La Liga: Rayo Vallecano- Real Madrid
I am not going to spend too long on this , Rayo Vallecano and especially coach Paco Jémez have caught everyone's eye with their attacking football and Paco's refusal, absolute refusal, to play the game any other way. They take the game to their opponent regardless of who it is and what the scoreline is at the time, three of four goals down to one of the big two, other coaches would give up, look for damage limitation, Paco is likely to throw on a couple more attacking players and "go for it" ! This is incredible refreshing and that this has been done on a shoestring budget ( said to be about 1.5% of Real's, that is 1.5 by the way, not 15 !) and been wildly successful, has garnered a lot of headlines. Rayo have not come close to relegation in three full campaigns in the top flight since promotion in 2011 and this season they are very comfortable in 9th place with a 12-2-15 record, as you can see, this is an all or nothing team, they do not really do draws and in their 143 games in the top flight since promotion, only 15 (10.48%) have ended all square. As you might expect, this has got Paco a lot of attention, his contract expires in June, he has already told Rayo he will not be renewing it and he has been touted for several big jobs. The Warburton saga at Brentford all started after news broke that the Bees had been in lengthy negotiations earlier this season with the Spanish coach, I do not want to say anything much about that, but the philosophy about how the game should be played is a perfect match and the Bees already have a strong Spanish connection and are wildly ambitious.
Anyway, this match is likely to be very open, Real have won all seven recent meetings by a combined 24-5 and having refound their scoring boots with a 9-1 demolition of Granada at the weekend, the visitors will surely be hungry for more of the same after a very disappointing couple of months with losses to Barcelona, Atletico, Bilbao and Schalke, which was basically a season's worth of defeats inside six weeks. They will want to really build on that win now and take some real momentum into the Champions League first leg match with Atletico next midweek, they lost 4-0 at the Vicente Calderón in early February and three big wins following the international break, Granada, Rayo and Eibar have surely been targeted to ensure they travel in confident mood. Rayo will attack, there will be space on the counter which is perfect for Real and I cannot see anything beyond a minimum two goal away win.
Officially , I will opt for 1.5 units Real Madrid -2.25 ball 2.21 asian line/Sportmarket, but the option is there to hold out for a similar quote for the -2 goal line, the visitors being very strong (best record in La Liga) in the 15 minutes before the end of both halves.
Real are 20-4 ( goals scored-conceded) between the 31st and 45th minute , incuding 10-3 on the road, Rayo have conceded over 26% of home goals through this period, so you could look at taking the visitors late in FH betting. Rayo are also the weakest team defensively through the opening 15 minutes when they have allowed 12 goals, which is far and away the most in La Liga, with only one team conceding more than seven. So Real Madrid -1 ball in first half betting @ 2.26 asian line/Sportmarket (1.25 units), or 2.20-2.375 for them to score over 1.5 first half goals is an option.