Defending champions FC Barcelona opens its title retention bid against Alaves on Saturday, August 18, 2018 at Camp Nou. Coached by Ernesto Valverde, the Catalans strolled to the La Liga title last season and now head into the new campaign as the favorites to win it all again.
Barcelona scored 99 goals last season and picked up 93 points in the process. The Catalans finished a mammoth 14 points ahead of second placer Atletico Madrid in the top division of Spanish Football.
This season looks to be no different for Barca as chief rivals Real Madrid suffered serious losses during the offseason. First, Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane quit his post. Then superstar Cristiano Ronaldo left for greener pastures and joined Italian giant Juventus. With a huge void and a period of adjustment seen, Barcelona’s path to the La Liga crown this year may be easier.
First things first though and for Barca, the first order of business is a season opener against Alaves on Saturday.
Since returning to Spain’s top flight soccer league, Alaves has finished 9th and 14th while avoiding relegation on both instances. But Alaves faced trouble in the final third, scoring just 40 goals or an average of barely over one goal per game. Against a machine like Barcelona, that could very well be a problem.
Manager Abelardo, a former Barcelona defender, completed a permanent deal for striker John Guidetti after the Swedish footballer impressed while on loan since January 2018. Guidetti should strengthen Alaves’ attacking options. Alaves also added Ghana right winger Patrick Twumasi and Borja Baston from Swansea.
Alaves concluded its preseason with a 1-2 defeat at home against the newly promoted Huesca last week. The visiting team got on board first following a score by Alex Gallar but the home team got even after a strike from Guidetti just before the 60 minute mark. But victory was meant to be for the visitors as Gallar struck again almost immediately.
Despite the loss, the Vitoria-based side finished their preseason with three wins, four draws and two losses. Alaves is hoping to bring back the form that helped them win five of their last seven games at the end of last season
La Liga: Barcelona vs Alaves 8/18/18 Odds
Odds: Barcelona -1000, Alaves +2000
Odds from Betway as of 8/17/18
Spanish Super Cup Win
Barcelona lost Andres Iniesta to Vissel Japan and Paulinho to a loan deal with Guangzhou Evergrande. However, they have added Arturo Vidal from Bayern Munich to bolster their midfield. Barcelona also added Malcolm, Arthur and Clement Lenglet.
Barcelona is fresh off a victory at the Spanish Super Cup last weekend where they defeated Sevilla 2-1 on the strength of a late strike from Samuel Dembele. After that win, the defending La Liga champions returned home for the annual Joan Gamper Trophy where they blanked the visiting Boca Juniors from Argentina 3-0.
Malcolm drilled a 12 yard left footed shot in his first Game at Camp Nou to give the Catalans the early lead. Messi followed it up with a goal of his own to make it 2-0 in favor of FC Barcelona. Rafinha completed the rout after scoring from a lofted Luis Suarez pass early in the second half. Valverde then almost emptied his bench to finish the match.
Here are the predicted lineups for both sides:
Barcelona is coming off a 2-1 Spanish Super Cup victory over Sevilla last Sunday. They scored a La Liga leading 99 goals last season or an average of 2.5 goals per game. And yes, they only lost once in the league last season and it was in the final round.
The Catalans were a formidable force at Camp Nou last season. Of the 19 games played there, they won 16 times and forced a draw in the other three matches. Barcelona beat Alaves in their two meetings last year with Barca winning 2-0 at home and 2-1 on the road. You can expect them to desire a more convincing victory this time around.
It can be recalled though that the last time that Barcelona lost at Camp Nou in La Liga play was when Alaves beat them in September 2016. But that isn’t likely going to happen, not with how Barcelona has become much better since that defeat.
We’re picking Barcelona to beat Alaves on 8/18/18.