Sky Blues Have Less to Play For Than Bookies Think

Malaga are overpriced for their trip to Celta Vigo.

Malaga are overpriced for their trip to Celta Vigo.

Malaga is ludicrous odds to win its Spanish Primera Division match at Celta because one thinks that bookmakers do not understand how UEFA Europa League qualification works.

Clearly there are some bookmakers who believe that Sunday’s Spanish Primera Division game between Celta and Malaga has meaning when the reality is that it does not. Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Villarreal have locked away Spain’s four UEFA Champions League berths and the only way that another Spanish Primera Division side can qualify for Europe’s top club tournament is for Sevilla to win the UEFA Europa League for the third consecutive year. Athletic, Celta and Sevilla are guaranteed to play in next season’s UEFA Europa League unless the latter gets past Shakhtar Donetsk and either Liverpool or Villarreal in this term’s edition of that competition. So, in summary, Celta cannot qualify for the UEFA Champions League and it cannot miss out on the UEFA Europa League. Admittedly, Celta could leapfrog Athletic on the Spanish Primera Division ladder and thereby qualify for the UEFA Europa League group stage rather than the third qualifying round of that event but, in the grand scheme of things, it ought not make much of a difference.

One cannot comprehend why Celta is trading at odds as short as -227  to defeat Malaga in their Spanish Primera Division clash. Fair play to Celta in ranking sixth on the Spanish Primera Division ladder with two rounds remaining but the Sky Blues have been largely outplayed by the league’s top teams, excluding their remarkable 4-1 home victory over Barcelona. For the record, Celta is 2-1-6 in its nine Spanish Primera Division matches versus the five sides ranked higher than it and the Sky Blues have a goal difference of minus 13 in those games. And furthermore, Celta is 1-3-4 in its eight Spanish Primera Division home matches against teams located on the top half of the ladder.

Little wonder then that Celta trails Malaga 6-4-9 according to one’s Spanish Primera Division collateral form analysis, which one thinks is the smartest way to compare two sides from a numerical perspective. Included in that data is the reverse Spanish Primera Division fixture between Celta and Malaga that the Anchovies won 2-0 thanks to first-half Raul Albentosa and Charles goals. Celta had Ruben Blanco sent off but that incident occurred midway through the second half.

Celta will go into its final Spanish Primera Division home game without Gustavo Cabral as a consequence of his red card not long before half time in his team’s 1-2 loss at Athletic last weekend. Cabral is Celta’s vice captain and he has started 31 of its 36 Spanish Primera Division matches – Jonny Castro has been its only more frequent starter.

Malaga is 10th on the Spanish Primera Division ladder and it has been competitive in most of its clashes versus the top flight’s top sides – the Anchovies are 2-4-5 against the teams ranked first to seventh and each of their five losses has been by a one-goal margin. The purpose of this weekly column is to highlight attractive bets at long odds but, if backing Malaga to beat Celta at odds of +650  with Bet365 is not your cup of tea, you could consider supporting the Anchovies in other markets at shorter prices – they are available at odds of +180  with Bet365 not to lose and they are trading at odds of -167  with Coral plus two goals.

Three of the last four Spanish Primera Division meetings between Celta and Malaga have resulted in Anchovies wins, with the Sky Blues requiring a last-gasp Nolito goal to claim their recent victory over their upcoming guests.

Tips Summary

Malaga to beat Celta Vigo
Sunday 8th May, 16:00 GMT
Odds:  +650