Yes, friends, we felt the same sadness as you. We thought we’d never see our favourite number 10 in a Barcelona kit again. But Messi is back in action, and you can never bet against a man with six Ballon d’Ors in his living room.
Outside Messi’s world, this week also sees Atletico Madrid kick off their campaign. Early wins are vital for them, given the nature of La Liga’s duopoly, so they need to start on the right foot. Read on for our odds and top predictions.
Messi primed to silence everyone (again!)
Yes, Messi’s desire to leave Barcelona was stronger than Ararma Traore’s desire to hit the gym. Fortunately, the showdown is over and Leo stayed put. He’s now licking his wounds after his “Barcelonismo” was doubted. After 20 years of service, the man who won it all deserves more respect. He has nothing to prove and is an expert in silencing critics. We can’t wait to see his feet do the talking.
With that said, you can get Messi to score at least two goals at 4.60
Time for Real Madrid to win ugly
As we had warned here (you’re welcome), Real Madrid were not going to win their first game. Last weekend’s draw invited unwanted pressure on the reigning champions. It’s Manuel Pellegrini’s Betis up next, who are undefeated in two games. On paper, this match is harder than Hazard’s battle to get in shape after a long vacation.
Madrid know that if they do not win, it’s going to get very complicated. At this stage it does not matter if they play well or badly as the three points are vital. Madrid’s fighting spirit will carry them over the line. After all, a dogged 1-0, or a sexy 4-0, they all count!
Real Madrid to win 1-0: 8.00
Atleti to park the bus
And we don’t say this without reason. Atlético kick off their campaign against last season’s revelations Granada. Defensive minded Diego Simeone has already reversed the team bus onto the Wanda grass to shut shop this Sunday. If it is goals you’re after, head to YouTube for highlights of last season’s Bayern v Barca (sorry Barcelona fans!)
It’s under 2.5 goals here: 1.61
Will Elche fall flat on their Liga return?
Well, the truth is that everything points to it. Elche kick-off against a Real Sociedad team that is playing a tiki-taka style of football that would make Pep Guardiola proud. They’ve even signed David Silva! Sociedad only failed to beat Real Madrid due to Courtois’ heroics last weekend, so this should be fairly one-sided.
Well, taking all that into account all this, it seems that Elche have a better chance of winning than me sticking to my diet. Typing and eating ice cream is never easy!
Real Sociedad wins: 2.10
Glorious away days
We did notice that we have some strong away-day favourites this week. Getafe, Sevilla and Celta all travel, so you can group them in an acca, or bet on them as singles.
Alavés v Getafe: Getafe to win at 2.60
Cádiz v Sevilla: Sevilla to win at 1.75 on Monday night
Valladolid v Celta: Celta Vigo to win at 2.80
All away teams in a combination: 12.74