Barcelona open their Copa del Rey campaign with a trip to L’Hospitalet this evening, with the first leg of the tie having been brought forward a month due to the reigning Champions League winners’ involvement in December’s Club World Cup in Yokohama.
The scheduling of the tie has increased the possibility of an upset, with Barca without a number of their leading players due to international commitments.
Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano, Dani Alves, Adriano, Alexis Sanchez and Thiago Alcantara will all be missing having been called up to represent their country at senior or U21 level, meaning L’Hospitalet are priced at a relatively short 13/2 to beat Barca, with the draw at 25/4.
To put this into context, Real Zaragoza, Barca’s next opponents in La Liga, are priced at 20/1 to beat last year’s league winners at Camp Nou, while Getafe are available at 14/1 to pick up three points when Barca next play a league game away from home.
However, despite the fact that manager Pep Guardiola will not have a full complement of players to choose from, punters should not be fooled into thinking this game will end in anything other than an easy Barcelona victory.
For while Guardiola has been forced to call five reserve players into his matchday squad, he still has a host of stars to choose from.
Although Messi, Mascherano and co have joined up with their international teams, and Pedro and Ibrahim Affelay are injured, Barca’s senior Spanish contingent are still available, as are France international Eric Abidal and Mali’s Seydou Keita.
And with Guardiola obliged to field at least seven players from his regular first team squad, the likes of Carlos Puyol, Abidal, Keita, Cesc Fabregas and David Villa could all still play.
Chances of an upset are further reduced by Barcelona’s record against teams in their opening Copa del Rey match of the season under Guardiola.
Benidorm, Cultural Leonesa and Cueta have all been beaten in the away leg before being finished off at Camp Nou, suggesting Barca are more than capable of exposing the gulf in class when they face Division 2B team L’Hospitalet.
With this in mind, a win for Barca in bwin’s 3Way football betting market is the way to go, although at 4/25 it is worth looking at other markets to increase potential winnings.
One bet worth considering is the 11/5 on there to be five or more goals in the game, which looks a good one considering Barca put five past Mallorca on 29th October and four past Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League on 1st November.
And while Barca conceded twice in their last league match against Athletic Bilbao, they had kept nine consecutive clean sheets prior to that game.
As such, a 4-0, 5-0 or 6-0 multiple correct scoreline bet could pay off at odds of 4/1.
A successful £25 free bet on Barca to win 4-0, 5-0 or 6-0 would return £125, with the free bet available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account.
New customers can register here to claim their free £25 bet or click here to see all our La Liga odds.
Follow us on Twitter @bwinbetting