Atletico to win clash of last season’s champions

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Atletico Madrid beat Elche home and away en route to winning the Spanish Primera Division title last season and one rates the defending champion as the best bet of the 14th round.

All that is keeping Elche off the bottom of the Spanish Primera Division ladder is Cordoba, which one thinks should not be in the top flight considering where it finished last term’s Spanish Segunda Division regular season. Elche has won just one of its last nine Spanish Primera Division games and that was a 2-1 home victory over an Espanyol team that has the worst points-per-match away average in the league.

Atletico Madrid boasted the best Spanish Primera Division road record last term and, while Diego Simeone’s side does not have the league’s best away figures this season, it is arguably the best equipped travelling team as it gives up fewer scoring opportunities than either Barcelona or Real Madrid. Generally speaking, Atletico does not beat itself.

Elche copped a 0-3 Spanish Primera Division drubbing away to Sociedad last weekend and its most recent league home game resulted in a 2-2 draw with cellar dweller Cordoba, a match in which it trailed 0-2 with fewer than 30 minutes to go.

One has to pick one’s spots to back football teams at odds on away from home but this is one of them. Atletico Madrid is overpriced at odds at -161  with Ladbrokes and Paddy Power to defeat Elche and move, albeit probably only temporarily, into second place on the Spanish Primera Division ladder since its match is the round’s first.

Bilbao rested most of its regular starters for its Spanish Copa del Rey game at third-tier Alcoyano so one is not going to read much into Tuesday’s 1-1 draw. Alcoyano parked the bus before and after it took the lead completely against the run of play and one does not doubt that Bilbao will qualify for the next stage of the Spanish Copa del Rey by taking care of business in the second leg of the tie in two weeks.

What Bilbao did achieve versus Alcoyano was extending its unbeaten sequence to five matches and one thinks that it will have too much ability for Spanish Primera Division struggler Cordoba at San Mames on Saturday. Cordoba is without a Spanish Primera Division win since securing promotion to the top flight and, with its best players playing on loan deals, its future is pretty bleak.

Bilbao is available at odds of -227  with Boylesports and Coral to continue its steady climb up the Spanish Primera Division ladder – remember, it finished fourth last term – at the expense of a Cordoba side that will require a miracle to avoid relegation back to the second level.

Finally, one thinks that the conservative nature of Sociedad boss David Moyes in big games means that Villarreal is over the odds at -133  with several bookmakers, including Bwin and Ladbrokes, to win Sunday’s match.

Sociedad’s Spanish Primera Division trip to Villarreal marks its first genuine test since Moyes succeeded Jagoba Arrasate in the Anoeta dugout and, unless the former Everton and Manchester United manager has changed his spots, the away team is likely to adopt a cautious approach at El Madrigal.

As one remarked last month, it is possible to summarise the Spanish Primera Division record of Villarreal thus: it beats the league’s bad sides and it loses to the league’s good sides. Time will tell in which category Sociedad belongs – it is better than its Spanish Primera Division ranking of 14th but perhaps not by a huge amount – but for now one is willing to back Villarreal based on its form and the poor managerial record of Moyes in difficult away assignments.

Tips Summary

Atletico Madrid to beat Elche
6th December 15:00 GMT
Odds:  -161
Where to Bet: LadbrokesPaddy Power

Bilbao to beat Cordoba
6th December 17:00 GMT
Odds:  -227
Where to Bet: Boylesports, Coral

Villarreal to beat Sociedad
7th December 18:00 GMT
Odds:  -133
Where to Bet: BwinLadbrokes

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