Deportivo La Coruna at home is a fixture that Barcelona could not have handpicked any better as a morale-booster after their recent setbacks.
Poor Deportivo – beset by financial problems – look to be bowing out of La Liga’s top flight with a whimper as they remain stuck at the bottom of the table.
Depor have won just one out of their last 16 league matches, while their last away win in the top flight was in January 2011.
All that hardly bodes well for a 31/2 victory at the Nou Camp, despite Barca’s current problems.
The Catalans should justify their 13/100 nailed-on favourites billing. For all their troubles in recent weeks, defeating domestic also-rans at home has never been a problem this season, and remains a very different task to tackling the likes of Real Madrid and AC Milan.
Tuesday’s decisive Champions League second leg with Milan might see a few big names being rested, but I don’t expect that to have too great an impact on Saturday as this would allow talented second-string figures to stake their claims.
Barcelona’s most recent home league fixture – a 2-1 comeback win over Sevilla – was the first time in six Nou Camp league games that the champions-elect failed to score at least four goals.
Given that record, a 3/4 bet on Barcelona to win a match with four goals or more looks a sound choice.
Deportivo’s defence, the leakiest in the Spanish top flight, has conceded close to 54 per cent of its goals in the first half of matches.
That might make you think Barca will come roaring out of the blocks on Saturday to race into a first-half lead, but I actually think the opposite could happen.
Barcelona might take some time to recover the confidence lost in their defeats. Deportivo have also managed to bolster up and keep clean sheets in the first half of their two most recent fixtures, albeit both at home – most notably in giving Real Madrid a fright before losing 2-1.
On the basis of present form, I like the look of a 23/20 bet on Barca to score more in the second period than the first half.