Okay, okay – I hear you Paddy Power punters.
I hear that Atlético Madrid are your most-backed La Liga team to win the title.
So you pretty much didn’t care if the Istanbul inhabitants hoisted their ‘Welcome To Hell’ banners when Diego Simeone’s team reached the Galatasaray stadium on Wednesday.
That was Europe. Pah!
But you’d obviously prefer it if Eibar’s inhabitants, players and hotel owners were all ‘hippy peace and love’ and ‘San Fransisco flowers in your hair’ when Atleti go to the Ipurúa stadium on Saturday night [Sky Sports 19.30]
The easier Atleti pocket three points the happier you’re gonna feel. Right?
Three points? Quite possibly.
Peace and love? Ain’t gonna happen baby.
Atleti may be kindly regarded by those with rebel sentiments but they are still a ‘Madrid‘ team travelling to the Basque country.
Up there you don’t just get another notch on the bed post for sticking it to any team from the Spanish capital – you get a diamond-encrusted king-sized, four poster with a nubile young chambermaid awaiting your orders. Ribena or Rioja I mean.
Eibar’s right sided midfielder Keko began at Atleti and knows what’s awaiting his former club.
“With coach Mendilibar every one of us knows there’s a single obligation if we want to be picked. “We have to snarl and bite and run like dogs of war. “The day any of us wants the ball to feet or thinks we can play luxury football they’ll be dropped and we’ll lose”
Right now, the world seems upside down.
Atleti, league winners in 2014, Champions League finalists that same month and trophy- winners every single season since 2009/10 are sixth to Eibar’s fifth.
Unlike Cholo Simeone’s team the Basques are unbeaten and Eibar also have the better goal difference.
But since Eibar repaired their pitch, which was like the Somme, good teams go there, feel unstressed in front of what is [since a couple of weeks ago] a 6,000 maximum crowd and knock the ball about.
Meaning Eibar have a task on their hands.
Antoine Griezmann remains a right good guy to back for both first goal and any-time. Jackson Martinez, too, merits some any-time action.
Buzzing with form given freedom to roam across the front line Griezmann got two in Istanbul in midweek – both off his left foot. [As have 9 of the Frenchman’s last 11 goals been. Hint hint]
Eibar are a cracking story, represent great values – but have their work cut out.
Barça, now here’s a shock, profile as a home banker [19.30 Sunday, Sky Sports]
They host Levante, popularly known as the Frogs, who are knee-deep in trouble here.
Geddit? Knee-deep, knee-deep. Frog noises. Okay, never mind.
The Spanish and European champions were much more vulnerable to shocks at home than away last season.
Not only did they lose to Celta and Málaga at the Camp Nou they lost to nil, too [0-1 and 0-1]
Luis Enrique’s team still start without Claudio Bravo, Dani Alves, Gerard Piqué and Rafinha and come off the back of consecutive tiring, testing away matches in Madrid and Rome.
But that should be a question of the win margin, not whether Barcelona triumph.
Every so often the Catalans find this lot a bit indigestible and the margin ends in a single goal.
Far more often it’s a walloping.
Of the last five Levante visits to the Camp Nou Barcelona have scored five twice, seven once – but the others have been 1-0 and 2-1.
Here’s a stat to help you make your decision.
In their seven competitive matches so far Barça have hit the woodwork SEVEN times.
An indication of sloppiness/bad luck? Or that they are just about to punch someone’s lights out goal-wise?
The ‘villains’ have been Rafinha, Pedro, Piqué, Sergi Roberto, Mascherano, Luis Suárez and Messi.
Perm between the Argentinian, Neymar and Suárez for first goal – but I’ve a slight preference for Suárez this time out because he’s bursting with form and confidence while both Neymar and Messi gave evidence, in Rome, that jet lag from the international break still wasn’t out of their systems.
Madrid host Granada early on Saturday [15:00 kick off UK time] and they will win. By 3+.
James Rodríguez, Gareth Bale, Sergio Ramos and Danilo all out injured isn’t a happy stat if you fancy Madrid to rack up five or six goals.
But back Rafa’s boys to win, back them by three or more and back Ronaldo for everything short of the Labour leadership.
Eight goals in his last two games is nothing. Last season he smacked 20 in eleven Liga outings and just five months ago he pumped Granada for five in a 9-1 win in this fixture.
Griezmann, Jackson, Suárez, Messi, Ronaldo for first goalscorer or any time scorer; left footed goal from Griezmann; one goal win for Atleti; Barça and Madrid to win by over two and over three respectively. You’re welcome.