Barcelona have had a poor season by their high standards, finishing second in La Liga and falling out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage. But there is the opportunity to find a silver lining when they meet Alaves in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday and they should ensure they finish the season with some silverware.
Alaves have done well to make it this far, but their fans must fear the worst. It finished 6-0 when these two met in February on Alaves’ turf, with a Luis Suarez brace, an own goal from Alexis and further strikes from Neymar, Lionel Messi and Ivan Rakitic condemning Alaves to a comprehensive defeat. There is a small glimmer of hope for them, as they beat Barcelona 2-1 at the Nou Camp back in September, but the ruthless nature of Barcelona’s revenge makes the outlook pretty pessimistic for them.
Regardless of what happens, it has been a superb season for Alaves. They were playing in the second division last season and were destined to battle bravely against relegation in their first season in the top flight. Instead, they have finished ninth, ahead of several big clubs, and reached the cup final. They have done so thanks to defensive solidity. Alaves have the fifth best defensive record in the league, conceding only two more than champions Real Madrid and only six more than Barcelona. They are not too ambitious going forwards and scored the lowest number of goals of any team in the top 16, but they are a tough nut to crack.
That is rarely a problem for Barcelona, however, as the Catalans are used to making a mockery of strong defensive records. They proved it against Alaves in February, and while Suarez will miss the game through injury, they have plenty of firepowers. It will be Luis Enrique’s last game in charge of the club and he will be keen to finish on a high by successfully defending this trophy, which they won last year by beating Sevilla 2-0.
Barcelona should be too strong for Alaves in all departments really and can expect to wrap up a pretty comprehensive victory. Given Alaves’ poor goal scoring record it seems likely that Barcelona will keep a clean sheet here. Barcelona to win to nil looks good at 1.85 with Bet Victor. Barcelona should enjoy the lion’s share of possession. They keep the ball so well and will be patient, so you can expect chances to be few and far between for this Alaves side. Their top scorer this season was Deyverson, who notched just seven goals, followed by Edgar Menez with four. These are not prolific strikers to drive fear into the hearts of Barcelona’s defenders.
By contrast, Messi has scored 37 for Barca, while Suarez has 28 and Neymar has 13. Even without Suarez, Messi, Neymar, and Rakitic should be able to put Alaves to the sword. Messi to break the deadlock by scoring the first goal at odds of 3.25 with Bet365 and various others look a good bet, or a more cautious Messi to score at any time at odds of 1.44 is another option.
To get any sort of value on the Asian handicaps, you have to go to Barcelona -2, which is 1.79 with Bet Victor. Barcelona should cover it, but you never know as nerves sometimes creep in on the big day, and Alaves could frustrate Barca. Barcelona 2-0 is 7.00 and Barcelona 3-0 is 7.50, both with Bet Victor, and they look the most likely outcomes, so you could spread your stake across those correct scores.