AUGUST 29: BARCELONA V VILLARREAL

BARCELONA have already notched up their second title of the season after dispersing of a bad-tempered Porto in Monaco last Friday.

Tonight, they get their La Liga defence off the ground with a tricky home clash against Villarreal.

It’s been a long summer for the Valencians with key players Santi Cazorla (who was on target for Malaga last night) and Joan Capdevila leaving the club while the Giuseppe Rossi saga rumbles on, with the Italian currently still at El Madrigal.

Juan Carlos Garrido’s men will have to be at their best to overcome Barca but the bookies believe that’s unlikely to happen and place a massive 16-1 (Victor Chandler) on an away victory.

A couple of things to note, though. Barca could be without their entire regular back four with injuries to Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Dani Alves and Adriano. This might see Sergi Busquets moving into the centre-back role with Javier Mascherano, allowing Cesc Fabregas to complete the greatest midfield in the world.

Barca lost their Primera Liga opener last year to newly-promoted (then newly-relegated) Hercules, so be wary of even the most unlikeliest of results.

It’s difficult not to mention Barcelona and think of goals, so over 2.5 goals is a good shout at 2-5 (Ladbrokes and Boylesports) while Lionel Messi to open the scoring is 11-4 at Ladbrokes. The little Argentine wizard hasn’t let me down so far and to net at any point tonight is 8-13 with Coral.

You won’t get higher than 2-9 on a Barca victory (Coral, Paddy Power and various others) so taking them on a one-goal handicap (8-13 with Betfred) is a good option. A two-goal handicap pays out at 11-8 with Paddy Power.

Fabregas is making his home league debut and he’s my dark horse to be among the goals. He’s 7-5 with Sportingbet.

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