekend. I would be backing a score draw though at .Both teams have scored in over half of Valencia’s matches, and 60% of Deportivo’s.

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WATCH: Graham Hunter is backing Barca and Bale in 3/1 La Liga double

Even though there’s been no English channels in Spain, I’m still backing the BBC to do the business for Real, and Gary Neville to pick up his first La Liga win

 

Barcelona vs Atletic Bilbao

This is looking quite an easy one on paper to predict. Barcelona will win. The 5-1 aggregate win at the start of August for Bilbao will give them hope, but the two sides have both changed incredibly since then. Just two wins since the start of December for Bilbao, compared to Barca who have only drawn twice since then, the rest victories. Bilbao are missing Aduriz and Raul Garcia so the pressure will be on Inaki Williams to score anytime at . But overall, a Barca win at

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Real Madrid vs Sporting Gijon

Gareth Bale

Gijon did win in the Bernebau a couple of seasons ago, but there is no chance there will be a repeat of that. Sporting have to be careful as they could slip to the bottom of the table,maybe go all out defensive. But it still won’t be enough. Madrid are chasing down the top spot. Bale, Ronaldo and Benzema should ease them through a weak Gijon defense. The handicap of Madrid -3 could be worth a punt at, as is Gareth Bale first to score at

  • Madrid have won their last four afternoon kick offs
  • Gijon’s win in 2011 was their only one in the last seven years against Madrid

Valencia vs Rayo Vallecano

Gary Neville still needs his first win. And he’s going to get it here. Vallecano will put up a fight, but expect the home side to come out on top. I’m expecting there to be plenty of goals, maybe back over 3.5 goals . In terms of goalscorers, Negredo against his home town club at is value. Valencia to win at

  • This fixture in the Copa Del Rey last year ended 4-4
  • Vallecano have only won twice against Valencia since 2013

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WATCH: Graham Hunter says Bienvenue Zizou by tipping a 4/1 Real Madrid bet

It’s been a bit of a strange week in Spain. We had the sacking of Rafa Benitez (after winning 10-2), a fiery derby between Barcelona and Espanyol, and Gary Neville’s second win as boss of Valencia.

Real Madrid vs Deportivo

The legendary player returning to take charge of a club he was famous at. Madrid love scoring at home to Depor, so I’m saying a Real win , Bale and Ronaldo to continue their form with goals apiece. You never know with Depor. Lucas Perez is their key, if he shows up, he’ll score at anytime and Depor might shut down Zidane’s party.

  • Deportivo are averaging one point per game away from home, the same as their opponents;
  • Cristiano Ronaldo has contributed to nearly 70% of Madrid’s goals so far this season;

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Real Sociedad vs Valencia

Gary Neville might have two wins under his belt, but neither of those have been in the league. He could pick it up this week at Sociedad. The ‘Royals’ are missing their star player Imanol Agirretxe for this game, and they haven’t been able to pick up the goalscoring slack. A score draw is likely, but maybe a Valencia win at

Barcelona vs Granada

The champions came out on top of that derby against Espanyol, and they will easily do so against Granada this weekend. Any of the three magistas up front should score, but Neymar will open the scoring at . For the opposition, Penaranda is the best bet to get a consolation at anytime. Barca hold a game in hand over the leaders Atleti, and a routine home win is what’s happening here

  • Barca can go top if Atleti drop points away to Celta;
  • Both teams have scored in 67% of Granada’s games – the highest ratio in La Liga;

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WATCH : Graham Hunter says Bienvenue Zizou by tipping a 4/1 bet

It’s been a bit of a strange week in Spain. We had the sacking of Benitez (after winning 10-2), a fiery derby between Barcelona and Espanyol and Gary Neville’s second win as boss of Valencia.

Real Madrid vs Deportivo

The legendary player returning to take charge of a club he was famous at. Madrid love scoring at home to Depor, so I’m saying a Real win , Bale and Ronaldo to continue their form with goals apiece. You never know with Depor. Lucas Perez is their key, if he shows up, he’ll score at anytime and Depor might shut down Zidane’s party.

