Soccer Picks: Atletico Bilbao vs. Barcelona

Nila Amerova

Friday, April 26, 2013 6:29 PM GMT

Primera Division enters the final push with Barcelona holding a stranglehold on the title race; that is, if it can still be called a race.

Soccer Betting Picks –Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona

Next up for Barcelona is Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, a tilt odds makers put firmly in Barcelona’s camp. Can Athletic Bilbao mastermind the upset win or is this game as straight forward as the soccer odds would suggest?

For most soccer betting fans this fixture does seem as straightforward as the odds makers would have it, making a bet on Barcelona at 8/13 betting odds to win outright at William Hill the popular choice for most's soccer picks. That being said, Barcelona is flush off a major setback in Champions League action, a 4-0 drumming by Bayern Munich that – no sense in sugar coating it – had to hurt. So much so, they might not recover from it in time for Sunday’s clash with Athletic Bilbao.  

The defeat in Munich was one of the worst defeats in the Catalans’ club history in Europe’s top-flight action. It’s not that Barcelona played badly. They were simply outplayed by Bayern Munich who clearly had a game plan and executed it to perfection. The Bundesliga champions enjoyed the upper hand from start to finish, harassing Barca’s midfielders incessantly, defending with purpose, creating offensive chances at any opportunity, especially on the counterattack.

It goes without saying, it’s going to be a tall order even for the likes of Barcelona to salvage the tie and that cloud of disenchantment hanging over the team could have real ramifications for this weekend’s domestic commitment. A hangover Athletic Bilbao might be able to capitalize on with a draw (priced at betting odds of 3/1) or even a win (4/1).

Is there value in going against soccer betting the market?

Conventional wisdom dictates betting on Barcelona is the smart bet. After all, Barcelona have the La Liga title practically in the bag with a 13-point lead over their nearest rivals, Real Madrid, going into this weekend.

To date, they are 27-3-2 in 32 matches which includes a six-game undefeated run (5-1-0).  On the road, they’ve suffered only two defeats this season, a 3-2 defeat to Real Sociedad and a 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid, and just two draws, a 1-1 draw to Valencia and a 2-2 draw to Celta de Vigo.

Let’s talk about the 2-2 draw to Celta de Vigo for a moment, a stalemate that came against a side flirting with relegation this season and, on paper, didn’t appear to be much of a challenge for Barcelona. But did they really pose a challenge or were the Catalans just preoccupied with their upcoming (four days later) Champions League tie with PSG that Celta de Vigo merely capitalized on their lack of focus and distraction? It’s possible.

This is not meant to imply that Barcelona threw that match in any way, shape or form but rather it’s meant to point out the fact that they are human after all, prone to distraction, disappointment and your run-of-the-mill bad day. By that same token, one could not fault Barcelona if they were to come out flat  on Sunday, especially when they are still coming to terms with the enormity of the situation before them and the very real possibility their Champions League sojourn is on the verge of ending.

[gameodds]17/225773/43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

They are down but they are not out of Champions League yet.

Writing their obituary might be premature. In the R16, Barcelona slipped to a 2-0 defeat to AC Milan at the San Siro before they returned to Camp Nou to reverse the tie with a 4-0 victory. If Barcelona hopes to produce similar such heroics – never you mind, greater heroics –  in the reverse tie on Wednesday next week, a return to winning form at the weekend will be crucial. At the very least, it will send a message to Bayern Munich that they still have lots of fight in them.  Fortunately for Barcelona, they have a solid record against Athletic Bilbao having won the last three meetings convincingly (outscoring them by 10-1 combined). At the same time, Athletic Bilbao’s recent dip in form and spate of injuries don’t augur well for the upset.

Soccer Betting Verdict:  Barcelona to win outright at 8/13 at William Hill