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With the Catalans showing great improvement under their new manager, our Spanish expert Phil Kitromilides believes backing the hosts is where the smart money will go

These two sides end 2012 with a genuine relegation six-pointer as bottom of the table Deportivo travel to the side directly above them, Espanyol.

Under new coach Javier Aguirre, the Catalans have picked up three successive draws, although Sunday's 2-2 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu against Real Madrid felt more like a win.

William Hill price Espanyol at 5/6 (1.83) to claim the first victory of Aguirre's tenure, while Deportivo can be backed at 16/5 (4.20) to end their run of seven matches without a win. The draw is offered at 13/5 (3.60).

The momentum therefore is with Espanyol and anyone who saw their performance against Real Madrid will be aware that this is a side capable of playing some attractive and effective football.

In Sergio Garcia they possess a number nine who, on his day, can terrorise even the sternest of defences, as proved by his stunning goal and overall showing at the Bernabeu.

Having returned from a four-match ban and opened his account against the champions, Garcia will be keen to put in another decent performance and the price of 6/5 (2.20) for him to score at any time looks extremely attractive.

With Garcia hitting form and captain Joan Verdu pulling the strings in midfield, Espanyol certainly inspire more confidence than a beleaguered Deportivo side, who were thrashed 6-0 in their last away game at Atletico Madrid.

While Espanyol do not have the same firepower as Atleti, they should be backed to beat a team who have won just one of their last 17 matches.

For a value bet try backing Garcia to open the scoring at 9/2 (5.50) - just like he did on Sunday in spectacular fashion.

BET
OF THE
DAY
BEST BET
VALUE BET
Espanyol to win at 5/6 (1.83) with William Hill
Sergio Garcia to score first at 9/2 (5.50) with William Hill

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Phil Kitromilides is a sports broadcaster working on radio and TV in London and Madrid. You can also follow Phil on Twitter.

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