Wednesday’s installment of what is a rare midweek round for La Liga throws up a couple of interesting fixtures, with The Big Two in action. With Atletico having won last night and climbed to the top of the heap, let’s take a look at Réal and Barcelona’s chances of displacing them.
Celta Vigo vs. Barcelona
Barcelona have had a stuttering start to the season (although they have still taken 12 points from 4 games). The usual talk about the shaky defence is being bandied about, though few realise they were the best defensive team in Europe last year and an early season wobble doesn’t spell the end. Under the most scrutiny is Marc-André ter Stegen whose Neuer-lite goalkeeping style has Blaugrana fans cowering in fear whenever a cross is delivered to the box. Getting caught napping against Roma last week and making a horrendous botched punch to gift Levante a goal at the weekend might have Luis Enrique thinking twice about putting him between the sticks once Claudio Bravo returns from injury.
Despite Messi not setting the world alight with wonder goals just yet, he’s contributing enough to keep his team plugging on. Having Neymar and Suarez as backup means there is plenty of room for any of the front 3 to have an off day without it affecting Barca’s chances too much.
Celta Vigo are riding high with 10 points from 4 games this year and will be looking to keep their tails up and come out and put a little pressure on their former manager’s team. That said they probably don’t have enough to keep Barca from winning, but we like ‘both teams to score’ at 4/7 odds.
Athletic Bilbao vs. Real Madrid
Madrid have a tougher task tonight with a visit to the Basque country in front of them. Although Athletic have had a stuttering start to the campaign on paper things may not be as bad as they look. Their La Liga losses have come at the hands of Barcelona, away to Valencia, and Eibar. The first 2 are results that the San Mamés faithful aren’t likely to be too put out by, though obviously losing to Eibar isn’t pretty. Elsewhere they gave Barcelona a good game in the 2nd leg of the Super Copa, and have got off to a winning start in the Europa League.
For Madrid, Ronaldo is scoring like a man possessed, even more so than usual. Madrid definitely need a win here to keep up with Barcelona. A draw couple with a Barcelona win would see them 4 points adrift after just 5 games. Obviously there’s plenty of time to right that wrong, but Flores and friends will certainly be starting to get edgy.
I fancy Bilbao to hang on for a draw at the noisy San Mémes, and Ronaldo to get his name on the scoresheet first at a whopping 20/1!