La Liga Betting: Ruthless Real to trump Mallorca



"We've done well, but we haven't won anything yet. The hard part starts now and I hope we're up to it," remarked Real Madrid manager José Mourinho this week. The coach wasn't happy about a number of things during their recent successful period - he remains keen to iron out problems and get into top gear for the season's run-in. He was on edge over the praise given to Cristiano Ronaldo by Manchester United fans in the build-up to Old Trafford, concerned that it would prove a distraction for the winger and his teammates.

It's Gregorio Manzano's third stint in charge of Real Mallorca. Some fans consider him the best coach the club has ever had, whilst others loathe him in equal measure. In his first spell he led the club to their only ever trophy (the Copa del Rey in 2003) and in his second the club were inches away from a miraculous Champions League position. On his first day back in charge this time around there were fans at the training ground, whistling and booing him. It's not managerial ability that causes the hatred. Manzano previously went unpaid at the club, and a subsequent request to collect the €2 million owed to him threatened to bankrupt Mallorca. He will now be paid 50% of that money in the next five years. Now he has the unenviable task of keeping them in the top flight, but he has been here before.

Team news

Ángel di María and Iker Casillas are both training lightly, while Kaká is likely to retain his place. Raphaël Varane should celebrate his French call-up by starting ahead of Pepe, as the Portuguese centre-back continues to regain fitness.

Mallorca are without seven first-team players for the trip to the capital. The absences of Martí and Javier Márquez leave them short of options in the middle of the park. Michael Pereira may appear alongside Tomás Pina and Fernando Tissone in a three-man midfield.

Form

Madrid have won their last six in a row, with defeat at Granada their only loss of 2013 so far. They have won four of their last five matches by a 2-1 scoreline. A repeat is at 6.75.

After two consecutive wins, the Balearic believe that the Segunda is not a foregone conclusion. Wins over Andalusian sides Granada and Sevilla have put them just two points from safety, and an unlikely win here at 18.00 could see them escape the bottom three.

Recent head-to-head

Five of the last four meetings between the teams have seen Madrid victorious, though Manzano as a coach has fond memories of the Santiago Bernabéu. He has won there three times - the second highest number of wins for a visiting manager in the stadium's history.

Goalscorer betting

A brace from Ronaldo at Celta Vigo gave Madrid the victory. The Portuguese superstar is at 3.05 to get the first here. Varane is nicely priced at 18.00 for first scorer, whilst last week's two-goal hero for Mallorca, Alejandro Alfaro, is a decent 7.25 to net.

Verdict

The psychological strength of Mourinho's men will be crucial with a two-week gap fast approaching. If his players are already thinking of their respective national sides, then they could receive a shock. But their siege mentality should see them through with a win at 1.12.

Bonus bet

Only five teams have managed a draw at the Bernabéu this season as Los Blancos have remained unbeaten. They have been winning at half-time and full-time in ten of their home matches this campaign. They can be backed to do so again at 1.40.

Score prediction: Real Madrid 2-1 Real Mallorca (6.75)