2/10/2012 1:37:00 PM
Don’t bet on any long shots in this weekend’s stone cold banker in Spain’s top flight. Osasuna versus Barcelona is your opportunity to make the bookies pay. Even with Champions League action next week Barca will be too strong.
Barca are fighting on three fronts at present with active campaigns in La Liga, the Copa del Ray and the Champions League to keep them busy, but that doesn’t mean they’re in danger of being embarrassed by Osasuna. Spanish international Cesc Fabregas has warned his Barcelona team-mates there is still 'much to do' after their progression to the Copa del Rey final. He has earned the right to preach (a little) after he scored the opening goal in the Catalan's 2-0 win over Valencia. However, he insists that his teammates stay focused on La Liga and the Champions League before the Cup final in May.
Second among equals
As things stand at present in the Spanish table Barcelona are five points and four goals adrift of Real Madrid after 21 games. La Liga seems to be more of a two horse race than any other league, outside of Scotland, as Valencia, who usually take the bronze medal position are 11 points and 39 goals behind second-place Barca. With 17 games left to play it is pretty much inconceivable that anyone outside the top two will take the La Liga title this year.
Further down the slippery slope
Osasuna are currently in ninth place, 20 points behind Barcelona on 28 and a whopping 58 goals behind them, as their current goal tally reads -10. A win could theoretically take them as high as sixth while there are two teams (Getafe and Sevilla) less than three points behind them, and three other teams who are three points behind (Mallorca, Granada & Real Sociedad) who could all be looking down on Osasuna, in the very near future.
A sure thing?
Barcelona winning both halves is available at soccer odds of 10/11 while the home side winning both halves is available at 17/1. The biggest odds available in half-time / full-time soccer betting are on Barcelona winning at the break, but Osasuna taking the match by the final whistle at 66/1 and the shortest odds are on Barcelona winning both halves (see above). If this is the area you like to invest your money in and you’re not turned on by the odds on Barcelona winning both halves, go for a draw at half-time before the inevitable Barca victory at 11/4 or even mix things up further by backing the home side leading at the break before Barcelona take the game at the 90 which is available at 28/1.
Osasuna are a decent side when they play at home, they've won five, drawn four and lost two, and their goal tally for home games reads; scored 14 and conceded nine. That does average out to conceding a little over one goal per game, but I think Barcelona will have little difficulty finding the back of the Osasuna net. Barcelona have only lost once away from home this season, drawing five and winning four, they’ve scored 16 goals on their travels and conceded just 10.
Looking at the last five head-to-head meetings between these two sides Barcelona have come out on top every single time, Barcelona have recorded a clean sheet four out of five times. The closest Osasuna have come to victory was a 1-2 in the Copa del Ray last month. In the four games before that Barcelona won 4-0, 8-0, 2-0 and the last time this match was played at the Estadio Reyno de Navarra, 3-0. Don't shy away from big scores like that as 4-0 is at just 14/1, while 8-0 is at 150/1, 2-0 is at 11/2 and 3-0 is at 15/2. Although, personally I think Barcelona will concede a goal. I'm backing an unsurprising Barcelona win, but not a Barcelona clean sheet.
Prediction: Another three points for Barcelona, and a 3-1 victory available at 10/1 with the sportsbooks.