Barça play hosts to Getafe tomorrow night (Tuesday 8 pm) in the 34th Jornada of La Liga 2014/15. Real Madrid’s 2-4 win at Celta leaves Barça’s advantage at the top of the table back to just two points, making every remaining game a crucial one. Barça are boosted by Thomas Vermaelen receiving medical clearance today and Luis Enrique could include the Belgian defender in his squad for tomorrow’s game.
On paper, Barça’s remaining league games look less complicated than Madrid’s. Following tomorrow’s game with Getafe, Barça play at Cordoba on Saturday before the Champions League semi-final first leg with newly-crowned Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. Then it’s Real Sociedad at Camp Nou followed by the return game in Munich before the final two league games at Atlético Madrid and at home to Deportivo. Madrid on the other hand face Almeria (h) and Sevilla (a) before travelling to Turin to face Juventus in the Champions League. They then face Valencia at the Bernabeu before the return game with Juventus and the final two league games against Espanyol (a) and Getafe (h).
It’s easy to understand why Barça are clear favourites for La Liga. Madrid have three difficult games and seem more likely to drop points while Barça only appear to have one tough game at the Calderón. However, Barça certainly cannot take it for granted that Madrid will slip up as Ancelotti’s team are definitely capable of winning all fifteen of the remaining points in play. At the same time, if Barça underestimate any of the four theoretically easier opponents there could very well be a humbling shock for Luis Enrique’s men.
Getafe should certainly be respected. They may never have won in their ten league visits to Camp Nou but they have taken three draws including last season’s game last May when the game ended 2-2 after Angel Lafita scored an injury time equalizer, seriously denting Barça’s title chances. Then earlier this season Barça could only manage a disappointing 0-0 draw when the teams met at the Coliseum, bringing an end to Barça’s eight-game winning streak.
The Barça coach will no doubt be hoping to rest some of his key men in the two league games before facing Bayern on May 5. With Jordi Alba suspended after his red card at Espanyol we might expect three or four more first-choice players to be rested tomorrow with a similar number rested against Cordoba.
We all know about Leo Messi’s dislike at being rested and he may well continue playing every minute until the end of the season. However, it would surely do him good to accept at least being substituted in one of these games to have him as fresh as possible for the Champions League. I wonder if Luis Enrique would consider resting the Argentinian against his will: a risky business that might backfire and perhaps it is not the best moment of the season to upset our star player.
Barça: Bravo; Alves, Bartra, Mathieu, Adriano; Rakitic, Mascherano, Xavi; Messi, Suárez, Pedro.
Getafe: Guaita; Vigaray, Alexis, Velázquez, Escudero; Lacen, Juan Rodriguez; Pedro Leon, Hinestroza, Castro; Babá.
My bet: correct score – Barça 3 Getafe 1 (current odds 13.00). The best odds for soccer betting are at William Hill.
Date: Tuesday 28 April 2015. Kick-off 8 pm local time.