La Liga Betting: Business as usual for Barcelona against Levante


It's natural for managers to get compared to their predecessors. After all, how else can supporters judge the current man at the helm? It happens at every club in the world. But that's not to say it's always fair. Barcelona spokesman Toni Freixa stated this week: "Tito Vilanova is earning all the comparisons with Guardiola. He is having a flawless season." Talking about the coach's "human side" and stating that "this season has been better than last" are not digs at Guardiola, but rather testament to the challenges Vilanova has overcome over the last year.

Juan Ignacio Martínez believes the statistics of the 'big two' show a huge gap between them and the rest of La Liga. "Games against Real Madrid and Barcelona are marked with real difficulty. Their numbers are frankly insulting," remarked the Levante coach. His side hasn't had the same success as last season, but given the resources at their disposal and a first ever European adventure they can still be reasonably happy - provided they don't get sucked into the relegation fight.

Team news

Sergio Busquets has joined the list of Barça absentees so Alex Song will sit at the base of the three-man midfield. Thiago Alcañtara was outstanding against Real Zaragoza and will probably partner Andrés Iniesta this time, with Xavi held back for midweek.

Vicente Iborra received his tenth caution this season against Deportivo, meaning Barkero will likely sit alongside Pape Diop in midfield. Míchel should provide the attacking thrust, with Italian Robert Acquafresca aiming to supply the goals.

Form

It's a juggling act for Barcelona as they aim to tick over in the league and reach maximum potential in Europe. The 3-0 victory in Zaragoza was as comfortable away win as you could expect against a team battling the drop.

Levante have won only one of their last six matches, while their previously tight defence has shipped nine goals in just two games. Losing 4-0 at home to Deportivo will definitely have hurt them.

Recent head-to-head

The Blaugrana have unsurprisingly won five of their last six meetings with 'The Frogs'. Cesc Fàbregas scored the fourth in a 4-0 rout in November, and is 2.25 to net at any time.

Goalscorer betting

Cristian Tello scored twice last weekend at La Romareda, and can be backed at 6.25 to open the scoring here. Alexis Sanchez's transition from life in Italy has been far from easy, as he admitted this week, but he seems to be settling at last. The Chilean is 5.50 to get his name on the scoresheet first.

Verdict

After being thrashed at home to Depor, the prospect of a trip to the Camp Nou is a daunting one. Barcelona look to have found the balance between two competitions. Expect the stars of the future to shine bright once more in a Barça win at 1.18.

Bonus bet

Only once in the last four league games have Barcelona scored or conceded a goal after the 70th minute - and that was against current bottom side Celta Vigo. With the league almost done and dusted, they are finishing teams off earlier and may take their foot of the gas once more with Bayern Munich around the corner. It's 1.95 for there to be no goals in the final 15 minutes of the match.

Score prediction: Barcelona 4-1 Levante (16.00)