La Liga: Is Barca the Best in Europe?

Barcelona vs Real Sociedad

It’s certainly starting to look that way. Barcelona is on the march to another La Liga title as they head into the weekend nine points clear of Atletico Madrid.

This time, it’s Real Sociedad’s turn to try to stop the Catalans’ inevitable march to another league triumph. With Real Madrid never once threatening to make an assault on the top of the table this season, when Barca beat Atleti recently the race was almost over.

And while the biggest teams in Europe have been dropping out of the Champions League like flies, Ernesto Valverde’s men are still in that competition as it reaches its climax. Win that trophy and there will be no argument. Barca will be confirmed as the best in Europe.

So step up Sociedad and do your worst! This is bound to be another great game for us La Liga fans to enjoy, and with a near guarantee of goals.

Talking Points

Barca’s Treble bid

All the talk in the UK has been around Manchester City’s quadruple hopes, but former Barca boss Pep Guardiola can only watch his former club in Europe after the Sky Blues exited the Champions League in defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. And the English champions have followed FC Bayern, Juventus and PSG to a European disappointment, so Barca is the last big man standing, with apologies to Liverpool, Ajax and Spurs!

By far the most prolific strike partnership in Spanish football, Leo Messi and Luis Suarez has been in frightening form all season and with their Champions League semi-final place safely in the bag, I don’t expect Valverde to rest too many players.

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After being held 0-0 away to bottom club Huesca, the Blaugrana put on a brilliant performance against Manchester United to advance in the Champions League. Messi called the shots again with two goals in the first 20 minutes on Tuesday night at the Camp Nou, before Philippe Coutinho added a third in a 4-0 aggregate win, while goalkeeper Ter Stegen had a nice quiet evening.

Barca is also through to the May Copa del Rey final against Valencia, after dumping Los Blancos in spectacular fashion in the semi-finals.

At the moment they look unstoppable.

Sociedad can beat the best

But I hope Real Sociedad will have a real go. Head coach Imanol Alguacil has the players to take on the top sides in the league on their day, beating Real Madrid at the Bernabeu earlier in the season. And, comfortably in tenth placed and with little to worry about, the visitors can play with freedom and enjoy their day out at the Camp Nou.

Sociedad has just one win in the last six but is scoring pretty regularly and has an outside chance of reaching the seventh place, but there are a lot of teams grouped together and Alguacil’s team needs to turn draws into wins if they are to progress. They have drawn three of the last five.

Juanmi was on target in the first minute of a 1-1 stalemate with Eibar last week, and

21-year old striker Mikel Oyarzabal has impressed for Sociedad this season, scoring 12 goals, while Willian Jose has 10. They will hope to give Ter Stegen a busier time than he had against Manchester United.

Mikel Oyarzabal has now 12 goals in La Liga

Spanish forward Mikel Oyarzabal in action for Real Sociedad

History

The head to head Barca vs Real Sociedad results don’t give the visitors much encouragement though. Barca has won 31 of the meetings while Sociedad has managed just eight victories and there have been ten draws in the last 49 clashes. And Real Sociedad hasn’t won any of the last six games against the Blaugrana.

But the Barca players didn’t have it all their own way in a narrow 1-2 win away to Sociedad early in the season and will be wary of their opponents’ cutting edge. Real Sociedad hasn’t won in any of their last seven away fixtures though, and Barcelona hasn’t lost in 20, in all competitions.

Betting Tip

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Barcelona vs Real Sociedad Barcelona -1.75 @ 1.83
April 21, 02:45 (GMT+8)

It’s no surprise then that the latest Barca vs Real Sociedad betting odds point to a convincing home win. With Luis Suarez and Leo Messi in such devastating form, I wouldn’t bet against both of them getting on the score sheet against Sociedad.

The visitors are at odds of 2.13 to win with that -1.75 handicap, and I think for that bet to be winnable, they might well need to score a goal, so Oyarzabal is the man to watch there.

