La Liga: Malaga vs. Barcelona

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La Ligua: FC Barcelona as Road Favorites over Malaga - Bodog Sports

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The Spanish Primera Division standings say Real Madrid is the No. 1 team in the nation. But don’t be fooled: FC Barcelona have outplayed everyone else in La Liga. You can tell by looking at their goal differentials. The defending champions have outscored their opponents by 2.07 goals per game, compared to 1.66 for Real Madrid. Barcelona would be top of the table right now with some friendlier distribution.

Since  Real Madrid is hogging the spotlight, this Saturday’s match (2:45 PM ET) between Barcelona and Malaga CF could be one of those rare occasions where the champs have some betting value. At press time, Barca are listed as –290 road favourites, with Malaga at +750 and the draw pegged at +425. The Anchovies are one of the weaker teams in La Liga, with a goal differential of minus-0.43 per game. And they’ve won just two of their last 17 league games with five draws along the way.
 

Rebel L

But things didn’t go according to plan for Barca the last time they met. On November 19, the two sides settled for a scoreless draw at Camp Nou, in a match that Lionel Messi sat out because of a stomach virus. The home side was also without Luis Suarez because of a suspension. Messi (25 goals) and Suarez (23 goals) are the leading scorers in the entire league. Neymar (nine goals) is third for Barcelona.

With Messi and Suarez back in uniform, Saturday’s match is the only one of the day with a total of three goals, and the over is priced at –135. Barcelona have seen at least three goals scored in 73% of their matches; they’ve found the back of the net in each of their last 18 matches. Malaga have given up at least one goal in nine straight contests.

This is also the only La Liga match on Saturday with a spread of 1.5 goals. Barcelona are EVEN despite laying those goals, while Malaga are priced at –120 even with the extra +1.5. The underdogs have been a mess ever since UEFA kicked them out of the 2013-14 Europa League for poor finances. They ended up selling their best players in response, and they still haven’t recovered. Be that as it may, Malaga have gone five matches without losing to Barcelona by two goals, and they’re playing at home, where just two of their eight losses thus far were by the required margin. Maybe this won’t be such an epic beatdown after all.

 

 

 

*Odds as of April 6, 2017