Barcelona head to Celta Vigo this afternoon with a Champions League trip to Paris St-Germain on Tuesday looming large on the horizon.
Given the way Barca’s European bid almost unravelled with a miserable visit to Milan on their last away day, I would expect caution to be the watchword in the team selection against Celta.
That might well see the likes of Lionel Messi – who vomited during Argentina’s World Cup qualifier with Bolivia at altitude in La Paz – and Andres Iniesta, who started both of Spain’s fixtures in the past two weeks, kept on the substitutes bench after the rigours of the international break.
With the likes of Xavi and Carlos Puyol already on the injury list and Jordi Alba a doubt, it looks set to be a much-depleted Barcelona side taking the field in Vigo.
I wouldn’t expect that to have too much influence on the outcome though, as whatever team they field, Barcelona should stroll to a win at odds of 2/5.
With one win in ten and six losses in their last seven La Liga games, Celta do little to justify their odds of 7/1 for a win or 333/100 for a draw, despite a desperate need to battle for survival.
Should Messi start on the bench, he is more than likely to come on at some point as he seeks the milestone of scoring against every top-flight team this season – Celta are the only La Liga side he is yet to net against.
Having scored in all of his last 18 league matches, Messi can be backed at 8/5 to net the last goal of the match and take that astonishing streak to 19.
If David Villa starts up front instead of the Ballon d’Or winner, his good performance in Barcelona’s last match against Rayo Vallecano would make him a decent 7/2 shout to score first.
Barcelona to win a match with four goals or more is a bet I have liked all season, and with it coming off in eight of the Catalans’ 14 away league fixtures this campaign, it can be taken again at 9/5 on Saturday.