La Liga Betting Preview: Barcelona odds on to retain Spanish title
It is the usual suspects at the head of the betting for the 2011/12 La Liga season as defending champions Barcelona and last year's runners up Real Madrid lead the way. It looks set to be a two horse race again (assuming the recent player strikes can be averted) with Barca 4/7 favourites with Paddy Power bookmakers, while Real are available at 11/8.
Both sides have strengthened during the summer and Barcelona struck an early blow by winning the two-legged Spanish Super Cup. It was an enthralling clash as Real looked as though they might have closed the gap on their bitter rivals, although they still have some way to go to actually overcome them.
Barca have added Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas to their ranks, while Real have also been busy in the transfer market as manager Jose Mourinho looks to improve on his impressive record of six league titles in nine seasons as a manager.
With so little value to be found in who will win La Liga, it could be a good idea to look at other betting markets. Unsurprisingly it is Barca and Madrid players who dominate the betting to be top scorer, with Cristiano Ronaldo 2/1 favourite after scoring 40 goals in 34 appearances last term, while Lionel Messi is a 5/2 punt after he scored 31 in 33 last year. An interesting punt could come in the form of Real's Karim Benzema at 12/1 as the Frenchman scored 26 goals last year and he has looked in exceptional form during pre-season.
Another market that could provide interest is who will win the league 'without Barcelona and Real Madrid'. Valencia are the 5/2 favourites with PaddyPower after finishing third for the past two seasons, although they are likely to lose Juan Mata to Chelsea and they have endured a summer of change.
Atletico Madrid are the next best at 4/1, although they could only manage a seventh place finish last season and they have lost two of their most inspirational players to the Premier League as Sergio Aguero has moved to Man City and David de Gea to Man United. With Diego Forlan also likely to leave, they face a tough task to finish third.
Malaga join Atletico at 4/1 in the 'without Barca and Real' market as they continue to build following the takeover by the wealthy Sheik Abdullah bin Nasser al Thani. They have spent €50m over the summer, as Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Joaquin join the influential Julio Baptiste, and they could offer an interesting side story this year.
Meanwhile, Sevilla can be backed at 5/1 with PaddyPower.com as they begin life under new manager Marcelino. They have managed to keep hold of Fredi Kanoute, who is idolised by the Sevilla fans, and have finished in the top five for the past seven years, so they could offer decent value.
At the other end of the table, Granada are 4/7 on to be relegated after being promoted to the top flight for the first time in 31 years via the play-offs. Rayo Vallecano are well backed to go down at 8/13 after losing half of their team, while Levante (9/4) have the lowest budget in the division and could struggle after losing several players, including top scorer Felipe Calceido.
La Liga Season 2011/12 Tips
Tip #1: Sevilla to win La Liga 'without Barcelona and Real Madrid' @ 5/1 with PaddyPower.com
Tip #2: Karim Benzema to be top La Liga scorer @ 12/1 with PaddyPower.com
Tip #3: Levante to be relegated @ 9/4 with PaddyPower.com
La Liga Season 2011/12 Betting
La Liga Winner Betting
11/8 Real Madrid
La Liga winner 'without Barcelona and Real Madrid' Betting
4/1 Atletico Madrid
12/1 Athletic Bilbao
La Liga Relegation Betting
8/13 Rayo Vallecano
5/1 Real Betis
La Liga Top Goalscorer Betting
7/4 Cristiano Ronaldo
9/4 Lionel Messi
9/1 David Villa
9/1 Gonzalo Higuain
10/1 Karim Benzema
All odds provided by PaddyPower.com, who provide a variety of odds and betting markets for the 2011/12 La Liga season.
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