La Liga Betting: Atletico can scrape win at spirited strugglers
There's a busy schedule of La Liga fixtures before El Clasico on Sunday and Dan Fitch fancies a rare Atletico Madrid away victory, as he picks his tips...
Sevilla 1.49 v Osasuna 8.40; The Draw 4.60 Sunday 1 March, 11:00 Live on LaLigaTV
Sevilla's clean sheet streak will continue
A truly super Sunday of La Liga action kicks off in the morning with Sevilla's match against Osasuna.
In the first of five back-to-back fixtures, Sevilla will be hoping to move up to third in La Liga and put some pressure on Atletico Madrid, who currently occupy that position. Whether that will happen is another matter. Julen Lopetegui's side are not in the best form, winning only one of their last seven games (D4 L2).
Fortunately for Sevilla, three of those games without a win came in cup competitions, which has left them in a strong position in the league. The latest of those cup games came on Thursday night when Sevilla drew 0-0 at home to Cluj, which could leave them fatigued for this early kick off.
Osasuna have not been in the best form themselves though, winning one of their last five games (L4). They were beaten 3-0 at home to Granada last weekend and with Sevilla having just kept two consecutive clean sheets, back them to win to nil at 2.30.
Low scoring game looks a certainty
Athletic Bilbao2.48 v Villarreal 3.30; The Draw 3.40 Sunday 1 March, 13:00 Live on LaLigaTV
Next up is a clash between eleventh placed Athletic Bilbao and a Villarreal side in seventh.
A run of ten games without a La Liga win (D5 L5) has seen Bilbao slide down the table. This has in large part been down to their impressive Copa del Rey run. Athletic knocked Barcelona out of the competition at the quarter-final stage and will now have one eye on the second-leg of their semi-final away at Granada that takes place on Thursday.
The Bilbao manager Gaizka Garitano has a relatively slim squad of players available to him and with the cup looking the likeliest path to a successful season, it's hard to see why his side are the favourites here.
Villarreal lost last weekend away at Atletico Madrid, but as that was only their second defeat in their last 10 La Liga matches (W6 D2) they seem the more realistic winners. While there's a temptation to back Villarreal at a generous price, Athletic Bilbao's defensive record suggests we should play it safe. Their last seven home games have all seen two goals or less, which makes under 2.5 goals great value at 1.73.
Atletico will pick up overdue away victory
Espanyol4.50 v Atletico Madrid 2.14; The Draw 3.20 Sunday 1 March, 15:00 Live on LaLigaTV
If results elsewhere go against them, it's possible that Atletico Madrid could start this game having fallen to fifth place in La Liga.
The tightness of the race for the top four makes it imperative for Atletico to continue their improved form. Their victory against Villarreal stretched their unbeaten run to four matches (W3 D1).
All three of those victories came at home though. Away from the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano they are without a win in five (D2 L3). With a vital away match against Liverpool to come soon in the Champions League, this game with Espanyol looks like an opportunity to get back to winning ways.
Espanyol are bottom of La Liga. Their home form isn't bad, with the team's 3-2 win over Wolves in the Europa League making it five games unbeaten (W2 D3), but playing on Thursday could take a toll against an Atletico side that have had a week between fixtures. Back an Atletico win and both teams to score at 6.00.