Barcelona get their La Liga title defence underway with a home game against Alaves on Saturday evening. Ernesto Valverde’s side only lost one game in winning the league by 14 points last season, but surely Real Madrid will be closer this season, despite losing Cristiano Ronaldo.
Where and when: Nou Camp – 18 August, kick-off 21:15
Where you can see Barcelona vs. Alaves: Eleven Sports, William Hill live streaming
Last time: Alaves took the lead when the teams met at the Nou Camp in January, but a late Lionel Messi winner sealed the points for the hosts.
Barcelona v Alaves Predictions and Preview
Barcelona are going for their fifth straight victory over Alaves on Saturday, after scoring 13 goals in their last four games against Abelardo’s side. However, the Basques did beat Barca in their own back yard before that run, winning 2-1 at the Nou Camp less than two years ago.
It’s been another summer of transition for Barcelona. After losing Neymar last year, they now look forward to a future without midfield maestro Andres Iniesta, who’s moved on to a new challenge in Japan. Paulinho has also gone back to China, leaving Valverde to remodel the heart of his team.
|Barcelona to win 2-1||11/1||Offer|
|Messi to score first||17/10||Offer|
|Barca to win and both teams to score||2/1||Offer|
To that end, experienced Chile international Arturo Vidal has been brought in, while 20-year-old Brazilian Arthur look to be one for the future. The Barca boss may decide to start his compatriot Philippe Coutinho in a deeper role for this game, against an Alaves side that finished 14th in La Liga last season.
The Blaugrana are massive favourites for the win, priced at 1/9. There’s little value with them in the outright market, so you’ll need to add some other selections to your bet to improve the odds. Alaves have scored on each of their last five visits to the Nou Camp, with Barca priced at 2/1 to win with both teams scoring.
Alaves are a massive 55/1 in the same market, or 30/1 in the outright betting. The Babazorros will look to take advantage of any lack in cohesion in the Iniesta-less Barca side. There’s certainly been signs of that in pre-season with defeats against Roma and AC Milan, although Barca came from behind to beat Sevilla in the Spanish Super Cup.
Abelardo’s tough task isn’t helped by a number of injuries, with Ibai Gomez, Ruben Duarte, Guillermo Maripan and Rodrigo Ely all doubts for the game. A draw would certainly be a welcome result for the visitors, and that’s priced at 43/4 in the betting.
One to watch for Barcelona: Messi had a disappointing World Cup – his wonder goal against Nigeria aside – and will be looking to get back to top form with his club. Barca’s No.10 is 17/10 to score the first goal of the game.
One to watch for Alaves: John Guidetti was the man who put Alaves in front on their last trip to the Nou Camp. He didn’t manage a goal for Sweden at the World Cup, but he’s 19/1 to break the deadlock on Saturday.
Long shot: Taking confidence from their good start last season and the 2-1 victory at the Nou Camp a couple of years ago, Alaves will look for an upset. You can back them at 80/1 to win this game 2-1.