Real Madrid has made a strong start to 2022 and is on course for another league title. Can anyone stop them?
Who do Bettors Favor?
La Liga fans checking out the best online sportsbooks this month will see that Real Madrid has strengthened their grip on the title race. They are significantly favored in futures betting markets, with a six-point lead over Sevilla, their closest rivals. After Sevilla in the betting markets come the reigning champions Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, though both are way off the pace, particularly fifth-placed Atletico who can be backed at +4000.
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Betting on the Spanish League Winner
The confused picture of the early season has been replaced by something more familiar as Real Madrid has continued to extend their lead at the top of La Liga, powered by the goals of Karim Benzema and Vicinius, and guided by the experience of Carlo Ancelloti.
Their form has not been perfect and they have dropped points against Getafe and Elche, but their last realistic rival, Sevilla, has not been able to keep up the pressure and that has enabled Real to increase their lead. Julen Lopetegui’s side had the chance to close the gap to just two points but they failed to take advantage of their game in hand, and are showing signs of weakening under the pressure.
Sevilla is still hard to beat, but they have developed an unfortunate draw habit, and that has made it hard to keep pace with the league leaders. Still, their defensive resilience remains notable and while they are obviously up against it, their current odds still look too high. They still have a home game against the league leaders to come and I’m not quite ready to desert them yet.
La Liga Top Four Futures Betting
Rarely has a reigning champion made such a poor attempt to retain their title as Atletico Madrid in 2021/22. Diego Simeone’s side seemed to be back on course in the autumn after a slow start but four defeats in December derailed their challenge and they haven’t recovered. At this point, they don’t even look a good bet for the top four.
The same cannot be said of Barcelona, who have continued to improve, albeit slowly, under Xavi. There is still much work to be done, but having broken into the top four, I don’t expect them to slip out again. That doesn’t leave much for bettors to work with, however, as they are unlikely to be able to catch Real at the top, while their odds on a top-four spot are tiny.
Real Betis are still in the top four but their position is looking precarious and they seem to have lost their way, so if you’re looking for an outsider to make the top four, Unai Emery’s Villarreal could be the answer. Their home form is particularly impressive and a recent win over Betis was a major boost.
La Liga Relegation Betting
At the bottom of the table, relegation seems confirmed for Levante, who are 12 points short of safety and showing no signs of improvement, despite being on their third manager of the season.
Immediately above Levante are Alaves, who have shown the ability to pick up an occasional battling point here and there, but that isn’t going to be enough to pull them out of danger, while Cadiz fans were dealt a blow when their team lost to Mallorca recently.
Mallorca is now five points clear of the relegation zone, with a game in hand over Cadiz, and while they may yet get dragged back into the struggle, their odds in the relegation futures market no longer represent value. Granada is another team that could be vulnerable, having failed to win a game so far in 2022, but sportsbooks are taking no chances and they don’t look at a good bet either at +450.
Benzema on Course for Golden Boot
Real Madrid is proving just as dominant in the top scorers market as they are in the league, with Karim Benzema leading the way and Vinicius Junior in joint second.
Benzema has a five-goal lead on his rivals, and at this point, the only injury is likely to stop him from claiming the Golden Boot. If Barcelona continues their improvement, Memphis Depay might be able to get into the conversation, but he has nine goals to make up on Benzema and that looks too big a gap.
The only angle that might be worth looking into is in betting on Vinicius Junior if you think that Benzema may find the demands of a long season catching up with him over the next few weeks. It would require a significant absence for the younger man to close the gap, but there could be some value in betting on Vinicius at the current odds.
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