But if you fancy this could be a stroll in the park against mid-table opposition who might just be heading for the beach, then a 3-0 home win at 8.25 might catch your eye!

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Klopp aims to find Barca flaws

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says he will try to find some useful clues as to how his side can defeat Barcelona in the semi-finals of the Champions League.

The Reds roared through to the last four with a 4-1 win at FC Porto, with the Merseysiders claiming a 6-1 aggregate success to move one step closer to repeating their run to the final of the competition last season.

And Klopp is hoping that watching how others team have tried to tame Barca, who knocked out Manchester United in the quarter-finals, will be of some benefit to his players.

He told his post-match press briefing: "We are in the semi-final, we play against Barcelona, you can imagine I don't think too much about it, but I'm really happy about the fact that we play them.

"We will find things where we think we probably could use it or whatever. So many teams who tried it already and maybe we find something.

"I'm looking forward to it, it's brilliant. The news that there's a competition, a proper football game between Barcelona and Liverpool, I think that's really good news.

"I'm happy for all the people in the club that it's like this; second time in two years in the semi-final. That's a big statement.

"However you go there (to Barcelona), it's difficult. Everybody tries it and nobody did it (won there) in the last two years."

Liverpool are available at 5/2 to win the Champions League this season, with Barcelona priced at 6/4 and Ajax 9/2.

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Spurs belief impresses Pochettino

Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino hailed the character of his team after they reached the Champions League semi-finals at the expense of Manchester City.

Spurs were beaten 4-3 in the second leg of their quarter-final at the Etihad Stadium, but a 1-0 win in the first leg meant that they progressed on away goals, with a Fernando Llorente strike in Manchester eventually proving to be crucial.

And Pochettino was clearly emotional after watching his team in action and setting up a last-four showdown with Ajax, who have knocked out both Real Madrid and Juventus on their way to the semi-finals.

He told reporters: "I am more than happy, I am more than proud. To be in the semis was a dream, now we are there.

"(It is) one of the most important times in my career like a manager, of course, one of the best.

"Sport always gives you the possibility to beat teams that no-one believes or thinks we are capable of (beating).

"Football is not only about talent, but belief and to have the right mentality. This team has the personality, character and mentality to believe all is possible.

"With the quality, we can have this type of performance and achieve these big things. If not, it's impossible."

The second Champions League semi-final sees Liverpool take on Barcelona, with the Reds having won 4-1 at Porto to complete a 6-1 aggregate victory in their last-eight tie.

Liverpool are priced at 5/2 to win the Champions League, with Tottenham 9/2 and Barcelona 6/4.

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Champions League: Messi Leads Demolition of Man United

Barcelona 3-0 (4-0 on agg.) Manchester United

Manchester United produced one of the most memorable comebacks in Champions League history at the Camp Nou back in 1999. But Lionel Messi and Barcelona made sure there was no such magical comeback this time around as the Catalans knocked out the Red Devils in dominant fashion.

Wonderful strikes from Messi and Philippe Coutinho — as well as an uncharacteristic David De Gea howler — comfortably saw Barca through to their first semi-final in four years.

Most Barcelona vs Manchester United predictions strongly tipped the Spanish giants to go through, and they were proven right. Much like in the first leg, they were simply a class above United at the Camp Nou.

Highlights of the game

United began their amazing second-leg comeback against PSG by scoring within just two minutes. And they very nearly scored even earlier at the Camp Nou as Paul Pogba sent Marcus Rashford through on goal just half a minute into the match.

However, the United youngster couldn’t capitalise on that glorious opportunity to level the tie as his effort struck the bar.

Rashford had another effort in the 14th minute as he made a determined run at the Barca backline from his own half. But his shot was tame and was easily saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Just a couple of minutes later, though, Lionel Messi showed Rashford and United how to finish at this level. After Barca’s press dispossessed Ashley Young, Messi picked the ball up just on the edge of the penalty area, cut inside to his magical left foot, and expertly curled his shot past the diving David De Gea.

