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GRAHAM HUNTER: They’ve room to improve but bank on Real Madrid and Barcelona this weekend

La Liga expert and man who probably doesn't want us to call us him a La Liga expert, Graham Hunter runs the rule over Sunday's big games in Spain

by Graham Hunter | February 21, 2015

Graham’s quick-firebets:

    • Real Sociedad to win 2-1 – 9/1
    • Cristiano Ronaldo to score and Real to win – 8/11

    Real Sociedad v Sevilla – Sunday 11am

    Well now. David Moyes has a fan in Valencia owner Peter Lim and here’s a chance for the Scot to do the Singaporean a favour by defeating the fifth-placed side – Valencia’s main Champions League rivals.
    La Real have been working hard this week. There have been a couple of double training sessions, the first of which prevented Moyes from going back to Lancashire and expert-analysing the Preston North End v Manchester United FA Cup tie on Monday night.


    What La Real did NOT have was a testing and draining Europa League tie on Thursday night followed by the long trip up north from Andalusia to the Basque Country and then a Sunday midday kick off. More, Sevilla’s Europa League tie with Borussia Moenchengladbach is now delicately balanced at 1-0 and the defending champions prize retaining the trophy very, very highly. Second leg next week – could some of Unai Emery’s men have the match in Germany as a higher priority than this one?

    Perhaps, just perhaps, all this narrows the gap between the two sides slightly. Grzegorz Krychowiak, a titan for Sevilla in recent weeks, is suspended for his red card last week. Iborra might be worth looking at for a goal – he’s got himself in a cartload of scoring positions over the last few games.

    So, make your own careful judgments but with Canales, Chory Prieto, Granero and Agirretxe all looking in form there’s a hint that La Real could take advantage of the situation and finally notch a win [there’s only been one of them since beating Barcelona on January 4]. IF you back them and they are ahead with ten minutes left mebbe Cash Out, there’s a long history of La Real letting a result slip away in the late stages of games this season.

    • Graham’s Bet: Real Sociedad to win 2-1

    Elche v Real Madrid – Sunday 8pm

    ‘I’d like a piece of their crisis!’ was the tone of the Elche coach’s press conference before this match.

    Asked, legitimately enough, whether this was the best time of the season to be hosting Madrid, Fran Escribá was invited to move away from the wall but didn’t want to dance. Elche have put two wins together on the trot when, previously, they looked like they couldn’t even spell the word if you gave them w_n as a starter clue.

    Carlo Ancelotti

    Los Blancos have lost three times this year and Carlo Ancelotti found himself, as per usual with this brutally demanding club, bang in the middle of a hurricane of doubts and criticism. But his rival this Sunday pointed out:

    “They’ve one foot in the Champions League quarter final where they are defending champions, they are still league leaders and they just became World Club champions. That’s a very ‘Real Madrid’ kind of crisis”

    Escribá looks like a talent. His “dream” is to go back and manage Atlético on his own [where he was assistant to Quique Sanchez Flores], so this is something of a job audition for the future. “It’s a good moment to face Madrid firstly because of how we are playing, with confidence. “Two months ago it’s possible that the players and people around the club might have said that an ‘honourable defeat’ was acceptable against Madrid. “Now my players feel strong – capable of winning”

    Nice little atmosphere brewing – Elche are the ninth-best supported club in La Liga this season. Madrid will need to be up for it. If you back ‘shocks’ look at their hustle-bustle striker Jonathas and their dancing-feet winger Garry Rodrigues. Me? I think Madrid aren’t near their best yet but they are shaking off their lethargy and they won here last season in the 90th minute (1-2) thanks to Ronaldo. Something similar this time – Ronaldo and mebbe Isco? Ps: think there’s a Bale goal coming because he’s begun to work a good deal harder.

    • Graham’s Bet: Cristiano Ronaldo to score and Real to win – 8/11
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