La Liga Betting: Setien will get off to winning start at Barcelona
Dan Fitch previews the weekend La Liga action and is expecting Quique Setien's Barcelona to enjoy a comprehensive win against Granada...
Madrid will go top temporarily
Real Madrid1.67 v Sevilla 5.40; The Draw 4.40 Saturday 18 January, 15:00 Live on Betfair Live Video
Fresh from winning the Super Cup in Jeddah, Real Madrid will be aiming to go top of La Liga, ahead of the current leaders Barcelona.
With Barca not playing until Sunday night and the two rivals level on points, even a draw would see Madrid go top. That's the least that Real should achieve, with Zinedine Zidane's side currently unbeaten in 16 matches (W10 D6).
Not that Sevilla will be easy opposition. Fourth in La Liga, they are only five points away from the top spot themselves, losing only one of their last eleven league games (W6 D4). An interesting subplot to this match is that it will mark the return of the former Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui to the Bernabeu after his ill-fated spell in charge in 2018.
As much as Lopetegui has improved Sevilla, they have failed to win any of their matches this season against Spain's big three (D1 L2), with Real Madrid winning the reverse fixture 1-0. The hosts are in great defensive form of late, conceding only one goal in their last five matches. Back them to win to nil against Sevilla at 3.00.
Atletico can continue fine form
Eibar5.60 v Atletico Madrid 1.86; The Draw 3.40 Saturday 18 January, 20:00 Live on LaLigaTV
Atletico Madrid were the beaten finalists in the Super Cup, losing a penalty shootout after a 0-0 draw.
Had Real's Federico Valverde not made the clinical decision to hack down Alvaro Morata when the striker was clean through, then Atletico may have snatched victory in extra time. As it is they can still take confidence from their performance in the final and their 3-2 semi-final victory over Barcelona.
These results extended their unbeaten run - penalty shootouts aside - to seven games (W5 D2). The most impressive aspect of this sequence is that the goals have started to flow again, with Atletico scoring two or more goals in five of those seven matches.
They should claim another win at an Eibar side that have only won one of their last seven (D1 L5) and are just four points clear of the relegation zone. The price of 1.86 for an Atletico Madrid win looks like decent value and there's no need to make things more complicated to find a bigger price.
Opening win of Setien reign
Barcelona1.18 v Granada 20.00; The Draw 9.60 Sunday 19 January, 20:00 Live on LaLiga TV
Most clubs wouldn't sack their manager when they are top of the league and through to the last-16 of the Champions League, but Barcelona are not most clubs.
Ernesto Valverde may have guided Barca to the title in both of his two full seasons at the club, but repeated failures in cup competitions and a perceived defensive approach resulted in his sacking - a move described as 'disrespectful' by Rivaldo this week. Valverde was dismissed after the Super Cup defeat to Atletico Madrid, in a game that Barcelona were winning 2-1 until late on. That was the final straw for a club that have witnessed the team being eliminated from the Champions League in successive seasons - Roma in 2017-18 and Liverpool in 2018-19 - when defending very strong positions from the first-leg.
Quique Setien is Valverde's replacement and unlike most managers taking over a team in mid-season, he inherits a pretty enviable situation. The 61-year old's reputation flourished during his two years with Real Betis, in which he achieved a sixth placed finish and had the side playing a style of football much more in keeping with Barcelona's traditions than the often pragmatic Valverde.
Setien should start his reign with a win against a Granada team that have only won two of their last nine La Liga outings (D1 L6). A Barcelona win and over 3.5 goals is 2.10.