La Liga Betting: Málaga v Real Madrid



Frank Sinatra's 'My Way' was played over the public address system at the Santiago Bernabéu prior to Real Madrid's match with Espanyol. Coincidence or not, José Mourinho will live by the sword and die by the sword; his methods are not open to negotiation. In a heated exchange with a Marca journalist, Mourinho ranted: "Why do you listen to the three bad eggs and not the other 21 in the squad?" The identity of the 'three bad eggs' is yet to be revealed, though it doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to work out that it's from the Spanish-speaking camp.

Unsurprisingly, Mou and the Real hierarchy have different opinions on their title chances, with Los Blancos now 13 points behind the leaders. "The distance is too big to close" said the Special One, but president Florentino Perez countered, saying "We don't give up at Real Madrid."

Manuel Pellegrini faces his former side after admitting they were lucky to beat Sevilla last Saturday, his team were second best in the first half, though a goal straight after the break changed the complexion of the match.

Team news

It will largely be the same Málaga team that won in Seville. The only likely change is Javier Saviola for Roque Santa Cruz up front, though the latter would cause problems in the air.

"When you use Modrić in the line-up twice he disappoints" said Mourinho, so don't expect the Croatian to start this match. Ángel Di María should, however, after his impact as a substitute. Karim Benzema may be back in contention.

Form

Málaga drew 1-1 with Eibar in the Copa Del Rey in the week, "The game was played on a pitch that made it very difficult to play football," complained Pellegrini at full-time. They are now unbeaten in four games in all competitions and have kept nine clean sheets in the league this season.

The draw with Espanyol was another low for Mourinho's team, though they have won six of their last ten matches. After a lethargic performance, a reaction is needed now more than ever.

Recent head-to-head

Mourinho has historically belittled all managers he has replaced from club-to-club, in a bid to promote his own work. Claudio Ranieri and Roberto Mancini have fallen foul of his tongue, and Pellegrini is no different. Madrid have scored 18 goals in their last four matches with Málaga, though the current defence is a different proposition, having let just 10 goals in domestically. Over 3.5 goals is 2.20 or under the same line is 1.55.

Goalscorer betting

Whilst Ronaldo (1.55 to score) looks to close the gap on his Argentine nemesisgoals are arriving from all places at the moment. Mesut Özil is 11.00 to open the scoring and it's worth a look at Sergio Ramos for a profitable return at 22.00.

Isco is apparently on Real Madrid's radar. With just a €20 million buy-out clause he is a cheaper alternative to Manchester City's David Silva. If you think he'll show his prospective buyers that he has goals in him, back him at 4.50 to net.

Verdict

It would be easy for Real Madrid to just coast along in the league, reserving their best for the Champions League ties with Manchester United in the new year. Publicly Mourinho might be saying one thing, but privately he is likely to be saying another. This will be a difficult match that could easily see a draw at 3.85, though the smart money would be on a Madrid win at 1.60, despite their horrid league form to date.

Bonus bet

A Martín Demichelis header from a corner gave Málaga the lead in the Andalusian derby. At the start of the year, Málaga's set-pieces infuriated the Bernabéu crowd as they scored twice. There will be some worried faces if they should yield a foul around the area this time; eight out of the 14 goals Real Madrid have conceded in the league have been from set-pieces, costing them an astonishing ten points in total. You can get 15.00 for Isco to score from outside the area or 10.00 on former Barça forward Saviola heading one home.

Score prediction: Màlaga 2-3 Real Madrid (18.00)