Soccer Picks: Athletic Club vs. Barcelona La Liga Tips

Nila Amerova

Friday, November 29, 2013 1:35 PM GMT

Friday, Nov. 29, 2013 1:35 PM GMT

Barcelona descends on Athletic Club on Sunday, wrapping up week 15 of La Liga betting in online sportsbooks. Find out what odds are currently on offer and where the value soccer picks can be found.

Barcelona soaring high in La Liga

Barcelona – surprise, surprise – are soaring high in La Liga, sat pretty atop the table with a three-point edge over Atletico and Real Madrid. And – surprise, surprise – they head into their next domestic engagement as the heavy road favourites at -167 at most sportsbooks.

That Barcelona (13-1-0) are installed as the soccer odds fovourites should come as no surprise. It’s nothing new really. So ingrained is this expectation of Catalan excellence that sports betting circles are well familiar with it. Moreover, they’re also used to Barca being a profitable exercise.

Barcelona are after a rather surprising defeat in European competition however, a shocking 2-1 defeat to Ajax on match day 5 in Champions League action that sent seismic shockwaves through sports betting circles. The worst part (as far as Barcelona is concerned), the Dutch accomplished the feat despite playing most of the second half with just 10 men.

Now, it should be pointed out that Barcelona were already qualified into the knockout stages ahead of match day 5 so the defeat wasn’t exactly a calamity. Tata Martino (who has very little experience managing high level campaigns on multiple fronts) perhaps was just being mindful of the upcoming domestic clash with fifth placed Athletic Club rather than beating Ajax. After all, the domestic clash is a must-win game if they hope to maintain their edge in La Liga while the Ajax clash carried less weight – a mere formality in which they needed just a draw to sew up first place. Oops. Did they drop the ball? It remains to be seen whether they will rue that uncharacteristic account.

As it is, now they must bounce back on the road to Athletic Club – who’ll have paid keen attention to Ajax’s tactics surely – and deal with sorting out the sorry mess of where they would qualify in Champions League on match day 6 when they take on Celtic.

Athletic Club loom dangerous on the horizon, more so than one would assume given the sports betting markets that have them on offers of +400 to win outright.

Athletic Club or Los Leones are one of three clubs never to have been relegated from La Liga; the others include Barcelona and Real Madrid. In some respects, that puts them on par with Spain’s elite duo in a historical context – a pride of place and sense of worth that features in their clashes even if it doesn’t always pay dividends.

Los Leones are enjoying an optimistic season so far, sitting in fifth place with an 8-2-4 mark and 26 points in 14 laps. Home form has been quite impressive, the reason why they are as high up in the table as they are really. They have yet to lose a game, going 5-2-0 in seven engagements at home.

Since back-to-back wins to start the season, their home form has oscillated between a win and draw from match to match. If this trend holds true, seeing that their last result at home was a 2-1 win over Levante, they would be due a draw, which is trading at +320 at Bet365. Actually the same result that they pulled off last season against Barcelona at home.

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Soccer Betting Verdict: Perceptions sometimes lead to prediction errors and this could be one such case for the sports betting markets. Perceptions of Barcelona are high and for good reason, we get that. Their body of work speaks loudly, second to none these days. However, it’s no secret that Barcelona have been hit hard with injuries. Lionel Messi is out. For most of the season if not the entire season allegedly as well as others are sidelined, questionable or just not 100% fit. What’s more, they are after a defeat in Holland. Now not to chalk their defeat to Ajax entirely to the growing injury list but one has to believe it will catch up to them eventually. Not the least the travel time as well.

Barcelona can’t possibly be considered the same team without some of their key contributors. They have depth and quality as few teams have but some players are simply irreplaceable.  What this means for Athletic Club is an opportunity to get one over Barcelona. Their home trend suggests they are due a draw but maybe this is one of those rare opportunities to hand Barcelona a first defeat on the season. (Bet a few Madrid fans (on both sides of the city) will be hoping for such a result.) So just on the slim chance that it could actually happen – and there is no better time than after a disappointing defeat in a prestigious competition as Champions League to do it  – we’re adding an Athletic Club win to our soccer picks, as the price is too good not to.  

Soccer Free Picks: Athletic Club to win outright at +400
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