Manchester United's David de Gea has failed to hinder Barcelona from winning in recent Champions League game

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea looks defeated after Barcelona scored a goal in their Champions League quarter-final match

Messi doubled Barcelona’s lead just four minutes later. His right-footed strike was nowhere near as fierce as his first goal, but instead of making what should have been a routine save, De Gea allowed the ball to slip underneath his body and into the net. Game over.

Messi had a couple of opportunities to complete his hat-trick in the first half, but two of his strikes went well over the bar. Messi then turned provider as his free-kick found Ivan Rakitic, but De Gea was equal to the Croatian’s header.

The Argentine also played a crucial part in Barca’s wonderful move in first-half stoppage time as he found Jordi Alba marauding into United’s penalty area. The Spaniard crossed to Barca’s other full-back, Sergi Roberto, but his shot was somehow denied by De Gea.

Barca continued their assault on the United goal after half-time, with a Messi strike at the edge of the box deflected wide by Ashley Young.

But the hosts finally hammered the final nail in United’s coffin at just over the hour mark care of Philippe Coutinho. The former Liverpool man uncorked one of his trademark top-corner curlers, which should easily make its way in the list of top Champions League 2019 highlights.

The third goal didn’t stop Messi from searching for his hat-trick, though. The Argentine even attempted an audacious overhead kick, but it went just wide.

Alexis Sanchez came the closest to giving United a consolation goal in the 90th minute. But ter Stegen produced a wonderful save to stop the former Barca man’s diving header as United left the Camp Nou empty-handed and eliminated from Europe.

Key statistics

With the win, Barcelona are through to the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since 2015.

Messi’s brace ups his goal tally this year to 45 goals in 42 games. He’s now the Champions League’s top scorer this season with 10 goals.

Messi also snapped his 12-match goal-less drought in the Champions League quarter-finals; his last goal in the last eight came back in 2013.

Tottenham Hotspur Asian Handicap +1.50 @ 2.00 1X2 Manchester City @ 1.32 Total Goals 2-3 @ 2.20 Third Line text CLICK HEREDisclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.Premier League

As for Manchester United, this 4-0 aggregate defeat was their worst ever in a two-legged European tie. That topped their 5-2 defeat against AC Milan in the 1957-58 European Cup semi-final and 4-1 against Atletico Madrid in the last 16 of the 1991-92 Cup Winners’ Cup.

Moreover, they’ve now lost four straight away games in all competitions, the first time that’s happened since 1999. Current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer just so happened to feature in all four of those defeats.

What’s next?

Barcelona will look to take another step toward clinching the La Liga title this weekend as they host mid-table Real Sociedad. They also travel to Deportivo Alaves and host Levante before their semi-final first leg against the winner of the Porto-Liverpool quarter-final.

As for United, their Champions League elimination will now allow them to focus solely on qualification for next year’s tournament. They’re still two points behind fourth-placed Arsenal with five games remaining.

United travel to Merseyside to face Everton this weekend. Then they host City in the Manchester Derby in just over a week’s time. Watch out for the us tips for that massive match, which also has major implications in the Premier League title race.

 

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Valverde focused on Barca show

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde says his side have no intention of sitting back on the one-goal lead they hold over Manchester United in their Champions League quarter-final.

A Luke Shaw own goal settled the first leg of the tie at Old Trafford, leaving Barca seemingly in control heading into the return at the Nou Camp on Tuesday evening.

However, head coach Valverde is well aware that his side need to perform at their best to progress, especially given that United won 3-1 at PSG in the last round to book their place in the last eight.

He told reporters at his pre-match press briefing: "We don't want them to score, but we'll respect our style of play. We want to win the game, that's our objective.

"I think we are all aware that a tough game awaits. They are a good side and so are we. We've got our eyes on our target, which is progressing to the semi-finals.

