Sunday, April 08, 2012



Four football selections in this email and there will follow up notes at 11.30 this morning ( UK time) in which I will take a look at the final round of the US Masters and also post that promised early bet for midweek.

Brentford won again yesterday, that's five in a row and performance levels were once again good. It was also the ninth straight very solid showing ( 6-3-0) against teams from the North West and I outlined the likely reasons for this ahead of the Oldham fixture in midweek......

I can also tell you that Brentford have tended to put in improved performances in return fixtures ( second matches with clubs), this says a lot about them tactically and augurs well for next season, when Uwe Rosler and his backroom team will have far more information on their opponents. The Bees won 2-0 at Boundary Park back in September.

Also, the Bees have posted very good results in matches against teams from the North West, being unbeaten in seven ( 4-3-0) and scoring two or more in six of those, they came up short at Bury ( 1-1) but should have scored four that day and should have also won there and at Tranmere Rovers ( 2-2) , where they threw points away. I do not think that this is coincidence, as Rosler and his first team coach both have homes in the Greater Manchester area and see a lot of games there. Just in case your geography is a little off, Oldham is about 11km northeast of Manchester.


I have waxed lyrical about Athletic for around seven months and have no doubts that they are one of the top 4-5 sides in Spain and that, on a going day, they are a match for even the big two. However, the strain of playing on three fronts, they are also in the Copa final next month, has caught up with them at times recently and it is their league form which has suffered. Athletic have lost their last three La Liga games following a Europa League fixture and suffered a similar fate after their last Copa del Rey match. They must be running on empty and this will be their 11th start in just 35 days, today's opponent Sevilla will be playing just their sixth match in the same period and they arrive in arguably their best form of the campaign, with three straight wins, two on the road and both by 3-0 margins. We were big on Sevilla in both of those ( see below) and the points have taken them back into european contention for next season, dropped points for Osasuna and Espanyol last night mean that Los Rojiblancos would move up to at least sixth with a win and with 5th placed Levante and strong Atletico , who are level on points with Sevilla ,playing earlier in the day, even a Champions League spot remains up for grabs. They arrive without a couple of defensive options in Coke and Trochowski, but have plenty of alternatives and Bilbao will have to be at their best to see off the inform visitors, who are fresher and hungrier and with Medel, Navas, Manu del Moral, Reyes and Negredo have the players to create and score anywhere, against any opponent. Martinez is suspended for the hosts. Two bets for me, the visitors off level ball and the "over". I saw some 8.0 for Sevilla to score three or more, which is huge IMO, Bilbao have conceded two in seven of their last nine and Valencia scored three here recently.

1.25 units Sevilla level ball 2.33 asian line.
1.5 units "Over" 2.75 goals 2.05

Athletic : Iraizoz, Toquero, Aurtenetxe, Amorebieta, San José, Iturraspe, Llorente, De Marcos, Gabilondo, Koikili, Raúl, Susaeta, Iraola, Muniain, Ander Herrera, Ekiza, Ibai, Ramalho and Ruiz de Galarreta.

Sevilla : Palop, Javi Varas, Cala, Fazio, Escudé, Fernando Navarro, Luna, Medel, Rakitic, Guarente, De Mul, Navas, Kanouté, Babá, Negredo, Manu del Moral, Alberto Moreno and Deivid.


Good Luck.



Looking at the league table, it would be easy to make a case for the hosts, who sit just one place ,albeit by six points, outside the drop zone, especially with a visit to Racing, the team immediately below them in the table, their next fixture. However, we discussed Sevilla and their approach and desire to finish as high as possible ahead of their own trip to Santander on Thursday ( see below) , they won that 3-0 and Racing gave the formline a nice boost, with a 1-1 draw at Betis yesterday. The options available to visiting coach Michel were illustrated when he was able to start with players of the quality of Jose Reyes, Frederic Kanoute and Ivan Rakitic on the bench. All three came on for the second half, Medel and Negredo being wrapped up in cotton wool after the second goal scored and the points were secure.

