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Barcelona will go back on top of La Liga - at least temporarily - with a victory
Osasuna are going strong this season and looking to pull off a surprise win
Barcelona will take Osasuna seriously, so this could be a low-scoring encounter
The odds for Osasuna vs Barcelona are from the FanDuel sportsbook, where new customers will receive a $1000 no-sweat first bet.
Osasuna’s matches tend to be low-scoring, while Barcelona have the best defensive record in La Liga.
Back over 2.5 goals for this match on Tuesday. (-150)
The La Liga schedule has been staggered of late, and in the battle at the top of the division, Barcelona have been taking to the field before Real Madrid. At the time of writing the Blaugrana occupy the top spot in the table having played one more match than their arch-rivals, who are in action on Monday and Thursday this week.
Barcelona next take to the field on Tuesday, when they will make the trip to Pamplona to face Osasuna. With the upcoming weekend taken up by Copa del Rey fixtures, this will be the last league game Xavi Hernandez’s men play until after World Cup 2022.
Barcelona will be keen to go into the break at the summit of the standings, but that is in Madrid’s hands. Back-to-back triumphs for the champions over Rayo Vallecano and Cadiz would ensure Carlo Ancelotti’s charges are sitting pretty in the first place while the action is ongoing in Qatar.
When assessing the first part of Barcelona’s season, the principal talking point is their early elimination from the Champions League. For the second year on the bounce, the five-time European champions will not be competing in the knockout phase of the continent’s biggest competition.
That is a huge blow, in terms of both prestige and finances. But Barcelona have actually made a fine start to the La Liga campaign. If they do not end the week in the top spot, it will not be for the want of trying. Xavi’s side have won 11 and drawn one of their 13 matches to date. Granted, they did lose to Madrid in the Clasico, but Barcelona have been impressively consistent otherwise.
The best online sportsbooks still have Madrid down as La Liga title favorites, but Barcelona are hot on their heels. A routine 2-0 victory over Almeria last time out underlined the seriousness of their challenge.
It would be a mistake to anticipate this being an easy assignment for Barcelona. Osasuna might not be one of Spanish soccer’s heavyweights - they have never won a La Liga title or a Copa del Rey before - but the Gorritxoak are enjoying an excellent campaign.
Indeed, Osasuna will head into this contest on the cusp of the Champions League qualification spots. Just one point and one place separate them from the top four, while bigger clubs like Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad, Valencia, and Villarreal are beneath them in the table. Thirteen games in and Osasuna are the surprise package of the 2022/23 season to date.
Since winning the promotion to La Liga in 2019, Osasuna have been a model of mid-table consistency under Jagoba Arrasate, finishing 10th, 11th, and 10th. Yet they have rarely troubled the European places in that time.
Osasuna fell away badly at the end of the last term, but they have not let that affect them in recent months. Most impressive was their recovery from a four-game winless streak in which they took just one point from 12 available.
Since that streak ended in the middle of last month, Osasuna have won three and drawn one of their four league matches, the most recent of which was a 2-1 triumph over Celta Vigo at the weekend.
There are still 25 games remaining this season, so no one - least of all Arrasate - will be getting carried away just yet. But a famous win against Barcelona could lead some fans to start dreaming of the Europa League or the Europa Conference League.
With an attacking unit that contains the talents of Robert Lewandowski, Ousmane Dembele, Ansu Fati, Raphinha, and Ferran Torres, it is no surprise that Barcelona are La Liga’s highest scorers (albeit have played one game more than Madrid at the time of writing).
Few would have expected their defensive record to be quite this good, however. Barcelona have conceded only four goals in 13 league games - and three of those came in their defeat by Madrid in the Clasico. That means the Blaugrana have kept a clean sheet in 11 of their 12 other fixtures to date.
That is an extraordinary statistic. Osasuna are a difficult team to play against but they have found the back of the net only 15 times in their 13 outings. If Barcelona were to score just one goal on Tuesday, it will be very difficult for the hosts to emerge triumphant.
We envisage this being a low-scoring encounter. Barcelona will draw confidence from their defensive record, and while they are unlikely to simply sit on a lead should they score first, Xavi’s side will look to manage the game and take the sting out of their opponents’ play.
If Osasuna are to pull off an upset, it will probably be by nicking a goal and then defending for their lives. Go for under 2.5 goals at the Estadio El Sadar.
Teams: Osasuna vs Barcelona
Where: Estadio El Sadar, Pamplona, Spain
When: Tuesday, 8 November 2022, 15.30 PM EDT
How to watch: ESPN+
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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