La Liga has often been derived as ‘boring and uncompetitive,’ though that’s a tag generally given by those who don’t have more than a passing interest in the Spanish top flight.
It is ostensibly true that the cream always rises to the top and you can count on the fingers of one hand the teams other than Barcelona and Real Madrid that have won the title in this millennium (Valencia, Atletico Madrid), but there are always seasons that defy logic.
The current campaign happens to be one of them and even though the same teams are up there challenging, they’ve not made life easy for themselves.
It’s meant a surge of interest in the La Liga betting markets as punters look for value in the teams just outside the top three, but if they turned their gaze downwards, they’d see that their spend might be better placed on the relegation battle.
They were 5 points from safety just a month ago...— LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) January 28, 2019
Rayo's incredible 2019 form sees them move out of the relegation zone for the first time this season! 📈 pic.twitter.com/IeCAjmRIcy
So often in many leagues nowadays, the three to fall through the trap door don’t know their fate until the final kick of the final game. ‘Football as theatre’ you might say.
With another transfer window about to end, most clubs have done their business until the summer, and, more than ever, the purchases made – or not – by the bottom clubs will have a bearing on where they end up at the end of the season.
New boys, Huesca, are already nine points from safety and it makes little sense to place any bets on them at 1/16. The value lies with the teams just above them.
By far the best value to be had from the teams in the bottom six is an astonishing 13/1 bet with Paddy Power for Espanyol to go down.
At present, Rubi’s side are swimming against the tide and can’t seem to find any sort of consistency.
Two of their three wins from their last 14 matches in all competitions have come in the Copa del Rey. The only league victory was a slender 1-0 win over Leganes at the turn of the year.
You then have to go back to early November to find their last La Liga win, against a struggling Athletic Club side.
In short, the Periquitos have shown nothing in terms of progress across the campaign, and with just one new signing in January, Chinese striker Wu Lei, they’ll need to see out the remainder of the season with the same players, by and large, that got them into their current mess.
Los Pepineros (or the cucumbers to you and I) have, until recently, enjoyed themselves since coming up to La Liga for the first time ever in 2016.
Indeed, since then they’ve beaten Real Madrid and Barcelona, and been the thorn in the side of many teams. Not bad for a ‘little guy.’
This campaign hasn’t gone quite as planned, however.
The introduction of Martin Braithwaite from Middlesbrough this month has injected some pace and physicality up front for Lega, but too many of his team-mates aren’t at the races just now.
Currently in 16th position, they are just three points from safety and, like the other teams in this list, aren’t in the best form.
Their only league win since December 1 last year came against bottom side, Huesca, and other than the two consecutive wins around that time, there’ve only been two others.
One was against a struggling Rayo Vallecano side back in early October and the other was by far their best result of the campaign, a 2-1 comeback win over Barcelona in late September.
Given their inability to spend big at this time, and with some tricky upcoming fixtures, there’s every chance Lega will be sucked right into the dogfight.
At 10/3 with Betfair, it’s a bet worth taking.
Celta Vigo have outscored every team in La Liga bar Sevilla, Real Madrid and Barcelona, however, they find themselves languishing in 17th place in the table.
At the time of writing, it appears that the Galician club’s board have become impatient with boss, Miguel Cardoso, and are preparing to give him his marching orders.
Only in the position for 10 matches – of which he’s won just two – Cardoso was the replacement for Antonio Mohamed, sacked back in November. It’s rumoured that former Malaga boss, Michel, or Fran Escriba may be handed the reins.
0,78 - Miguel Cardoso has just earned seven points in nine league games, the lowest average for a Celta's manager in the competition the 21st Century (0,78). Questionable pic.twitter.com/8sbLhfUgbg— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 28, 2019
With striker, Maxi Gomez, having his head turned because of supposed interest from West Ham United, the first thing any new incumbent will need to do is get hold of the group and set out exactly what’s required for the next few months.
That includes getting Gomez to focus on the job in hand rather than wishing to further his career in England.
For a team that had genuine aspirations of Europe this season, signing Gabriel Fernandez from Penarol and Wesley Hoedt from Southampton is, with respect, considerably underwhelming.
With confidence at a real low and players about to have to get used to another way of working, don’t be surprised to see Celta drop deeper into trouble.Odds subject to change
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