Just two weeks into the ’21-22 La Liga season, only two clubs remain undefeated. And in truly shocking news, neither of them are Real Madrid or Barcelona. Instead, it’s Atletico Madrid and Sevilla who sit atop the table. As it turns out, losing your coach and two best defenders (Real Madrid) or the best player in soccer history (Barcelona) means you just might hit a speed bump or two out of the gate.
Sure enough, Barcelona dropped points last weekend, drawing Athletic Club, while Real Madrid had to settle for one point after giving up three goals to Levante.
Atleti and Sevilla on the other hand, certainly haven’t cruised, but they’ve captured every point available. And interestingly, they continue to improve their rosters, which is possible to do without spending a fortune.*
After adding Erik Lamela from Tottenham, Rafa Mir from Wolves and Gonzalo Montiel from River Plater over the summer, Sevilla just acquired Thomas Delaney from Borussia Dortmund. Monchi remains a genius. Atleti, on the other hand, just signed forward Matheus Cunha from Hertha Berlin for around 25 million euros, giving Diego Simeone another option up top.
*Yes, I’m referring to the craziness surrounding Real Madrid-Kylian Mbappe and Cristiano Ronaldo-ManU/Man City/any other team with apparently endless $.
La Liga Matchday 03 Preview
Atleti and Real Madrid are both -125 this weekend, which indicates that Real Madrid’s trip to Real Betis and Atleti’s home battle with Villarreal will be stiff tests. Barcelona (hosting Getafe) and Sevilla (at Elche) are not expected to struggle.
- Elche (+425) vs. Sevilla (-130) Saturday, 1:30 p.m. Eastern
- Real Betis (+310) vs. Real Madrid (-115) Saturday, 4 p.m.
- Barcelona (-255) vs. Getafe (+750) Sunday, 11 a.m.
- Atleti (-130) vs. Villarreal (+425) Sunday, 4 p.m.
La Liga Matchday 03 Odds & Ends
- As far as the money-line options go, I like Atleti (-130) at home vs. Villarreal the most of the games involving Spain’s big four. While Villarreal is a pot 1 Champions League club after winning the ’20-21 Europa League, it’s also a side that finished seventh in the league last year. Villarreal has opened the ’21-22 campaign with 0-0 draws against Granada and promoted side Espanyol.
- In case the above didn’t give this away, I also like Atleti to keep a clean sheet, so Both Teams To Score – No (-140) should have your attention.
- Is it just me or is Atleti -1.5 (+240) worth a look as well? That might be aggressive, but I do expect Atleti -.5 (-130) to cash.
- Elche, like Villarreal, is yet to score this year, so Sevilla -150 feels advisable.
- Under 2.5 Goals (-155) is another good idea in this one.
Real Betis-Real Madrid
• Suddenly free-wheeling Los Blancos have seven goals through two games this season. Their combination of an improved offense and a currently shaky defense makes Over 2.5 (-150) a safe bet. Over 3.5 (+165) is also tempting.
• I don’t have much of a read on this one after Barcelona opened its season with a great debut and a very troubling follow-up. But Getafe is a tough team to blow out, so Getafe +1.5 (-140), if anything, is the move here.
La Liga teams get a break for World Cup qualifiers after this weekend. That means we should see all-out efforts, especially from Real Madrid and Barcelona. Both teams have plenty of issues as they continue to get accustomed to their new rosters, and the last thing they need is to be trailing Atleti and/or Sevilla by more than a few points after only three matchdays.
Atleti-Villarreal feels like the best game of the weekend, but Real Madrid is playing very chaotic and entertaining soccer right now, so they’re worth your attention as well. Barcelona-Getafe promises to be incredibly physical, if we know anything about Getafe. And the way Barcelona dealt with physicality against Athletic Club last week will only make teams more inclined to try to push the Catalans around. So if you’re into fouls and cards, that’s the one to prioritize.
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