La Liga Betting: Real Betis v Barcelona



There were gasps of breath all around the Camp Nou as Lionel Messi took aim at the Benfica goal on Wednesday evening. Was he about to equal Gerd Mullers record? No. Instead, he fell to the floor in a heap and the gasps recurred for a very different reason: Messi was injured. Television doctors the world over feared the worst. It must be serious for Messi to stay down, they thought: that's the record gone. Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo featured the headline, "Panic in the stadium".  It was, however, a false alarm. Bruising of the knee was the official diagnosis. He might not even miss this game.

Pepe Mel is looking to become only the fifth different manager in Real Betis's history to defeat Real Madrid and Barcelona at home in the same season. Mel's team are currently riding high in a Champions League spot, though a top half finish would be a realistic aim for the season.

Team news

Left-back Álex Martínez and youngster Sergio Rodríguez are still ruled out for Betis, though the squad has been reinforced this week with the return to full training of defenders Damien Perquis, Mario and Paulão. Former Wigan centre-back Antonio Amaya will be hoping to keep his place.

Alexis Sánchez might be in contention for Barca having missed four weeks, but the news everyone is inevitably waiting for concerns Messi. Just a fortnight ago against Levante was the first time there were eleven players on the pitch that had come through the famed Barça academy La Masia.

Form

Three consecutive wins have firmly removed the shadow cast by the Seville derby defeat. Overall Real Betis have five victories in the last eight, and with just one draw all season you can get a double chance of a Betis or Barcelona win at 1.16.

It has been the best start to a La Liga season ever by any club for Tito Vilanova's Barcelona. Former boss Pep Guardiola regularly insisted that he would "share the credit with Tito". We know know what he meant.

Recent head-to-head

September 2005 was the last time Barça won at the Benito Villamarín in the league; they have not won there in four previous visits. The most recent was seven months ago: Dani Alves was sent off and Sergio Busquets scored in a 2-2 draw.

Goalscorer betting

Rubén Castro scored two goals in Betis's win over Deportivo last week, taking his tally to eight goals in twelve starts. He is now 4th in the scoring charts behind Messi, Ronaldo and Falcao - perhaps the three best players in the world. He is 10.50 to score first and 3.70 anytime.

If the main man is missing then it's up to the others to step up to the plate. Both David Villa and Cesc Fàbregas have five league goals this campaign and are at 4.80 and 6.75 for the first goal respectively. Utility player Adriano has four in the league for the season and is a great 24.00 for the opener.

Verdict

Barcelona are obviously a fantastic team both collectively and individually, but the loss of the best player in the world could have derailed their run. It could make a difference here should he not play a part, though they should continue to steamroller their opponents. Barcelona to win is 1.30.

Bonus bet

There have been 30 goals in the most recent six meetings between the sides, so expect goals aplenty. Both teams to score is 1.65, whilst over 4.5 goals is 3.35

Score prediction: Real Betis 1-3 Barcelona (11.50)