La Liga Betting: Osasuna v Barcelona



There was a sense of disappointment in the air late on Thursday night at the Camp Nou. For all of Barça's dominance, they had but a slender lead. With the 2nd leg of the Supercopa against Real Madrid no longer just a formality, a trip to Pamplona could prove laborious. It's not been the happiest of hunting grounds for Blaugrana; last season they were defeated by Osasuna, whilst the year before they had to jump on a train at the last minute just to make the game.

According to Unai Emery, Osasuna are the closest thing to "Stoke City in Spain". Their aggressive and direct approach should make for an exciting tactical encounter due to the contrast of styles. They finished 7th last term, their second best position in the league since 1991.

Team news

It has been a busy week for Osasuna in the transfer market. Ghanian midfielder Anthony Annan has joined on loan from Schalke, whilst Senegalese forward Ibrahima Baldé has departed for Russia. The team is likely to be unchanged from the one which played on Monday, though.

Alex Song completed his £15 million pound move from Arsenal on Monday and could be in line for his debut. Tito Vilanova will continue to rotate with Wednesday's second leg in mind, meaning Carles Puyol and Christian Tello could be restored to the starting eleven.

Form

Opening day defeat to newly-promoted Deportivo wasn't the greatest of starts, but Osasuna are a different prospect at home. They lost just three games at their ground all of last season.

Barça have conceded a goal in both of their games this term, but have briskly responded with a goal of their own. Is this a sign of their strength, or that they have to lose a goal in order to react? Only time will tell.

Recent head-to-head

You couldn't get more contrasting results than last season's league fixtures between these two sides. An 8-0 victory for Barça in Catalonia was a terrible way for Osasuna to start a new campaign. They might not have fancied another meeting come February, though to their credit they bounced back with a famous 3-2 win at the El Sadar.

Goalscorer betting

Goals are coming from all angles for Barça at the moment. Xavi to score first is 8.75, whilst Piqué is a at 7.25 to net any time. With the loss of their highest two goal-scorers, it might be worth a punt at Osasuna failing to hit the net at all, which is 1.78.

Verdict

The sale of Baldé on Friday and the return to Atlético of loan star Raul Garcia means that goals are going to be hard to come by for Los Rojillos this season. Victor Valdés may have been in a charitable mood in midweek, but that's unlikely to last. Barcelona should grab a victory at 1.22, though it certainly won't be a stroll in the park.

Bonus bet

Ándres Iniesta ran the show in the week; his touch, passing, awareness of teammates and space creation were all reasons why he was probably Spain's best player in the European Championships. Either him or Xavi might be rested here, but if he makes the starting whistle he is nicely priced at 8.75 to add a first goal to his superb run of form.

Score prediction

Osasuna 1-2 Barcelona (8.25)