"All you can do is concentrate on what you think is good for you to do. We're aware of United's threats and we won't let it become an end-to-end game.

"We know the opposition will want to counter-attack, but we won't let that happen by playing well with the ball and moving the ball quickly."

Valverde also confirmed that Lionel Messi has shaken off a slight knock and will feature, while Ousmane Dembele should also play some part after lasting more than an hour of the goalless draw at Huesca at the weekend.

Barca are 1/16 to reach the semi-finals at the expense of the Red Devils, with a home victory on Tuesday priced at 4/11, while Messi can be backed at 1/2 to score at any time in the game.

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Timely return for Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez has been included in Manchester United's squad for Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final second leg at Barcelona.

The Chile international has been sidelined for the last six weeks because of a knee injury.

Matteo Darmian and Nemanja Matic have also been named in the 22-man squad as United attempt to reach the semi-finals of the competition despite losing 1-0 in the first leg at Old Trafford.

Luke Shaw is suspended for the second leg after picking up a yellow card in last week's game against the La Liga leaders.

Meanwhile, Marcus Rashford believes United can cause a major shock by winning at the Nou Camp.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men managed to beat Paris Saint-Germain in the last round despite losing the first leg on home soil 2-0.

An upbeat Rashford said: "We understand as a team that we have to go into the second leg with a positive mind-set and get the job done.

"I think we have to do things more as a team. When they have the ball we have to press, and everyone has to press. When we have the ball and we're attacking then everyone has to be up, so if we lose the ball we can win it back quickly.

"We'll always take confidence from winning in Paris but we also understand that it's not PSG, it's a different match, a different atmosphere, it's a completely different ball game. We go there confident but if we're going to win it's probably going to be different to how we did it in Paris."

United are 9/1 to qualify for the semi-finals and 40/1 to beat Barcelona 2-0 on Tuesday. Meanwhile, they can be backed at 2/1 to finish in the top four of the Premier League this season.

La Liga: What Lies Ahead?

There are just six rounds to go in another fascinating La Liga season, and while we mostly agree who is going to win the league, there are plenty of matters to be settled and we’ll the there right to the end with our us tips and updates.

Barcelona took a stranglehold on the title with a 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid last week and the pre-season La Liga 2019 predictions of the title staying with Barca are looking good as Lionel Messi and Co have built up a nine-point lead.

It would be a shock of epic proportions if Ernesto Valverde’s side was to let that advantage slip.

Kings of Madrid

Outside Catalonia, the biggest La Liga 2019 news is the battle for second place between the two Madrid giants. Both are out of the Champions League, rather earlier than expected so ceding the second spot to the other will represent a disappointing season to the side which finishes third.

Zinedine Zidane has been helicoptered back into the Bernabeu to see out a rocky ride of a season, in which the fans have turned against Gareth Bale as a scapegoat for the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo, from which Los Blancos don’t seem to have recovered. ZZ promises an overhaul in the summer.

It hasn’t all gone smoothly down at the Wanda Metropolitano either. Atleti will have to complete their season without the services of striker Diego Costa after he copped for an eight-match ban when he said something a little too offensive to the referee during the defeat to Barca. But, unlike Real, Diego Simeone’s team has plenty of firepower in the shape of Antoine Griezmann and Alvaro Morata, who were both on target in a 2-0 win over Celta Vigo on Saturday. And, of course, they have the meanest defence in Europe, led by the granite-hard Diego Godin.

Prediction: Atleti will hold off Los Blancos and take the Madrid crown.

La Liga: Can Atletico Madrid bounce back without their key player Diego Costa?

Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa walks off the pitch after receiving a red card during their match against Barcelona

Champions League Race

Sevilla is well in the hunt for that invaluable fourth spot and a hard-fought 3-2 win over Real Betis showcased their attacking options alongside main man Wissam Ben Yedder. Pablo Sarabia, Franco Vazquez and El Haddadi Munir were all on target and Sevilla’s strength in depth will come into play in the final run in.

