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Soccernet Quiniela - Week 7 - Quiniela Busters

October 22, 2010
By Eduardo Alvarez
(Archive)

Based on endless seasons of analysis and study, this column can safely differentiate between two types of quiniela busters. The first variation includes Barcelona or Real Madrid playing against any team in the bottom half of the table, and not getting the overly expected three points.

Last weekend provided us with an excellent example of the second type: a solid squad in their home turf hosts a consistently poor away side and lose. Against all odds, including mine, Espanyol defeated Mallorca in the beautiful island, winning their first away match of the season against a team that was so far undefeated at Son Moix.

Last season, Espanyol only managed two away wins, while Mallorca only lost once at their own stadium. And even though all possible stats looked against the periquitos, they got a courageous win despite having lost his striker Osvaldo in the 35th minute of the first half.

The question is: how can we spot these quiniela busters? I am not really sure, but I'll take my chances every week. From now on, this column will choose our weekly quiniela buster and that's that.

Let's start. As usual, it's '1' for a home win, 'X' for a draw and '2' for an away win.

1. Zaragoza (20th) - Barcelona (3rd): 2.

Andres Iniesta equalises for Barcelona against Valencia.
GettyImagesAndres Iniesta equalised for Barcelona against Valencia.

Do you want to read positive news about Zaragoza? Then you'll have to go back at least four months in your search. After seven matches, the bottom-of-the-table manos have no wins to their name. On Thursday, gaffer Jose Aurelio Gay asked centre-back Matteo Contini to leave their training session before time due to his 'lack of attitude and effort'. And here comes Mr Lionel Messi, who arguably played his most impressive La Liga match and scored his best goal ever last season at La Romareda.

Barcelona have had difficulties to keep their consistency during whole matches, especially at the Camp Nou. However, their away record is perfect, and it seems safe to say they won't mess it up (no pun intended) against the 20th team of the tournament.

2. Real Madrid (1st) - Racing de Santander (16th): 1.

Are you familiar with the expression 'easy schedule'? Real Madrid's calendar take it to new heights (or lows) this season. Out of their first seven competitors, six are already in the lower half of the table, the only exception being Espanyol, their equipo hermano (brother team). And if, at least on paper, Milan looked like a serious challenge on Wednesday, the hyped-up merengues will host the well-mannered Racing at the Bernabeu on Saturday.

Plenty of time, or so it looks, for Jose Mourinho to define his base team, reinforce their already impressive defensive structure, and recover CR7 for the cause, as rightly pointed out by Phil Ball on Monday. November will come, and Atletico, Athletic and Barcelona will test how consistent the madridistas really are.

3. Valencia (4th) - Mallorca (11th): 1.

Not a good last few days for Valencia. Last Sunday they allowed Barcelona to come back from almost certain death, and then only an utterly amazing display from goalie Cesar Sanchez saved them from a sure defeat in Glasgow.

Time to get their swagger back. Bipolar Mallorca, able to draw at the Camp Nou and then lose to Espanyol at home, have only won in one of their 23 visits to Mestalla. Even taking into account the impressive form of keeper Dudu Aouate, another defeat seems certain.

4. Getafe (9th) - Sporting de Gijon (12th): 1.

Last time Getafe laid an egg in a midweek Europa League match, they answered with a resounding win in their following La Liga game. That probably had to do with the fact that coach Michel had rested a few key players for the national competition. Incidentally, that is exactly what happened this week in Getafe's awful Thursday night outing in Stuttgart.

Therefore, the blue squad will recover midfielders Parejo and Boateng, fresh and hungry, to welcome Sporting de Gijon, who are far from consistent when it comes to playing away from El Molinon. Easy home victory.

5. Osasuna (18th) - Malaga (14th): 2.

Real Madrid
GettyImagesReal Madrid put on a show last week and will expect to do the same at home on Saturday

Something is rotten in Pamplona. We've grown used to see fickle fans from top clubs turn on their players and / or coaches, but that was never the case with the devoted Osasuna crowd until the convoluted beginning of this season.

