The Catalans will be hoping to avoid their third straight loss when they travel to take on Ajax in the Champions League. Despite their shaky play of late, we're backing Barcelona with our soccer picks.
Barcelona is accustomed to being a favorite no matter where they're playing, and that holds true for Wednesday's trip to Amsterdam.
At the moment, the Catalans have been installed as -250 to -300 favorites at the top online sportsbooks, with an Ajax win at approximately +750 and a draw at +400.
The last time Ajax took the pitch in Champions League action, they fell 3-1 at Barcelona. However, the legendary Dutch club has responded very well to that setback, recording three straight wins ahead of Wednesday's rematch.
Over their previous three appearances, Ajax has beaten Go Ahead Eagles (3-1) and Dodrecht (4-0) in league play and also gotten the better of Urk 4-0 in cup action.
In their most recent match, up against Dordrecht, Lasse Schone notched a brace and Joel Veltman and Lucas Andersen also got on the scoresheet in the dominant performance.
We can find Ajax in second place in the Dutch Eredivisie table, with only PSV ahead. Ajax has earned 23 points through 11 fixtures while posting a goal differential of +12. Again, only PSV has fared better in that regard. Schone has been the main contributor goal-wise, netting six times in league play thus far.
As far as the Champions League goes, Ajax is in the third spot, having notched two points in three fixtures. They tied both PSG and Apoel Nicosia while losing to Barcelona, and they've managed three goals for and five goals against leading into Wednesday's clash.
What's going on with Barcelona right now?
The Catalans, whom we're used to seeing dominate in every competition, have been struggling lately - they've dropped consecutive league matches, losing the El Clasico (3-1 at Real Madrid) and then suffering a shock 1-0 home loss to Celta de Vigo. No, that's not a mistake on our part. That really happened.
As it stands, Barcelona is still very much in the thick of things in La Liga. They're only a couple points back of Real Madrid for the top spot, so there's no need to panic, especially so early on in the campaign.
On the European stage, the Catalans haven't been as dominant in the group as many expected them to be, but they're once again in a good position. They've earned six points in three matches, and they still have a home match against PSG and away fixtures to Ajax and Apoel Nicosia to come. We still expect them to emerge as the top seed in the group when everything's said and done.
And can you really blame us? Have you seen Barcelona's starting XI? More specifically, have you seen their starting attacking trio? When you've got Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez wrecking havoc up top, you know the goals are going to come fast and furious. This team will get it together, and it's going to happen soon.
Champions League Pick
This is essentially a must-win for both sides of the equation, but all things equal we have to roll with the more talented team in Barcelona.
You'd have to think the law of averages will even out, as we highly doubt Barcelona will suffer a third consecutive defeat. It's rare in and of itself to see the Catalans drop two matches in a row, so we feel good about their chances of getting back on track this Wednesday.
With a deadly trio of Messi, Neymar and Suarez up front, it's going to be mighty hard for Ajax to cope in our estimation. Let's side with the favorites to win by two or more goals to get more bang for our buck with our soccer picks.
Pick: Ajax 0 Barcelona 2