On paper, Valencia is the strongest team to challenge Sevilla but has two tough games coming up, away to Real Betis and Atletico Madrid. And it has been surprising package Getafe making the running at the moment. Jose Bordalas has his team well organised and the strike partnership of Jorge Molina and Jaime Mata has been fruitful for the Madrid side.

Getafe plays Sevilla next week and that is a huge game.

Deportivo Alaves has fallen away recently after taking just one point from 12 and is one of the teams likely to miss out, and will have to aim for the consolation of a Europa League place, guaranteed for those in fifth and sixth… and there may be a place for seventh. Athletic Bilbao and Real Betis are both in that hunt.

Prediction: Sevilla’s superior squad will grab fourth place.

Relegation Battle

There is a fierce fight raging to stay in the division, with seven teams at risk of landing one of the three unwanted relegation places. Huesca occupies bottom spot but is putting in a spirited effort to stay at the top table, holding Barca, minus Messi, to a goalless draw this weekend. But it will be a big ask for them to survive. The other two places are unclear, with big names Villarreal and Celta Vigo in danger, along with Rayo Vallecano, Real Valladolid and Levante. And moneybags Girona could get sucked into the fight having lost three on the bounce.

Prediction: The Yellow Submarine will rise just in time and Huesca and Rayo Vallecano will be joined by Levante in the drop zone.

Pichichi Trophy

Well, there are no prizes for this one. Lionel Messi’s going to win the Pichichi Trophy for the sixth time and the third in a row and he’s the all-time top scorer in La Liga. Barca’s genius has scored 33 league goals already, 13 ahead of his team-mate Luis Suarez.

And there has to be an honourable mention for Girona’s Cristhian Stuani, who has scored 18 goals despite his side getting pulled into a relegation scrap.

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Champions League: Can Man United Repeat Comeback Magic?

Barcelona vs Manchester United

Manchester United find themselves in a familiar situation in the Champions League quarter-finals. After suffering a first-leg defeat at Old Trafford, United must travel to the Camp Nou to overcome a 1-0 deficit.

Barca had a conservative gameplan in the first leg at Old Trafford, which worked out quite well. United found the Spanish side very tough to break down and did not register a single shot on target. Barcelona are now well-positioned to make the last four of the Champions League for the first time in four years.

The Red Devils already pulled off a huge shock when they overturned a two-goal deficit away from home against Paris Saint-Germain. And 20 years ago, they pulled off one of the most amazing comebacks in Champions League history at the Camp Nou.

But as the Barcelona vs Manchester United betting odds indicate, coming up with another epic away result will be a monumental task, to say the least.

Talking Points

Messi, Barca well-rested

As expected, Barcelona had Manchester United and the Champions League on their mind over the weekend. Manager Ernesto Valverde made wholesale changes for their trip to Huesca, which resulted in a 0-0 draw.

Lionel Messi — who was left bloodied after a collision with United defender Chris Smalling in the first leg — was rested, along with Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, Ivan Rakitic, and Gerard Pique. All of those stars should be back in the line-up for United’s visit to the Camp Nou, though.

Messi has been in simply stunning form of late, scoring 13 goals with four assists in his last 10 games for Barca. While his face will be worse for wear no thanks to Smalling, his legs should be fresh and ready to go after getting some much-needed rest.

Barca clearly didn’t bother exerting themselves too hard in the first leg, and thanks to United’s lack of cutting edge, they didn’t need to. But now that they’re at home, they should adopt a somewhat more aggressive approach.

The Camp Nou has been a fortress all season long. They’ve lost just once in 24 home games in all competitions, and that one setback came all the way back in November. They’ve also scored in each and every one of those games.

Solskjaer magic spell wearing off

Manchester United may have picked up a win against West Ham United over the weekend, but once again, they were far from convincing. That has been the worrying trend for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad over the past few weeks.

Prior to their win over West Ham, they had lost four of their previous five games — twice against Wolverhampton Wanderers. And in their one win during that span against Watford, they were outshot, 20-8.

