La Liga Betting: Barcelona v Osasuna



A first league defeat of the season for Barcelona against Real Sociedad has thrown up some interesting questions. Have we now got a title race? Can other teams beat the irrepressible Catalans? Will this be the start of a potential slide? All will be revealed in the coming weeks. Gerard Piqué capped off another eventful week with the goal I predicted, but unfortunately my crystal ball was giving false readings; the strike came in the Copa del Rey and not last weekend's league encounter. Milan Piqué is the latest edition to the Barça junior play area after Shakira gave birth this week.

Victory last week lifted Osasuna off the foot of the table. "Everyone knows that our situation [18th in La Liga] is complicated, but we have to go to Barcelona and try not to give anything away," explained striker Nino, before adding that "even a point would be brilliant."

Team news

Javier Mascherano and Carles Puyol are expected to start at the heart of the Barça defence, with few changes from the team that beat Málaga. Victor Valdés will replace the injured José Manuel Pinto between the posts.

Osasuna are unlikely to change a winning line-up. Joint top scorers Kike Sola and Nino will hope for more success in front of goal.

Form

Tito Vilanova's men had more than enough chances to win against Sociedad; both Lionel Messi and Pedro hit the woodwork and they were 2-0 up at one point. They have also faced severe tests against Málaga recently. The goals are still flowing, but they are leaking just as equally at the back; just two clean sheets in their last eight means that both teams to score is appealing 2.35.

José Luis Mendilibar's team had not won in seven prior to the 2-1 home win over fellow strugglers Deportivo La Coruna. Only once in their last 15 games in all competitions have they lost by more than one goal, making the handicap bet with Osasuna (0- 2) appealing for an away win at 3.55.

Recent head-to-head

The last time Osasuna travelled to the Camp Nou in the league, they left embarrassed and fragile after being destroyed 8-0. It's a very different Osasuna defensively these days, but a repeat scoreline would be a profitable 80.00.

Goalscorer betting

Lionel Messi is in search of another record. He now has 10 goals in as many league games, matching the current record set by fellow Barça players Mariano Martín in the 1942/43 campaign and Brazil’s Ronaldo in 1996/97. Having been subbed due to injury last time-out, he should fully recover for this one. To open the scoring the creative genius is 2.55. Pedro is back amongst the goals: he now has three in as many games and is 1.78 to grab another.

Verdict

The first signs of a wobble have been displayed by Barça, though further diagnosis will have to wait. Last Saturday's match should be a temporary blip, but this game might not be easy. With a midweek Clasico approaching, a narrow Barcelona win looks the safest option at 1.08.

Bonus bet

Uncharacteristically for Blaugrana, two of the four goals against Malaga were headers. The Rojillos are more than equipped with aerial ability, but with the right cross and decent movement it isn't out the realm of possibility to happen once again. Why not try Sergio Busquets to score with a header at 15.00 or Messi at 7.00.

Score prediction: Barcelona 2-1 Osasuna (10.00)