La Liga Betting: Barcelona v Celta Vigo



Lionel Messi is on the verge of becoming a dad for the first time. It's safe to say he will be a natural, as there seems little this Argentinean doesn't take in his stride. If Lionel Junior fails to have his father's impeccable timing, then Messi may be forced to sit this one out. With or without their talisman, though, Barcelona continue to swat aside all comers - only Real Madrid have denied them victory this season. A comfortable 3-0 win over Alavés in the Copa del Rey on Tuesday night was never likely to affect that record, even with a rotated line-up.

The spoils were shared in the Galician derby, as Celta Vigo drew 1-1 with rivals Deportivo. Having held out for 40 minutes with ten men, they will have been pleased with the outcome.

Team news

Barça are yet to field the same back four in successive league games, a run that is likely to continue with the return of Dani Alves from injury and Javier Mascherano from suspension. Xavi was rested in midweek, whilst Gerard Piqué is closing in on a return.

Celta centre-back Gustavo Cabral will miss the visit to the Camp Nou after he received red in the derby, with Nacho Insa also missing out. Coach Paco Herrera will probably pack the midfield as he did for their recent trip to the champions.

Form

The scoreline flattered Barcelona a little last Saturday, though the 5-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano was certainly well-earned. Rayo pressed the Catalans, and that test could prove useful with harder games to come. Celta lost 0-2 away to Segunda side Almeria in their last game, making it just one win in their last five. They have either scored or conceded two in eight of their last nine matches.

Recent head-to-head

The two sides have not met since January 2007, when Frank Rijkaard's Barcelona ran out 3-1 winners. Barcelona have won their last four meetings and have not lost to Celta Vigo for over eight years.

Goalscorer betting

It's been a long road to recovery for David Villa, but things are looking brighter for the former Valencia man. Hard work and mental strength have paid dividends as Tito Vilanova has slowly integrated him back into the first team squad. Tabloids suggested Villa could be on the move, but simply misinterpreted his manager's decision to wrap him in cotton wool through fear of relapse. In the last two competitive matches Villa has opened the scoring. He's at 3.75 to continue this run.

Verdict

There's little hope for a newly promoted team arriving at one of Spain's big two, especially if they happen to be comfortably dispatching teams at will. The intrigue often arrives in how the underdog will approach the match. If by some minor miracle Herrera's team can pinch a win they are an extremely rewarding 28.00. Don't bank on it funding your Christmas shopping, though; anything other than a Barcelona victory would be a miracle.

Bonus bet

Tito Vilanova's team are evolving in a quite unexpected manner. Having originally struggled to find a role, Fàbregas has become pivotal in league matches. Playing as part of the midfield three, he has acknowledged the need to be more tactically astute. His seven assists in La Liga is the highest of any player. Meanwhile, Xavi has adapted his style in certain matches, seeing less of the ball and pressing higher up the pitch, compensating for Cesc's predominant role. He touched the ball 186 times against Celtic, compared with 66 times versus Rayo. Fàbregas to score first is at 5.75.

Score prediction

Barcelona 3-0 Celta Vigo (7.00)