Sevilla are back to their usual level and have the players to be able to score freely against bottom eight teams and against anyone on a going day. Granada are coming off a 5-3 loss at Barcelona last midweek, they had little of the ball in that game, as you might expect, but showed great heart to come back from two down to 2-2 as the game entered the final quarter, however, that was more to do with the hosts switching off than ability by the visitors and Barce were back in front inside five minutes. Having said that, scoring three at the Nou Camp is never easy and will have given them a boost of sorts. These two both play open football and goals are on the cards tonight and the "over" at circa 2.11 + in asia looks on the big side, but with the hosts short on midfield options, Martins is suspended and joins Fran Rico, Jaime Romero and Hassan Yebda on the sidelines, which means that coach Abel Resino has only been able to name three recognised midfielders in the squad, with one selected being a full back and another a forward, I have to stick with the visitors. 1.5 units Sevilla level ball 1.83 asian line .

SEVILLA : Palop, Javi Varas, Coke, Cala, Fazio, Escudé, Luna, Fernando Navarro, Medel, Rakitic, Trochowski, Reyes, Jesús Navas, Kanouté, Babá, Negredo, Manu del Moral and Tom de Mul.

GRANADA: Roberto, Cesar, Nyom, Siqueira, Cortes, Lopez, Pamarot, Mainz, Gomez, Lucena, Mikel Rico, Abel Gomez, Jara, Benitez, Hurtado, Ighalo, Uche, Geijo and Henrique.


Certainly not the most interesting day today, but we can talk a little about the La Liga fixture between Racing Santander and Sevilla.

Hosts have lost their last three starts and that has left them in the heart of the relegation battle, three points from safety. They desperately need to turn things around quickly, but are missing five potential starters tonight in Marcos Gullon, Tono , Bernardo, Acosta and Francis, the first three named have formed the central spine of the team recently and they are going to struggle to stop the flow of goals against them tonight, having conceded 14 in their last five outings anyway.

Sevilla looked to have got back to winning ways under new coach Michel, after wins over Osasuna and Valencia and a point against resurgent Atletico, who had been on fire going into that match, a sequence which had their supporters dreaming of a potential european spot,but they have lost their last two and now sit in no man's midfield land, although just seven points adrift of Osasuna in sixth, with tonight's game in hand. A win and only a win will do for them and I expect them to come looking for the points, at a venue they have only lost at once in eight visits. They also arrive having had an extra 48 hours rest, with Racing having played at Espanol on Monday night, they led early there but were behind inside 33 minutes and tired badly after playing the last 40 minutes with ten men, they are in poor spirits, drained and short of numbers tonight and it is hard to see them suddenly turning things around.

The visitors are without Emir Spahic at the back, but this is more than offset by the return of Fazio and Coke, who both missed out on the loss to Barcelona last saturday, no shame there of course, fans were less happy with the 1-0 defeat at Gijon, but Los Rojiblancos had a lot of the ball and chances in a very fiery encounter in which home coach Clemente had his troops fired up, following a feud with Michel which has gone on for two decades ! Sevilla also performed ok against Barce and tried to take the game to Messi and co with a very attacking formation, which saw the return of Kanoute and the influential Gary Medel, who had missed out on the Gijon game. They refused to lie down at 0-2, hit the woodwork and caused the visiting defence a lot of problems out wide, through Reyes and Navas, they have made improvement under Michel, especially in midfield, but his position is far from certain and he and the club need a strong finish to the campaign. He dared not risk Negredo on saturday, but he will surely play some part tonight and will fancy his chances against this porous and weakened defence. 1.25 units Sevilla -0.5 ball 2.29 + asian line, six of Racing's last nine losses have come by two or more goals, including their last three and this is an option if you are brave enough, 4.50 is the general quote, the 5.50 on offer with Ladbrokes is way too big, but you will have to be one of chosen few to get on there !

Sevilla : Palop, Javi Varas, Coke, Cala, Fazio, Escudé, Luna, Fernando Navarro, Medel, Campaña, Rakitic, Trochowski, Reyes, Jesús Navas, Kanouté, Babá, Negredo, Manu del Moral and Perotti

Good Luck.

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