La Liga Betting: Real Madrid too strong for Zaragoza



The media asked Zaragoza manager Manolo Jiménez if he felt that Real Madrid may be weakened - mentally or in team selection - by this game arriving between the international break and the Champions League. "We may be better or worse," he responded, "but we are not going to get caught asleep." He has been given the dreaded vote of confidence by club president Fernando Molinos.

He might have had a two-week break from domestic football, but José Mourinho has certainly been busy. Speaking to Portuguese public service broadcaster RTP, he indicated that there was something iffy with the FIFA World Coach of the Year award, disingenuously suggesting that this was the real reason he didn't attend the ceremony. He fuelled speculation further of a return to Chelsea by appearing at Stamford Bridge as a guest for Brazil v Russia, gave an interview about his love for the club and England in general, and even managed to be nice about Roberto Mancini and Rafa Benítez. Then, on his return to Madrid, he managed to postpone a planned march in support of him as manager of the club, citing the distraction it would cause for his team ahead of the Champions League tie against Galatasaray.

Team news

Zaragoza goalkeeper Roberto is free from injury and should return in place of Leo Franco. Rubén Rochina will probably start for Stefan Babovic, whilst Apoño remains a doubt.

Iker Casillas, who travelled to France to support his country this week, has been left out of the Real matchday squad. Karim Benzema was booed off the pitch by his own fans in that match, but may be given the chance to boost his confidence here.

Form

Zaragoza are yet to win in 2013. Jiménez was the manager brought in on new year's eve last season and inspired a dramatic turnaround in the team's form. But he's now struggling to motivate the group and the results are reflecting this.

It's seven wins on the bounce for Los Blancos, though they needed some inspirational substitutions and a change to a 4-1-4-1 formation by the 'Special One' to beat Mallorca a fortnight ago.

Recent head-to-head

On Madrid's last visit to La Romareda they put six past a hapless Zaragoza, Cristiano Ronaldo bagging himself a hat-trick. The forward is available at 10.00 to score at least three goals this time around.

Goalscorer betting

Luka Modrić opened his La Liga account against Zaragoza in November, scoring in stoppage time during an emphatic win for Madrid. Goals in recent matches with Manchester United and Real Mallorca were far more important, showing Spain the quality that the fans of Tottenham had witnessed for years. Harshly labelled 'the worst signing of the season' by readers of Marca, the Croatian is coming into his own. The former Tottenham midfielder is 3.75 to score within 90 minutes or 12.00 for the opener.

Verdict

Los Blanquillos have not scored in their last three matches, which shows the sizeable task they face against the champions. They are in serious risk of relegation but they just can't buy a win at the moment. That's likely to continue here with Madrid in fine form. The away win is at 1.40.

Bonus bet

In the last five meetings between the two sides there have been at least four goals per match, whilst 23 goals have been scored in the last six games featuring Real Madrid. Over 3.5 goals is available at 2.10.

Score prediction: Real Zaragoza 1-2 Real Madrid (8.00)