Live on Sky Sports 1. Kick off 8pm
Barcelona travel to Malaga on Sunday looking to maintain their flawless record in 2013.
Lionel Messi picked up his fourth ballon d’Or last week and is the obvious favourite at evens (Paddy Power) to follow it up with a fifth next year. The Argentine got off the mark for the year with a goal from the penalty spot in a comfortable 4-0 win against city rivals Espanyol last week.
Barca were 4-0 up after just twenty-nine minutes so could afford to relax for the rest of the game. The Catalans then breezed through their Copa Del Rey second leg against Segunda side Cordoba, cruising to a 5-0 win. David Villa looked back to his best in scoring a first half double but was forced off injured later in the match and will miss this weekend’s game.
This match will be the first of a double header between the sides with a meeting at the Nou Camp to follow on Tuesday in the Copa Del Rey quarter finals first leg. Malaga set up the clah with a 4-1 win over Eibar midweek, their third straight win at home with the previous victory coming against Real Madrid just before the winter break.
Question marks over player motivation following the club’s suspension from future European competition remain after Manuel Pelligrino’s side were defeated away to bottom placed Deportivo last weekend but we would expect the visit of arguably the best team in the world to stimulate any deflation the side may be feeling.
Having won seventeen and drawn with Real Madrid, Barcelona should be too strong for the seasiders though. Odds of 4/9 (BetVictor) are amongst the biggest price Barca have been all season and it would be foolish not to take advantage particularly after Malaga’s loss last week. Barcelona have started 2013 with consummate ease and are showing signs of invincibility.
The Catalans have won twelve and drawn one of the last thirteen meetings between the sides and only one of those wins has been by a single goal. On all other occasions barca have enjoyed at least a two goal cushion and we are betting that run to continue at odds of 6/5 (Blue Square).
Barcelona (-1) at odds of 6/5 with Blue Sq