La Liga Betting: Real Valladolid v Barcelona



It's been a week of highs and lows for Barcelona off the pitch, as events on the field have naturally played second fiddle. The shocking and saddening news that Tito Vilanova has suffered a relapse on a tumor saw the football world unite in support. "We will wait for him," said President Sandro Rosell, meaning Vilanova's assistant Jordi Roura will take charge for the foreseeable future. As they lose one member of staff to serious illness, another returns: Éric Abidal was finally told that he could rejoin his team-mates in training having recovered from liver cancer.

Miroslav Đukić couldn't be happier: his side sit 8th in the table following last season's promotion to the Primera. Twice they took the lead against Real Madrid, and it took something special to see off their heroic challenge.

Team news

Patrick Ebert has been a big success following his summer move to Spain, but he is out injured, along with Jesús Rueda. Valladolid are expected to name an unchanged team from the one that drew at La Riazor.

Only Cesc Fàbregas remains crocked for Barcelona. Adriano will once again keep Dani Alves out of the starting eleven, in what's likely to be the same side that extended their Liga lead against Atlético Madrid.

Form

Real Valladolid drew 0-0 with bottom side Deportivo in a tight match last weekend, with leading goalscorer Óscar twice being thwarted by Depor keeper Germán Lux. They have lost just two in eight at home (one being against Real Madrid) and both teams have scored in five of those fixtures at the José Zorrilla. Back that to occur again at 1.83.

Radamel Falcao's brilliant chip had Barça worried in the battle of the top two on Sunday night; the Blaugrana hadn't registered a single shot on target until Adriano's thunderbolt drew them level in the 36th minute. Having been outplayed for the opening half hour, Barca's ability to find another gear is just incredible and disheartening for their nearest rivals.

Recent head-to-head

Real Valladolid have not scored in their last four meetings with Barcelona, although it's almost three years since they last met here, with the Catalans comfortable 3-0 winners last time out. It's 1.90 for the home team not to score.

Goalscorer betting

It was far from a vintage Lionel Messi display but he still added another brace against Atléti. He doesn't do solitary strikes anymore: that's the eighth time in his past eight starts that Messi has scored two. He has an incredible 25 goals in the league so far; he had 17 at this stage last season and finished with 50. He extended his contract until 2018 this week, whilst companions Xavi and Puyol penned new deals as well. Back Messi for a further double (or more) at 2.10.

Verdict

It's been a poignant week for Barcelona, which sometimes can drain players. That's unlikely to happen with these superhumans, though. Some things are more important than football, but this is what these athletes know best. A win for Vilanova and a performance to make him proud will be top of the agenda. A Barcelona win is at 1.22.

Bonus bet

Doing it for Tito, Barça should fly out the traps. Playing with their hearts and emotionally charged, they are likely to test the Valladolid goal early on. Should they choose to go to gung-ho, then they may be exposed on the counter attack. There's every possibility of an early strike; a goal in the opening 15 minutes is at 2.75.

Score prediction: Real Valladolid 1-5 Barcelona (28.00)