There’s a La Liga title race still firmly on the cards between old foes Barcelona and Real Madrid and it’s Barca who can put the pressure on Real with them playing first, on Saturday, as they travel to Palma to take on relegation threatened Mallorca.
Barca have declared Lionel Messi fit and available to play which is a big boost, they have a near enough fully fit squad with Luis Suarez also back in the fold. Under Quique Setien the Blaugrana have hogged the ball, with a huge emphasis on keeping the ball, quite often they’ve done very little with it though and they’ve struggled against some deep blocks, the home game against Granada stands out.
Interestingly, Barca only rank as the 5th highest team for shots taken per game in La Liga, further showing their propensity to be patient and bide their time before pulling the trigger. You’d expect them to win this one but with both teams having so much to play for I anticipate a cagey encounter which could take a while to get going. Mallorca have been disappointing in front of goal this season, averaging just one goal per game. Their top scorer this season is 36 year old defensive midfielder Salva Sevilla with 7 goals, the majority of those being penalties.
Many stats actually point to goals here but with it being the first game back and the potential of rusty sides I’m happy to back Barcelona to win in a relatively low scoring game. We can get -160 with FanDuel on the away win and under 4.5 goals which looks a generous boost on the straight Barca win. I can see the visitors having a large majority of the ball even if they are in the lead, Mallorca will likely have to play on the counter-attack and they aren’t blessed with pace in forward areas. We get a lot of scorelines on our side here and if Mallorca do manage to notch then we've still got the 2-1 and 3-1 scorelines on side.
Los Bermellones rank as relegation team on the underlying data too so it’s hard to hold out too much hope for them, even if Barcelona’s away form has been a bit hit and miss. I do believe the emission of fans will hamper the teams at the bottom of the table and the individual quality will tell. With that in mind take a Barca win but not to run riot in this one.