Soccer Picks Barcelona vs. Malaga

Nila Amerova

Thursday, January 23, 2014 3:31 PM GMT

Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014 3:31 PM GMT

The weekend soccer-betting menu boasts a Continental flavour as Barcelona and Malaga go head-to-head in week 21 La Liga betting. Join us as we breakdown this matchup and deliver our choice free picks.

Barcelona under pressure

The race to the La Liga title heated up at the conclusion of week 20 La Liga betting after Barcelona and Atletico Madrid succumbed to draws and, at the same time, Real Madrid capitalised with an impressive 5-0 victory over Real Betis.

As things currently stand, only a point separates this triplet of credible threats for the title. The only contenders in La Liga mind, as evinced by the conspicuous absence of soccer odds on any other team in Spanish top flight. Barcelona lead the charge in futures betting priced at -138 while Real Madrid come in as close second favourites at +175 soccer odds. New kids on the block Atletico however are deemed the overwhelming long shots, priced at +750 at Bet365.

Now that Barcelona’s title intentions are seriously under threat they need a big win against a tough Malaga side to maintain their edge over their Madrid rivals. Fortunately, the prognosis is good for Blaugrana as they are the undisputed favourites to win outright against Malaga.

Barcelona host Malaga at Camp Nou as the runaway favourites at -1000 to win outright at Bet365. By contrast, Malaga are the long shots at +2000 to deliver a defeat to their esteemed hosts at Camp Nou, which is – let’s face it – a soccer pick only the most optimistic Malaga fan would be willing to bank on. The draw is also a rather optimistic option at +800 soccer odds.

Still Barcelona are after a shock draw to Levante on their travels that opened up the title race and allowed Carlo Ancelotti’s side back into the fold along with Diego Simeone’s Atleti. That it marks their second straight draw after a scoreless draw to Atleti in week 19 La Liga betting has some sports bettors even calling for panic.

The pressing matter of course is that this recent form could give Malaga a sliver of hope towards securing a result at Camp Nou. For a side that puts a heavy premium on winning, back-to-back draws in a letdown. Let’s not forget also that just as the Blaugrana welcomed back Messi, Neymar joined the walking wounded with an ankle injury.

Be sure to read our sportsbook reviews before placing your bets!

Barcelona vs. Malaga match betting tips and picks

If Malaga can somehow take a page from the most recent result in particular and try to emulate Levante’s stoic defending there is a slim chance of positive result such as a draw at +800 would be. In fact, they claimed draws on the road against three top six contenders already – Villarreal, Seville and Real Sociedad. As well, they managed a draw to Valencia at home just last weekend. Indeed Barcelona can’t take this matchup for granted despite the hefty soccer odds, not least because the pressure at the top of the table is mounting.

That said they remain the smart soccer pick to win outright with an impeccable 9-0-0 record at home. At -1000 soccer odds however there is no value in backing Barcelona in the outright win market. We’re giving it a pass.

Where the angles for profit can be found is in periphery sports market betting such as the totals. Bookies favour the Over 2.5 at -400 but given Malaga’s prowess on defence and Barcelona’s lack of goals recently (three goals over their last three fixtures), this game could go Under 2.5, which is tipped at a nice +300 at Bet365.

Soccer Free Picks: Under 2.5 at +300

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