Not even their team's decent but unlucky match away at La Coruna relaxed the atmosphere up North. This week, Osasuna's supporters kept demanding coach Jose Antonio Camacho's head in internet forums and training sessions. Malaga will arrive in Pamplona with a deadly front line and the advantage of the huge local pressure on their own team if things start the wrong way.

6. Almería (17th) - Hercules (10th): 1.

You could probably copy the rationale for match No. 5, replace 'Pamplona' and 'Osasuna' with 'Almería', 'Camacho' with 'Lillo', and paste it here. However, Hercules are not as dangerous as Malaga away from their stadium, while Almería have slightly more talent from their midfield upwards. They'll grind out a home win and guarantee that Lillo stays on the bench for at least another week.

7. Espanyol (6th) - Levante (13th): 2.

And just when you thought that this column was going to ride Espanyol's bandwagon for at least one week, here they are at the wrong end of a quiniela buster. The periquitos have won three out of three at home, come from the aforementioned unexpected victory in Mallorca, and have a fantastic chance to get closer to Champions League spots.

However, they'll miss Osvaldo, their best striker, and will certainly experience the noticeable improvement of Levante, who have won eight of the last twelve points and are a tough nut to crack. My choice for quiniela buster of the week.

8. Sevilla (7th) - Athletic de Bilbao (8th): X.

The 'Manzano Effect' surprisingly came to a screeching halt last weekend in Gijon, but seems to have resuscitated with the sevillistas away win against Ukrainian side Karpaty. Slowly but surely, Manzano is getting to know the squad and making his choices, and centre-back Martín Caceres, on loan from Barcelona, seems to be one of them.

Visitors Athletic have not won at the Sanchez Pizjuan since 1997, which sounds like a bad omen. However, Sevilla's two consecutive away matches should take their toll on Manzano's team. Let's go for an 'X' to avoid further arguments.

9. Villarreal (2nd) - Atletico de Madrid (5th): 1.

Sergio Aguero
GettyImagesSergio Aguero: Star striker returns.

In recent years, this match has become a mortal lock for goals and fun galore. On top of that, both teams arrive indeed invigorated by much needed Europa League wins, and in the case of Atletico, by the long-awaited comeback of Kun Aguero, who appeared to be back in full shape in their victory against Rosenborg.

However, Villarreal's consistency so far and their perfect home record grant them the 'favourites' tag. Atletico have been disappointing, to say the least, in their last few trips, therefore let's go for a conservative '1'.

10. Real Sociedad (16th) - Deportivo de La Coruna (19th): 1.

Assuming you've been reading this column since the beginning of the season, you're probably aware of an almost unquestionable fact: Deportivo can't score. Fortunately, coach Lotina seems to have understood this at last. On Wednesday, he admitted that 'I have been trying to make the team play like Barcelona, only we can't keep possession or create chances like they do' (really, this is the quote of the year so far).

Even if Lotina has fallen from his horse and seen the light, it's still early to see his brand new, more direct approach bear results. They'll be easy prey for Real Sociedad to jump a few spots up in the table.

Use this easy 'Copy and Paste' summary to write your own quiniela and share it with us in the 'Comments' section.

1. Zaragoza (20th) - Barcelona (3rd): 2.
2. Real Madrid (1st) - Racing de Santander (16th): 1.
3. Valencia (4th) - Mallorca (11th): 1.
4. Getafe (9th) - Sporting de Gijon (12th): 1.
5. Osasuna (18th) - Malaga (14th): 2.
6. Almería (17th) - Hercules (10th): 1.
7. Espanyol (6th) - Levante (13th): 2.
8. Sevilla (7th) - Athletic de Bilbao (8th): X.
9. Villarreal (2nd) - Atletico de Madrid (5th): 1.
10. Real Sociedad (16th) - Deportivo de La Coruna (19th): 1.

Last week: 5/10 (50%) Season: 31/60 (51%)