La Liga Betting: Champions Barcelona too strong for Real Valladolid



Due to the sense of inevitability about Barcelona's title win, it has long felt like something has been missing. The ease with which they took the trophy - despite being without manager Tito Vilanova for a lengthy spell - has taken an edge off the club becoming champions. But look at the simple facts: this was the first season without their most successful manager of all time. "Winning the League was always a priority for us. To reach 100 points would be nice if we could get there, but our style of football is more important to us than a points total," remarked Vilanova this week.

The need to rectify the mistakes made this campaign will be reflected in the transfer market. A deal for Neymar seems to be creeping closer, with Vilanova admitting the Brazilian is "a good player, one that everyone would like in their team." Santos vice-president Odilio Rodrigues has confirmed that the club have already rejected an offer from the Catalans, though he did admit: "Neymar will choose the team he wants. It's his opinion that is important."

"We can win with our style and are confident we can win at the Camp Nou," said Real Valladolid coach Miroslav Đukić this week. His confidence is high as the club are prepared to offer him an unprecedented three or four-year contract, while Valencia are considering a move should they lose Ernesto Valverde this summer.

Team news

Lionel Messi joins Carles Puyol on the sidelines for the remainder of the season, but Javier Mascherano is back in training. Xavi, Sergio Busquets and David Villa should all be given the chance to start.

Omar Ramos returns from suspension for Valladolid, but may have to make do with a place on the bench. Right-back Antonio Rukavina has picked up his fifth booking of the campaign, so Henrique Sereno may deputise.

Form

Barça's 2-1 win over Atletico Madrid wasn't the most entertaining of games, with the visitors having been announced champions the evening before and Atléti having their minds on the Copa Del Rey, but the comeback still showed character. The team had to come from a goal down with just ten men after talisman Leo Messi limped off.

The 1-0 win over in-form Deportivo confirmed another season in the top flight for Real Valladolid. At the final whistle the relief among the players was palpable.

Recent head-to-head

There have been six wins in the last six meetings for Blaugrana, as Valladolid have managed just two goals. It's three years since their last visit to the Camp Nou, when they lost 4-0. Out-of-form Pedro scored that day, and is 6.50 to score first tonight.

Goalscorer betting

With Messi out, goals can come from anywhere. David Villa and Cesc Fàbregas are the likeliest at 4.40 and 5.00 respectively to notch first. Dani Alves is yet to score in the league this season, having scored in the last nine years. He would be disappointed should he not manage to net in 2012/13, and is 17.00 for the opener. Javi Guerra has scored four goals in the previous five matches, including a strike at the Bernabéu. You can back him to score at 4.70.

Verdict

Neither side has anything to play for, but some players on the two teams may have a feeling they are playing for their futures. That should give Barça a narrow win at 1.27.

Bonus bet

If you don't include the match with Real Madrid, Valladolid's games tend to be quite low-scoring. With no Messi for Barça and the title sewn up, under 2.5 goals is a decent 3.20.

Score prediction: Barcelona 2-0 Real Valladolid (6.75)