Magical Lionel Messi should drive Barca to La Liga glory
Unbeaten Barcelona are top of the tree in La Liga and the Catalans will be determined to stay there, not least because of the political situation in Spain. But traditional rivals Real Madrid are likely to put up a bold bid to chase them down in the second half of the season.
Real have not been at the top of their game and are 11 points adrift of Barca with a game in hand. Much hinges on the first Clasico of the season which takes place at the Bernabeu just before Christmas.
Barca manager Ernesto Valverde commented that the title can’t be decided at the weekend but a victory would give La Blaugrana a lead that Madrid might find insurmountable unless they are at their very best.
That has seldom been the case in a frustrating season where Zinedine Zidane’s team have struggled to score goals with their usual ruthless regularity.
A fully-fit and firing Los Blancos would have a chance of reeling in the leaders but providing Messi stays fit they've got a lot of ground to make up and city rivals Atletico Madrid could yet emerge as Barcelona’s biggest title rivals.
Diego Simeone’s team are also unbeaten and have won four on the bounce but draws have hampered their title chances. Valencia seem unlikely to stay the pace for the entire season despite showing major improvement under Marcelinho.
The relegation betting is interesting with the current bottom three of Alaves, Malaga and Las Palmas odds-on to go down but Levante, promoted from the Segunda last season, could be the value for the drop.
The Frogs went unbeaten in picking up nine points from their opening five games back in Spain’s top flight but only eight have followed in 11 matches since and they rank bottom of the league for shots on target. Levante’s failure to score could prove to be their undoing and looks a more likely scenario than the odds suggest.
Already advised by Joe Champion
Real Madrid to win La Liga
4pts 11-10 Betway
Villarreal top-four finish
1pt 5-1 bet365, Sky Bet
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