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This is the equivalent to tipping the visitors to win by a three-goal margin or more – something that should be well within their grasp given Cadiz’s struggles.
Back Barcelona -2.5 (+170) in the spread betting market.
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Barcelona’s squad underwent considerable change over the summer, and a disappointing 0-0 draw with Rayo Vallecano on the opening weekend hinted that it might take a while for a new-look side to gel. That has not proved to be the case. Barcelona thrashed Real Sociedad 4-1 on matchday two, showcasing their immense attacking firepower despite a patchy all-round display.
Xavi Hernandez’s side then eased to victories over Real Valladolid (4-0) and Sevilla (3-0), a pair of wins which has seen their La Liga title odds shorten. Real Madrid remain the favorites (although there is not much in it), while Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool are among the teams more fancied to go all the way in the Champions League, but there is a growing belief that Barcelona’s much-changed squad does not in fact require a season to bed in. This is a team which looks ready to challenge for the biggest trophies in the game immediately.
Barcelona’s 3-0 victory over Sevilla last weekend was their most impressive yet. Granted, Julen Lopetegui’s side are stuck in a rut for which the ex-Real Madrid coach may pay the ultimate price. But the Blaugrana deserve credit for taking full advantage of their opponents’ slump. Sevilla actually started brightly, but Barcelona soon took the game away from them with quick-fire goals from Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski, before Eric Garcia added a third early in the second half.
With Real Madrid having long since wrapped up the title, the drama on the final weekend of the 2021/22 La Liga season centered on the bottom of the table rather than the top. Alaves and Levante had already had their demotions confirmed, but there was still one relegation spot to fill and three teams fighting to avoid it: Cadiz, Mallorca and Granada.
Cadiz were in the most immediate danger, as they sat 18th after 37 rounds of fixtures. But a 1-0 win against Alaves, who were already planning for life in the Segunda Division, was enough to keep them up after Granada failed to beat Espanyol at home. Los Piratas lived to fight another La Liga day, although survival was once again the objective going into the current campaign.
Cadiz have made a poor start. They, Monza (Serie A) and Bochum (the Bundesliga) are the only three teams competing in one of Europe’s top five leagues to have zero points to their name. Cadiz have lost all four games, despite having yet to come up against one of the big three in Spain. They have not even scored a goal yet, losing to nil to Real Sociedad, Osasuna, Athletic Club and Celta Vigo.
Cadiz began the campaign as one of the favorites for relegation and nothing we have seen in the opening weeks suggests that the best online sportsbooks were wrong. Unless he can oversee a shock victory over Barcelona this weekend, Sergio Gonzalez may find himself out of a job sooner rather than later.
When Xavi Hernandez was at the peak of his powers as a player, Barcelona were defined by their midfield three. Alongside Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, Xavi formed part of a world-class trio that helped Pep Guardiola’s team win three La Liga titles and two Champions League over a four-year period in which they played some of the most breathtaking soccer in the history of the game. Sure, Lionel Messi was the star player, but Barcelona were defined by their midfield above all else.
The next great team produced at the Camp Nou was Luis Enrique’s treble winners of 2014/15. That side was all about the attacking trident of Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, who wreaked havoc at home and abroad. Despite Xavi’s presence in the dugout, his Barcelona team is more like Luis Enrique’s than Guardiola’s.
The revamped attack featuring Lewandowski, Raphinha and Ousmane Dembele is beginning to fire. Even in their handsome wins against Real Sociedad and Sevilla, Barcelona lost control of the match at times, especially in the first half. But their talent in forward areas dug them out of a hole and ensured they picked up maximum points on both occasions.
Cadiz will struggle to cause Barcelona the problems that Real Sociedad and Sevilla did, so this should be a pretty straightforward assignment for Xavi’s men. Back Barcelona with a -2.5 handicap, otherwise known as a win by a margin of three clear goals or more.
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|Teams||Cadiz vs Barcelona|
|Location||Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla, Cadiz, Spain|
|Time||Saturday, 10 September 2022, 12.30 PM EST|
|How to watch||ESPN+|
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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