  • Deportivo are averaging a point per game away from home, the same as their opponents
  • Cristiano Ronaldo has contributed to nearly 70% of Madrid’s goals so far this season

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Real Sociedad vs Valencia

Neville might have two wins under his belt, but neither of those have been in the league. He could pick it up this week at Sociedad. The ‘Royals’ are missing their star player Agirretxe for this game, and they haven’t been able to pick up the goalscoring slack. A score draw is likely, but maybe a Valencia win at

Barcelona vs Granada

The champions came out on top of that derby against Espanyol, and they will easily do so against Granada this weekend. Any of the three magistas up front should score, but Neymar will open the scoring at . For the opposition, Penaranda is the best bet to get a consolation at anytime. Barca hold a game in hand over the leaders Atleti, and a routine home win is what’s happening here

  • Barca can go top if Atleti drop points away to Celta
  • Both teams have scored in 67% of Granada’s games – the highest ratio in La Liga

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Graham Hunter: Zinedine Zidane is a mere plaster over the gaping sore that is Florentino Perez

Twas the night before Christmas …. well, it was exactly eight nights before Christmas.

Florentino Pérez, having already confirmed Rafa Benitez’s job security just three weeks earlier, following the 4-0 thrashing by Barça, went on the El Larguero [‘Crossbar’] show on Spanish Radio.

He said, and I quote:

“Benítez is not going to be replaced by Zidane. The media have decided this is happening but it’s Real Madrid who name the coaches so Benitez will not be sacked and replaced by Zidane. He came to resolve our troubles -Rafa is the solution, not the problem.”

That was precisely eighteen days ago.

Since when Real Madrid have played three, won two, drawn one [at Valencia where they lost last year] and scored 15 goals. Sacking form?? Only on Planet Florentino

RafaelBenitez

Back on December 17 the Madrid President added:

“We chose Benítez from a large number of candidates because he’s the right man to sort this squad’s specific problems.

“From last January until the summer we were in free-fall – he was the cure. “If we choose him as the right guy there’s no way we can say after three months that he’s got to go! “We have to give him time”.

‘No way’ right?

Rafa should have been packing his bags there and then. White club speak with forked tongue. And this is a mess of Los Blancos’ own making.

Sacking Carlo Ancelotti after a Champions League, a Copa del Rey, a World Club Cup a European Supercup and another Champions League semi final was an aberration. [Florentino to blame].

A point which both Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo made at the end of last season.

Zidane with Ancelotti

Once Ancelotti was sacked, appointing Zidane there and then [a job offer which the Frenchman stated he wouldn’t have turned down] would have been more strategic, fairer on Zizou and more intelligent. [Florentino to blame].

Appointing Rafa Benitez, his obvious talents aside, was like putting a fox in the hen-house. [Florentino to blame]

Everything he was good at, all his beliefs, every single career landmark which vouched for his talent flew directly against where this squad is right now.

Directly against what the fans were crying out for.

This Madrid squad needs management with finesse – it needs unifying, it needs fine-calibration and it needs sufficient commitment to the cause so that the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts rather than less than the sum as it is right now.

Benitez is the gruff, distant, ‘do it that way because I told you to!’ brand of manager who has won perhaps two, maybe three, outright fans in his main group of players. [Bale, Keylor and Nacho]

The vast majority of the rest of Madrid’s highly pampered players are either indifferent to him… or disbelievers.

The fans? They wanted verve, flair, daring, wins, goals, attacking play. And they wanted something to distract the world’s affection away from Barça

Albeit that Benitez’s Madrid are through to a very winnable last sixteen tie in the Champions League and sit only four points off the top of La Liga [decent positions for January of a first season] the cautious brand of football he proposed simply didn’t fit with the increasingly angry and voluble supporters.Will He Manage

Let’s See What You Can Do Zizou

So, Zidane takes over.

On the plus side his first clutch of fixtures are extremely winnable – a factor in Perez deciding to act now.

Before Madrid face Liga leaders Atlético in late February they play Deportivo [H], Sporting [H], Betis [A], Espanyol [H], Granada [A], Athletic [H] and Málaga [A].

Deportivo are excelling themselves, Athletic are much more formidable than for some seasons and care is needed away at hostile Andaluz football grounds.

But it’s not brutally unfair to suggest that Madrid could, perhaps should, win all those games and give Zizou a 21 point salute before the Madrid derby.

Zidane takes a 46% win rate from his work with Real Madrid’s ‘B’ team, Castilla, and is the youngest Madrid coach since Jorge Valdano twenty years ago. Nobody else would have been given the job based on those stats.

Valdano immediately pointed out: “Zidane is a risky appointment because of his lack of experience”.

That’s both fair and accurate.

