If you've been following Spain's top football league, you'll know this could be a crucial week for two of La Liga's top clubs, Real Madrid and Valencia. Both sides are involved in Spanish Cup action – prior to a top-four clash on January 27 at the Mestalla – that could be key to both team's aspirations for this season.
However, while Valencia will be keen on extending their five-point advantage over Madrid, Real will be intent on ensuring this season isn't a relative disaster – creating what looks likely to be a very tight affair. Backing the draw markets from various angles seems to be the astute move for bettors.
Pay special attention to the cards market too, as there is no love lost between these sides and things will surely get physical. When considering the draw market as suggested, some bettors might also watch the both teams to score market as 1-1, 2-2, 3-3 etc means double dipping the event.
Valencia have played 20 La Liga games so far this season, walking away with 12 wins, four draws and four losses. Three of their losses have come away from home, and their largely impressive home form includes 1-1 draws with both Atlético Madrid in September and Barcelona in November.
While they experienced a dip in league form following the Barca game (LWLLWWL), it's worth noting that three of those defeats came away from home. The 0-1 loss at home came against a talented Villarreal side who recently inflicted the same scoreline on Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu.
The Villarreal defeat aside, the Mestalla is proving something of a fortress for Valencia this season – not the ideal travel destination for an under-pressure Zinedine Zidane and his Real Madrid side. The team's season has been like a stuttering juggernaut – equally as capable of annihilating teams (5-0 against Sevilla and 7-1 versus Deportivo), as they are of putting in poor performances (0-3 against Barca).
But what's notable about Real's seasonal form is that their home record is where they're struggling – having already lost to Real Betis, Barcelona and Villarreal. In contrast, their away performances have been better on paper and for football betting fans – they’ve only lost once (1-2 to Girona) and drawn once (0-0 with Atlético).
Nevertheless, Zidane's team have played top-five sides four times this season, and are yet to win, recording two draws and two losses. That makes their odds of 8/13 favourites for the game look very skinny and based solely on the reputation of Ronaldo and other big-name stars.
What we're left with is a side who are hard to beat at home, versus a side who are hard to beat away – making William Hills odds of 10/3 for the draw an appealing bet. The sides drew 2-2 early in the season, adding to the feeling that this particular game is going to be ultra-competitive.
Even in their defeats this season, Valencia have yet to be convincingly beaten, losing by a single goal margin each time. While Madrid thumped Deportivo 7-1 at home in their last La Liga game, they've drawn three on the road. Real need points against unless they want to finish the season in fourth place, while Valencia will desperately want to prevent giving them away to the visitors.
Given the appeal of the match finishing with the points shared, betting on the correct score in the draw market also has some obvious appeal – particularly 0-0 at 22/1 and 1-1 at 10/1 with William Hill. The sides drew 2-2 at The Bernabéu back in September, but Valencia have already demonstrated their tactics at home this season, against the top sides: sit back, keep it tight and use the counter-attack.
That's resulted in 1-1 draws with second-in-the-table Atlético Madrid and league-leaders Barcelona. While Real Madrid have as ever displayed the ability to turn up and pile in the goals, they haven't done so against the top La Liga sides. Indeed, Real drew 0-0 away at Atlético Madrid, and lost 0-1 away to Villarreal and 0-3 to Barca at home.
If the game pans out as expected, then we could easily see a repeat of the half-time:full-time draw that occurred back in August – something that's backable at 7/1 with top online bookmakers. Despite Real Madrid being firm favourites with the bookies to finally start putting the top sides in La Liga to the sword, their odds are desperately short to beat a very solid proposition in the shape of Valencia.
Los Che have already drawn with Atlético Madrid and Barcelona at the Mestalla, and backing a Valencia – Madrid draw at 10/3 with William Hill looks the solid bet in the game. For those interested in checking out all the odds themselves for this weekend's big match, feel free to sign up with William Hill today!