Barcelona vs Almeria Prediction: Back the Second Half to provide the action

 | December 19 | 

5 mins read

barcelona Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys scaled

La Liga holds a midweek round this week and at the Nou Camp, Barcelona get a chance ro run up the score against lowly Almeria but will they?

Our La Liga expert Mark Sochon isn't so sure as he previews the match for us here on Betfred Insights...

Barcelona vs Almeria Betting Tips:

  • Back Almeria+3 on the Handicap @ 4/5
  • Back Highest Scoring Half - Second Half @ 10/11

Barcelona have gone three matches without a win in all competitions since defeating Atletico Madrid at the Estadi Olimpic earlier this month. Rock bottom Almeria provide the opposition in La Liga on Wednesday with this game an early 18:00 kick-off on Viaplay.

On paper, this appears to be a mismatch with Almeria the only remaining winless team in Europe’s big five leagues. Barring a miracle, they are heading for relegation and a return to the Segunda Division after just two years in the top flight.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean this game will be a stroll in the park for Barcelona. The Catalans have plenty of problems of their own right now with a draw at Mestalla on Saturday meaning they are now nine points behind surprise leaders Girona and seven behind Real Madrid.

Barca played quite well against Valencia and should have won the game in the Second Half with Pedri and particularly Frenkie de Jong playing some wonderful through balls which frequently sliced open the home defence. Those are certainly some positives for Xavi to cling to with his critics growing louder, but the Barcelona boss also has clear issues to address at both ends of the pitch.

They’ve let in eight goals in their last three matches alone and it’s just once clean sheet in eight in all competitions. While Iñaki Peña has done quite well in goal, the absence of the calming presence of Marc-Andre ter Stegen may have contributed to the defensive uncertainty we’re currently seeing.

At the other end, the consistently inconsistent Joao Felix and particularly an out of sorts Robert Lewandowski are also a cause for concern. With the absence of another senior striker in the squad, Xavi currently has little choice but to persist with the former Bayern man who has missed a host of good chances in recent weeks.

Had it come earlier in the season, this match may have represented little more than shooting practice for Barcelona with Almeria a defensive disaster until the appointment of Gaizka Garitano in October.

Garitano hasn’t exactly resurrected their campaign or provided any real solutions when it comes to winning football matches. However, punters should be aware that Almeria’s dreadful defensive record can largely be attributed to what happened in the opening couple of months of the season.

With a much more cautious approach, Almeria have only let in ten goals in their last seven, having shipped 29 in their opening ten games, all but one of which came before Gartiano’s appointment.

It’s also worth considering what was quite a strong display from Almeria in their most recent away game, where they had 19 attempts on goal in the 2-1 defeat against an Atletico Madrid side that boasts a 100% home record this term.

Team News:

Barcelona are missing their weekend man of the match Frenkie de Jong to suspension here which is another blow as they bid to build some continuity and rediscover some form. Fermin Lopez, Sergi Roberto and Oriol Romeu are options to replace the Dutchman.

They have no fresh injury absentees but Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Marcos Alonso, Gavi and Iñigo Martinez will again sit this one out.

Almeria also have one notable midfield suspension with Lucas Robertone sidelined. He’s also carrying an injury, joining a lengthy Almeria absentee list which includes Luis Suarez, Gonzalo Melero and Ibrahima Kone.

Iddrisu Baba may slot into the visiting midfield in one of the few changes from the side that drew 0-0 at home to Mallorca last time out. They are likely to go with three centre-backs again here, a switch which has contributed to some of their defensive improvements.

Match Odds:

Barcelona are red hot favourites at 1/8 to defeat to La Liga’s bottom club. You can back the Draw at 8/1 while Almeria are 16/1 to claim their first victory at the season at the temporary home of the defending champions.

There’s surely little prospect of that, but they’ll fancy they can ask a few questions of an uncertain home defence. You can back Barcelona and Both Teams to Score at 5/4 while Barcelona to Win to Nil is priced at 19/20.

If you fancy a first goalscorer punt, despite his current struggles, Robert Lewandowski is the clear favourite at 11/5 to fire in the first goal. Joao Felix is available at 5/1 while Ilkay Gundogan looks like pretty good value at 10/1 to score first and 5/2 to score anytime.

Bet 1 - Almeria +3 Handicap @ 4/5

One really striking statistic heading into this match is that Barcelona have now gone 17 games in all competitions without winning by more than a single goal.

While a home match against La Liga’s bottom club does offer them a decent opportunity to end that streak, on current form and particularly with De Jong missing, it’s hard to see them running riot here against an Almeria side that has made defensive improvements in recent weeks.

The visitors do have one or two individuals who are capable of offering an attacking threat on the break too and I’m backing Almeria +3 Handicap at 4/5.

Bet 2 - Highest Scoring Half - Second Half @ 10/11

Anyone tuning in at Half Time of Barcelona matches this season will often not have missed much with their games typically opening up after the interval. That was the case again on Sunday with both goals in their 1-1 draw against Valencia coming in the Second Half.

At the Estadi Olimpic in the league this season, there have been nine First Half goals in total and 18 Second Half goals and a huge 56% of Barca strikes have come after the 75th minute and I’m backing Highest Scoring Half - Second Half at 10/11 here.

You can check out Mark's La Liga Betting Tips along with those from the rest of the Betfred Insights Spanish Football writers on our La Liga home page...

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