Barcelona will be looking to jump start their fading title challenge when they welcome surprise league leaders Real Sociedad to the Camp Nou on Wednesday evening.
Barcelona have had a tumultuous start to this La Liga campaign with their five wins, two draws and four losses from their 11 outings only good enough for the eighth spot on the table, four points adrift of the top four slot. Ronald Koeman got a much-needed relief with the narrow 1-0 win over Levante, thanks to a late Lionel Messi goal.
Messi has been the subject of discussions around the club following his public spat with management over the summer as he tried to engineer an exit. That did not play out to his wishes as the club stood their ground. Speculations are still rife about his possible departure this summer on what is going to be a free transfer.
With further home games against Real Betis and Osasuna in the horizon, Koeman’s focus will be to gain maximum points from this homestand to serve as a launchpad back into title contention and he will need his talisman to do that.
A sizzling start to the season for Real Sociedad appears to have dissipated in recent weeks with the club getting stuck in a rut, drawing their last six games across all competitions, which includes three straight draws in the league. They still remain in first place in the league, but the draws have allowed second-placed Atletico to close the game as they are now tied on 26 points, but significantly, Atleti has two games in hand.
Injuries to some of their key players has been their major undoing. 23-year-old club captain Oyarzabal who lit up the league to start the season and veteran David Silva have perhaps been the most critical missing pieces from their jigsaw puzzle after sustaining injuries that have kept them out of these last few games.
Coach Imanol Alguacil will have to make the most of the players he has at his disposal.
With Atletico breathing down their necks, Sociedad cannot afford to drop more points in Catalonia. With key players out, Real Sociedad’s defence has been their key calling card. They have only let in 6 goals in their last 10 matches across all competitions and we expect more of the same approach as they seek to put some clamps on the Blaugrana, who themselves haven’t been the free-flowing, free-scoring team we have been accustomed to for many years. We expect a closely contested game especially at the start with neither side ceding too much ground to the other. We fancy Under 1.5 first-half goals @ 1.61 with Odibets as our first betting tip.
Despite their many problems, Barcelona have performed well enough at the Camp Nou. They have a record of 7W, 1D and 2L in their last 10 home games across all competitions. We expect them to play with desperation here from the kickoff and we are backing to score the first goal of the match @ 1.48 with Odibets free bet as our final shout for this clash.
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