But Zidane is also a buffer between the root of all that ails this club, Florentino Pérez, and the increasingly hostile Madrid fans.

zidane_volley

Zizou is a legend, is the emblem of Madrid’s historic ninth European Cup win thanks to that dazzling goal at Hampden and he’s a football man of intelligence, calm, talent and elegance.

If it feels good to the rest of us to have Zizou back in the frontline – just imagine how it must feel to the fans and some of the players?

Florentino’s actions have been guided by him looking for an opiate for the masses – gifting them a club legend.

So that their angry gaze will divert from the President.

But, bear this in mind. When the Frenchman played his last game for Madrid it was against Villarreal in May 2006.

The game ended in a 3-3 draw which was a delight for the neutral to watch but a bitter disappointment to Madrid and their fans.

It was Zidane’s farewell to the Bernabéu but vast hordes of the Madridistas didn’t care.

They streamed out of the stadium in disgust at the scoreline. Most of the players simply trooped off, shoulders sagging.

I well remember David Beckham and Iker Casillas almost dragging the rest of the squad back to the centre of the pitch to help pay homage to Zidane as the more honourable fans who had stayed behind at least applauded this fabulous talent and bade him adios!

It was a dishonourable discharge, completely unfitting for such an iconic Madrid player – let down by supporters and team-mates alike after the final whistle.

And a warning to Zizou about how fickle this club can be, will be, if the results and performances aren’t something approaching perfection.

As for Florentino’s backing – with a friend like that, who needs enemies?

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Watch: Graham Hunter is backing the top three La Liga teams to win in this 4/1 treble

At the start of the new year there’s a three-horse race for the La Liga title. Barcelona’s attacking trio of Suarez, Messi and Neymar are scoring at will and even though things aren’t quite right at the Bernabeu Real are keeping close to the defending champions. And we can’t overlook Atletico Madrid. The 2013-14 champions look like they’ll be there or thereabouts come squeaky bum time, or whatever the Spanish equivalent is. Graham Hunter takes a look at how they’ll all kick off 2016.

Graham’s Treble: Barcelona to win, Atletico Madrid -1 goal & both teams to score and Real Madrid to win at 4/1

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WATCH : Graham Hunter backing both Madrids in 22/1 treble

Barcelona are away at the Club World Cup so there’s a chance that the chasing pack can close in on the Catalans. But there’s also a small matter of a derby match as well.

Betis vs Sevilla 

The Seville derby is one of the most hostile in the world, but Betis haven’t been able to beat Sevilla at home for a decade, and haven’t beaten them at all since 2012.  Gameiro is Sevilla’s top scorer this season and recorded a brace against Gijon last time around. Back him anytime at . Betis can’t afford to lose though, so a score draw at is a good bet to take

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Malaga vs Atletico Madrid
All Atleti need is a point to go top of La Liga. Griezmann has scored five in his last five appearances, he is on fire at the moment and should continue his form at anytime. Malaga’s home record has been patchy this season so far, but against Atletico it has been good. An Atleti win () is the one to back, but take both teams to score at

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Real Madrid vs Rayo Vallecano-
Real are really firing, five wins in their last eight, against a Rayo side scrapping down the bottom. This will be easy for Madrid, Benzema () Ronaldo () and Bale () will all be fancied to score, and the handicap of -2 is tempting also at

 

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WATCH : Graham Hunter is back again with a 35/1 La Liga treble

Barcelona were a little bit too relaxed midweek against Leverkusen in the Champions League, and now with Neymar injured, and the possibility of Messi missing out, their hopes might have to fall on a young duo up front

  • Deportivo have been good away from home this season so far, conceding on average just one goal per game. Barcelona are missing one of their in form front three. The Catalans by a single goal is
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Gary Neville is eager for his first La Liga game, but when he arrives at the ground he might not be. Eibar have been value for their position in the table, and are averaging a point and a goal per game at home. A score draw is

  • Borja Baston  has been Eibar’s top goalscorer this season, and he’s to score first , Shkodran Mustafi looked good during the week against Lyon, and is to score anytime
  • Atletico play Atletic, and I’m focusing on Raul Garcia. The midfielder has four yellows so far this season for Bilbao, and three goals to boot. He’s been sent off against them before for Osasuna, but he’s to score this time

Real Madrid are beginning to find form after their Clasico defeat, with six goals in the two matches since then. They visit Villarreal looking to close to within one of Barca

  • Bale and Ronaldo have both scored in those two games. The Welshman is to bring his tally to five for the season , Ronaldo to keep his run up
  • Roberto Soldado always seems to score against Real – but never wins. He’s to continue that streak

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