Barcelona vs Real Betis
Under normal circumstances I would be telling you to bet the house, the kids college fund and the new car on a Barcelona win against the Béticos this Sunday at Camp Nou. A win that will secure their 22nd La Liga title.
However, having just witnessed the complete demolition of the Catalan giants in the Champions League Semi-Final by Bayern Munich, 3-0 tonight in Barcelona and 7-0 on aggregate, then maybe there is a lot more value to this game now than there was just a couple of hours ago and Barca may need to put the bubbly on ice for yet another week.
The bookies have not reacted yet and probably won't do so as this will still be a home banker to most. Either that or like Barcelona they are still completely shell shocked?
So Barca to win at 1/4 with Ladbrokes is still the best price around right now. Real Betis to win at 10/1 just got a whole lot more attractive and the draw at 11/2 soccer odds likewise and probably, the more likely of the two.
Last weekend, having been beaten 4-0 by Bayern in the first leg, Barca could only manage a 2-2 draw with Athletic Bilbao who scored a late but deserved equaliser having also led 1-0 until the final third of the match. Barca were out of sorts for most of that game and had to again call on the injured Messi to change things around from the substitute bench!
Also take a look at our Chelsea vs. Basel Europa League: Soccer Picks & Tips
Real Betis are still in the hunt for a Europa League place, sitting just one position outside the top six with five games left to play and so motivation should not be a problem in this one for the Seville based club. The likely continued absence of Messi from the starting line-up will also give them cause for optimism as he continues to struggle with a hamstring problem.
The return fixture back in December was a tight affair that Barca won 2-1, but that Betis more than held their own in and had chances to earn a point from, hitting the woodwork twice. It was also significant as being the game that Lionel Messi (scoring twice) broke the long standing Gerd Muller record of 85 goals in a calendar year!
A repeat of that 2-1 score to Barca is at 8/1 with bet365 while the reverse result to The Heliopolitanos is at 28/1 with William Hill for our soccer picks.
Rubén Castro and Jorge Molina are the danger men for Betis with 16 and 11 goals respectively so far this term. The bookies have them both with identical odds across the board at 11/1 to score first or last, 4/1 to score anytime and both are a 16/1 shot to hit a brace.
Lionel Messi is at 2/1 first or last goal and 2/7 to score
anytime but like I say, he may well start from the bench if he plays at all in
this one and Barca need to stop playing him and relying on him so much when not
fit. Surely they haven't gone from the best in Europe to a one-trick pony in
such a short space of time?
Well, it is well worth noting that the dominance of Barca in Europe has, for me at least, been overstated this season and if you look at their last three ties in detail they have actually only won one of six Champions League ties in the knock out stages, Having drawn with PSG twice to advance on the away goals rule, lost the first leg to AC Milan before a stunning comeback at Camp Nou and, as the whole world will by now know, were just totally destroyed by Bayern.
They are also not defending the Copa del Rey having been knocked out by Real Madrid in the Semi-Finals this year and for me there is a real shift in power as Barca look to be losing their way and as has been said a lot of late, have no Plan B when Messi is out!
That may sound strange for a team about to lift it's 22nd
league title, but such are the demands and expectations that two years without
a Champions League Title, having Real take four points off them in the league
and knock them out of their domestic cup competition will be seen as more
failure than success!
One thing is for sure, there will never be a better time for Real Betis to chance their arm and try to make it four games without a win for Barca this Sunday. They have already defeated Real Madrid this season 1-0, though they lost the return 3-1 a couple of weeks ago but have been scoring goals, ten in their last four alone, and as with any side going to Camp Nou will not be expected to come away with anything.
So, Betis have the know how and the belief to take on the big
boys and I suspect will be approaching this game with real vigour having
witnessed what I and the footballing world at large just did. Even the top
players suffer from a lack of confidence and that Barca defence is just crying
out for some leadership and direction right now.
Score draw for me at 11/2 the correct score prediction of 2-2 at 20/1 and the Double chance of Real Betis or Draw at 16/5 at William Hill..