There’s a growing sense that the Solskjaer’s new manager magic has finally worn off. The attack hasn’t looked as fluid as it did when he first took over. Meanwhile, the defence continues to be a problem; United haven’t had a clean sheet in their last nine games.

Preventing Barcelona from scoring at the Camp Nou will obviously be tough. Although, United are still dangerous on the counter-attack and could have more opportunities to break if Barca commit more players forward at home.

United have lost their last three away games in all competitions. Their last win outside Old Trafford was their remarkable 3-1 second-leg comeback against Paris Saint-Germain, which was without question one of the most improbable Champions League 2019 results.

However, United got very lucky in that match as their first two goals came from PSG errors, while their winner came from a very fortuitous VAR-awarded penalty following a handball. They obviously can’t expect to get as lucky again at the Camp Nou.

Manchester United will go head-to-head versus Barcelona in the second leg Champions League quarterfinals.

Ole Gunnar Solksjaer before the match between Manchester United and Barcelona at Old Trafford

History

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United are no strangers to epic comebacks at the Camp Nou. They famously got two stoppage-time goals — with Solskjaer scoring the second — to beat Bayern Munich 2-1 in the 1999 Champions League final.

But that game aside, the other pieces of history are not on United’s side heading into the second leg.

While they did overturn a 2-0 home defeat against PSG to progress, that was only the fourth time in Champions League history that a team has gone through after losing the home first leg.

Now they must win at the Camp Nou, which will take some doing. For one, Barcelona are undefeated in their last 30 Champions League matches. They set that new record after demolishing Lyon 5-1 in the round of 16.

Moreover, United have won just two of their last 16 matches against Spanish clubs (six draws, eight losses), and none of their last seven (three draws, four losses). Apart from their first-leg loss, they also drew at home and lost away against Valencia in the group stage.

Betting Tip

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Barcelona vs Manchester United Barcelona Asian Handicap -1.50 @ 2.13
April 17, 03:00 (GMT+8)

No matter how you look at it, this is a bad spot for United. Their recent form has been horrendous, with Solskjaer seemingly unable to find any answers to solve their current slide.

And on the other side, Barca have been close to unbeatable at home and will be the fresher of the two after resting their stars over the weekend.

There seems to be just one likely outcome from that combination, which is a comfortable win for Barcelona. The hosts are priced at 1.39 to win in the 1X2 market, while United are a whopping 7.80 to come away with the shock victory.

Barca are also priced at 2.13 to win by 1.50 goals on the us Asian handicap sports betting market, which would also be a wise way to go.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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Solskjaer issues United warning

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has warned his Manchester United side that they will have to lift their game significantly if they want to spring a Champions League shock on Barcelona.

The Red Devils laboured to a 2-1 Old Trafford Premier League victory over West Ham on Saturday, with both of their goals coming courtesy of penalties converted by Paul Pogba.

Next up is a Tuesday evening trip to the Nou Camp to take on Barca, who hold a 1-0 lead from the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final tie, meaning that boss Solskjaer's charges will have to repeat their win at PSG in the last round to progress.

And the Norwegian is aware that his players will have to perform to a higher level than they did against the Irons.

He told BBC Sport: "They played better than us, it is fair to say, I don't think anyone will disagree. We got away with it, sometimes we have lost when we should have won, so over a season it evens itself out.

"We got away with it, got three points and in a few years no-one will remember how we played if we finished in the top four.

"Of course, we have a game on Tuesday night too, which may have played on the player's minds.

"With a performance like this we all know we will struggle in Barcelona and we will have to improve."

United can be backed at 7/1 to win the game in Barcelona on Tuesday, while they are 8/1 to reach the semi-finals and 5/2 to go all the way and win the Champions League.

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La Liga: Barca Brace For Top-vs-Bottom Clash

Huesca vs Barcelona

Barcelona are closing in on yet another La Liga title. After their victory over second-placed Atletico Madrid last weekend, they are now 11 points clear at the top with just seven matches left.

