Soccer Picks: Barcelona vs. Villarreal

Nila Amerova

Friday, December 13, 2013 4:49 PM GMT

Barcelona host Villarreal in week 16 of Spain’s Primera Division. Sportsbooks have released a whole slew of odds on this much-anticipated clash so find out where the angles for profit are to be had.

Barcelona runaway favourites

Last week, Barcelona faltered on the road against Athletic Club 1-0, a result we actually predicted in our weekly rundown of Spanish football betting. Now Villarreal will attempt to make it two defeats in a row for Barcelona but, arguably, they are faced with a much tougher prospect at Camp Nou. So to ask the obvious question: Can Villarreal turn the soccer odds in their favour?

Barcelona are installed as the runaway favourites at -350 to win outright at Bet365 while Villarreal are tipped at a staggering +1000 to win outright and the draw is tipped at +450. Clearly, the answer according to sportsbooks is a resounding no.

It doesn’t help Villarreal’s cause that Barcelona are coming off a brilliant Champions League win over Celtic either, running away 6-1 winners to clinch Group H.

The thrilling night at Camp Nou saw Barcelona at their best, scoring with abandon and toying with the opposition in that special way that is exclusive to their style of football. Importantly, wonder kid Neymar finally broke his scoring deadlock in the competition by scoring a hat trick, which earned a rapturous standing ovation when all was said and done.

That brilliant win augurs well for Barcelona as they begin to come to terms with Messi’s injury and try to move forward in the season without his silky skills. The timing of the win couldn’t have been better as well. It could prove to be the catalyst to fend off an advancing Atletico Madrid, neck-and-neck in the table on 40 points and looking to give Barcelona a run for their money this week in La Liga betting.

The defeat to Athletic Club marked Barcelona’s first defeat on the season. Though it was costly, allowing Atletico to close the gap with a 2-0 win over Elche, Barcelona remain at the top of the table with a 13-1-1 record and 40 points courtesy of slightly better goal differential. They can’t afford another slip up however as Atletico’s form has been sublime in recent weeks, showing no sign of letting up any of the pressure.

Fortunately, Barcelona boast a perfect 7-0-0 record at home that includes 25 goals scored and just five conceded. A win over Villarreal would be par for the course. After all, they stared down Real Madrid, Real Sociedad and Sevilla (to name a few) successfully.

That doesn’t mean Villarreal will be pushovers even if the soccer odds, which are stacked against them heavily across sportsbooks, suggest otherwise.

Villarreal descend on Barcelona all the while riding a five-game undefeated streak across all competitions both home and away. Most recently on the road they are after back-to-back wins over Elche and Levante, both of which were clean sheets.

Adding some weight to their odds on either the win or the draw (more so the latter) at Camp Nou is a 1-1 draw to Atletico Madrid on November 10, a result that they can draw inspiration from when they take on Barcelona.

Overall Villarreal are sat fifth in the table with an 8-4-3 mark and 28 points; road form is a solid 4-1-2 and includes 10 goals scored and 5 conceded, albeit most of their fixtures involved the league’s middleweights. Those in the know, know there is a huge gap in quality between the clubs occupying the upper echelons of Spanish football and the rest of the field.

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Soccer Betting Verdict: As tempting as it is to recommend Villarreal on the outright win it’s a long shot at massive +1000 soccer odds. It would take something extraordinary from Villarreal and perhaps even some divine intervention as well to pull off such a massive upset. Most expect Barcelona to win, as do we. But at -350 soccer odds there isn’t a whole lot of value in terms of profit. So to pad your pockets with some extra cash the Over 2.5 at -225 is an additional option to consider for our soccer picks, as well Barcelona to win both halves at -125.

Soccer Free Picks: Barcelona to win outright at -350; Over 2.5 at -225 and Barcelona to win both halves at -125.