La Liga Betting: Deportivo v Barcelona



Opening day optimism was short-lived for La Coruna, as the reality of top-flight football has bitten hard. Unbeaten after four games, but with defeats to Sevilla and Real Madrid since, manager José Luis Oltra will hope to keep spirits high within the four walls of the Riazor dressing room.

Seven of Spain's starting eleven against France were from Barcelona on Tuesday evening, but fatigue shouldn't be to much of an issue as the game was at Atléti's Vicente Calderón. With injuries still prevalent in an already thin squad, especially in defence, it surprised some that Tito Vilanova sent centre-back Andreu Fontas on loan to Real Mallorca.

Team news

Other than long-term absentee Manuel Pablo, Deportivo have only midfielder Abel Aguilar as a concern. He is expected to recover in time, which would make a significant difference to the dynamism. Riki (11.50 to score first) has three goals this season, whilst on-loan winger Pizzi is believed to have been signed by Atlético Madrid in the last few days.

Gerard Piqué is back in training with the target set for a return against Celtic in the Champions League. Alex Song is stuck in his native Cameroon at present; alleged stolen documents are preventing him from travelling. It's likely to be the defence that ended El Clasico, with Adriano continuing at centre-half and Martin Montoya at right-back.

Form

Depor have lost their last three games and only Espanyol have worse form in the last six. They have the joint leakiest defence in La Liga and are coming up against the most formidable attacking unit, though at home they have conceded just three in three.

While it's no shame for Barça to have lost their 100% record against Real Madrid, they will be eager to return to winning ways in this one. Six wins in seven games is hardly the worst return, at any rate.

Recent head-to-head

Deportivo have not won in their last six meetings with Barcelona and have only scored two goals in the process. January 2011 was the last time the 'Cules' made a trip to the north west, and they were comprehensive 4-0 winners. In fact, Barca have kept clean sheets in the three previous meetings between the sides.

Goalscorer betting

The 'Why can't do it for Argentina?' debate has been put firmly to bed by Lionel Messi in recent months. He bagged a double against Uruguay (including a free kick underneath the jumping wall) and a goal away to Chile in the international break. When you factor the hat-trick versus Brazil at the start of the summer, the argument is simply no longer valid. National manager Alejandro Sabella has managed to recreate his club form, whilst still pandering to the rest of the attacking egos. Messi is at 1.50 to score against Depor.

Verdict

Whilst Depor have been moderately more successful at home, they have yet to play a side of the calibre of Barcelona on their own turf. Providing the Catalans can make an early enough breakthrough, they should have no problems.

Bonus bet

Pedro scored three goals last week in the first Spanish World Cup qualifier to not be shown on national TV. No one in world football takes better advantage of the space left occupied by a withdrawn striker than the Islander and he now seems to be back to his most ruthless form. Former boss Pep Guardiola even admitted he should have used him more last season. Pedro can be backed at 5.50 to score first.

Score prediction: Deportivo 0-4 Barcelona (15.00)