Barca can now take another big step toward the Spanish crown when they face Huesca, who look destined for the drop. However, they will likely have to do so without Lionel Messi in tow.

But even without their talisman, Barca’s La Liga 2019 betting odds to win this match against the league’s bottom club should be quite substantial.

Talking Points

Huesca still fighting

Barring any unexpected miracle, Huesca’s stay in La Liga looks set to come to an end after just one season. Huesca, who gained promotion to the Spanish top flight for the first time in their history, currently sit at the bottom of the table with 24 points, six points from safety with just seven matches remaining.

Their recent form remains pretty abject. They’ve picked up just one win over their last eight outings, with four defeats and three draws. No wonder they’re going back down.

Although, they have been putting up a fight in recent weeks, albeit against fellow bottom-dwelling clubs. Their last two results have seen them battle to high-scoring draws against Celta Vigo (3-3) and Levante (2-2).

And in the match before that, they nearly took a point from Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. It was all tied up until the 89th minute when Karim Benzema came up with a goal to give Madrid the 3-2 win.

Huesca’s top scorer, Ezequiel Avila, has found his touch in front of goal late in the season. The Argentine midfielder has scored seven of his eight goals over the last 10 games.

Huesca will be hoping that a significantly altered Barca backline will allow some big opportunities. But it will still be on the hosts to capitalise on those chances if/when they come.

Changes coming for Barca

Barcelona just continue to rack up the victories. Their 1-0 win in the Champions League quarter-final first leg at Manchester United was their ninth in their last 10 games in all competitions.

Their lone stumble during that time was their 4-4 draw against Villarreal, which was one of the more remarkable La Liga 2019 results of the season. Lionel Messi didn’t start that match, but he came on as a second-half substitute to help Barca make an incredible comeback.

Barca will once again have to make do without Messi in the starting XI against Huesca, though. He is reportedly set to sit out after he suffered a bloodied face at the hands of Manchester United’s Chris Smalling.

The injury doesn’t sound too serious, though. Sitting him out appears to be more of a precaution by manager Ernesto Valverde in order to get Messi as ready as possible ahead of the second leg against United.

With Messi likely out, Malcom may once again get the start in the Argentine’s place. The young Brazilian had a goal and an assist in his last start against Villarreal.

Some of Barca’s other key veteran players — namely defender Gerard Pique and midfielder Sergio Busquets — will likely get the weekend off as well with the Champions League in mind.

But even with all those likely absentees, there’s still just too much depth and quality in the Barca squad — more than enough to take care of business against the bottom club in the league.

Ernesto Valverde's Barcelona are set to face Huesca away from home

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde during their Champions League clash against Manchester United at Old Trafford

History

Since this is Huesca’s very first season in the top flight, they have not had to face Barca too often. Prior to their first meeting this season back in September, they met in the Copa del Rey back in 2014.

Unsurprisingly, Barca won all three matches in quite emphatic fashion. Their trip to the Estadio El Alcoraz in 2014 resulted in a 4-0 win. And in the return leg at the Camp Nou, Barca romped to an 8-1 demolition.

And as fate would have it, Barca fired another eight goals past Huesca this season as they strolled to an 8-2 win. Messi and Luis Suarez both bagged a brace to lead the Catalans to the dominant victory.

Betting Tip

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Huesca vs Barcelona Half Time Full Time Away-Away @ 2.46
April 13, 22:15 (GMT+8)

Despite Messi’s absence, Barca should once again ease to a comfortable victory against Huesca. In the Asian handicap market, Barcelona -1 is priced at 2.16, which seems like a very good bet.

But perhaps the more appealing bet is for Barcelona to be leading at half-time and full-time; us odds have that bet priced at 2.41.

With the likes of Suarez, Philippe Coutinho, and Malcom around, Barca should have more than enough firepower to make that bet payout.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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