After the thrills of the of an El Classico clash in the Copa del Rey, Barcelona get back to the immediate matter of generating league points when they take a trip to faltering Villarreal.
As things stand in the table FC Barcelona are playing catch up to Real Madrid. After 19 games each Real Madrid have a five point cushion (on 49 points) compared to Barcelona's 44. Whatever happened in their Cop del Rey clash on Wednesday night, Barca will hate seeing their local rivals looking down on them from the top of the table. Barcelona will have to refocus on the league and start chipping away at Real Madrid's lead, and their trip to Villarreal should be a nigh on perfect fixture to start tallying up more points. Villarreal are 15 places down the league, have a grand total of just 19 points after 19 games and are in danger of dropping out of the Spanish top flight altogether.
Everything points to an away win
Barcelona are offered up at 2/9 to take this game, while a draw is an outside bet at 5/1 with William Hill. Expect goals as well, as in the last 25 matches between these two sides there have been more than three goals scored on 14 occasions and this fixture last brought a goalless draw back in 2003-04 season (that match was played at Camp Nou). A 0-0 is available at fat soccer odds of 16/1 while a 3-0 win for Barca is at a much more likely 7/1.
The last meeting between these two sides back at the start of this year's La Liga season was played out at Camp Nou and ended with a whopping goal tally that shamed Villarreal. That game ended 5-0 Barca. The goal onslaught began after just 25 minutes, saw a brace from Lionel Messi and a goal apiece from Thiago Alcantara, Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez. Pep Guardiola's men left the pitch to a standing ovation and looked set for another title winning season.
I think, Barcelona fans, players and their manager would be very happy to see a repeat of that scoreline which is offered up at 20/1 while one better (6-0) is at 50/1 with the sportsbooks. I don't think Villarreal can expect a reverse of that score, but if you do have more money than sense (or you know something I don't) you can pick up odds of 450/1 on Villarreal beating Barca 5-0.
I think that the best Villarreal can expect is to keep Barcelona's superstars under some form of control and limit the scoreline. A low scoring Barca victory is a decent bet as the shortest odds are on a 2-0 scoreline which is available at 6/1 closely followed by 3-0 at 7/1.
Villarreal did give their fans something to shout about in their last game recording that rarest of rare beasts a win, made rarer still buy their clean sheet. They beat Sporting de Gijon by clear three goals to nil. I wouldn’t recommend a repeat of that score (available at 125/1) or even a 1-0 which is the shortest odds on a Villarreal win at 25/1.
At time of press, ahead of Barcelona's game against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey, the defending champions have won their last four games scoring 12 goals and conceding just five. I do think that regardless of that cup game Barcelona will either stack success upon success and take Villarreal apart or they will take out any frustrations Real Madrid may inflict on them, on the unfortunate Yellow Submarines. I’m tempted to spread my cash around on another big score, 4-0 is at 10/1, 4-2 is at 40/1 and 5-1 is also worth a bet at 28/1.
Long odds and fat returns
Anyone who wants to gamble with their heart instead of their head might want to back Villarreal to win at 11/1 as, despite the fact they are struggling to avoid relegation they have illuminated La Liga of late, playing with fervent passion that saw them reach a champions league semi-final and four top five finishes in the last five years. Any point gained from this match would be a huge boost to their morale and is worth a loose change bet (2-0 at 66/1 or 2-1 at 28/1 might be worth a pop).
A more sensible soccer betting option would be to back Barcelona to win both halves at 6/10, although if you're feeling sporting back draw at half-time before the almost inevitable Barcelona victory at full-time which is available at 7/2.
Prediction: Sorry Villarreal. Barca win 4-0, available at 10/1.