BILLY BUNTER

Weblog: The football punter

Barcelona v Levante betting preview

Twelve months ago, when Barcelona’s round-of-16 Copa del Rey tie against Celta Vigo was hanging in the balance, Ernesto Valverde wheeled out the big guns and normal service was resumed.

Valverde put his faith in the second team last January for the first leg, a trip to Vigo which ended 1-1.

A week later and with wrongs to be righted, the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez were recalled and Barca duly won 5-0 in the return. They would go on to win the cup.

Presumably, having lost 2-1 at Levante last week Valverde has some big names to recall which should ensure a home win for the league leaders.

The last thing Levante need is a Messi recall. The little Argentinian has scored 19 goals against the club from Valencia over the years, the last three of which came in a 5-0 romp in La Liga just before Christmas.

Paco Lopez’s men have been in decent enough form and were gallant in defeat by just one goal at Atletico on Sunday.

But they are only four points clear of the bottom three and they meet one of the sides between them and the drop zone – Valladolid – at the weekend. That has to be Lopez’s focus.

Recommendation
Barcelona & both teams to score

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Match in Focus

14:00 Su 18Aug SKY

Sheff Utd v Crystal Palace

Home WinDrawAway Win
Expert verdict
Crystal Palace held Everton to a goalless draw on the opening day and they could play out another low-scoring affair when they take on Sheffield United. Palace lacked guile last weekend while the Blades also look a little short going forward and may struggle to break their visitors down.