Barcelona face in-form surprise package Osasuna on Thursday evening. They’ll be looking for a win to keep their faint hopes of retaining the title alive, but know that old rivals Real Madrid will seal it if they win against Villarreal, which kicks off in this penultimate round of fixtures.
Barcelona were top of the table when the season was suspended back in March, and they’ve gone unbeaten in eight league outings since then, but three draws look to have scuppered their chances against a Madrid side that have maintained a 100% winning record.
They’re on a run of three straight wins coming into this fixture and looked to have turned a corner in terms of fulfilling their attacking potential in a 4-1 win over Villarreal, but since then it’s been a pair of nervy 1-0s. Lionel Messi has become the first player in Europe’s top five leagues to register 20+ for both goals and assists since Thierry Henry at Arsenal over 15 years ago.
He’s set to be crowned La Liga’s top scorer yet again, the current frontrunner with 22 goals, but he’s only actual scored one in his last eight appearances. Messi’s just 4/11 to get back to his usual scoring ways here, 15/8 to open the scoring, and 9/2 for a hat-trick.
Osasuna, meanwhile, have continued to have a quietly excellent campaign since their promotion last summer and can still secure an impressive top-half finish. They’ve won four of their last six matches, the latest coming courtesy of an injury-time match-winner from José Arnáiz against Celta Vigo on Saturday (2-1).
We recommend backing Barcelona to get a win here, but only a narrow one. Three of their last five wins have been via just a 1-0 scoreline, and while they’ve been far from their dazzling best, they’ve most often got the job done. A home win is just 1/7, but another 1-0 is 7/1. The Catalan giants to win by a one-goal margin is 3/1.
*All prices correct at the time of writing and subject to change