The news that Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova has undergone surgery to renew a battle against cancer brought plenty of reflection and goodwill from football fans across the world this week.
His assistant Jordi Roura is set to take charge of the side in Saturday’s trip to Real Valladolid.
While the mood at the Nou Camp has been understandably quiet this week, expect Barcelona’s players to demonstrate their support for their coach while doing what they do best – winning matches.
Victory at eighth-placed Valladolid would complete an unbelievable end to 2012 with the club’s 16th win in 17 La Liga matches this season.
Given their remarkable form it is no surprise to see Barca priced as low as 1/5 on to continue their 100 per cent away league record on Saturday.
Real Valladolid have a decent home record on their return to the top flight this season, but their 12/1 price for beating Barcelona doesn’t look great when you consider that, if you exclude Clasicos, the Catalan giants have not lost for some 30 La Liga fixtures.
21/4 is the price for a draw should Barca unexpectedly drop a pair of points for the second time this season.
Betting on a big Barca win looks a more fruitful option – especially a 6/5 bet that the Catalans will win a game with four or more goals.
In fact, as nine out of Barcelona’s last 11 league matches have resulted in this exact scenario, these odds seem a bargain.
Backing Lionel Messi to grab a few goals is another obvious one to go for on recent form.
Super odds of 7/5 are available for Messi to score two or more goals – not bad for a player who has managed that feat in each of his last six league appearances and in seven of his eight away league matches this season.