European Soccer Preview, Feb 22-25: Pivotal Match for Barcelona at the Top of La Liga

European Soccer Preview, Feb 22-25: Pivotal Match for Barcelona at the Top of La Liga article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured: Barcelona and Sevilla clashing

  • Barcelona have widened their gap over Real Madrid at the top of La Liga, but they've got a pivotal match at Sevilla this Saturday as slight -110 road favorites.
  • While the races in Spain and Italy have clear-cut favorites (Barcelona and Juventus), the German Bundesliga is completely up-for-grabs with Bayern Munich and Dortmund dueling it out.
  • I've scoped the betting market for all the top European leagues this weekend to find out where the public and sharp money is going.

The title races in Italy and Spain widened after last weekend, but Germany’s Bundesliga looks like it’ll come down to the final few weeks.

Bayern Munich gained points on Dortmund for the second straight weekend and are now the -130 favorites to win the title.

Here’s a look at how the public and sharp betting market is shaping up for the top leagues around Europe.

Spain La Liga

Barcelona dropped points two weeks ago but quickly made up for it this past weekend with a 1-0 win over Real Valladolid.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid were upset at home by big underdogs Girona, 2-1, and have now fallen nine points off the pace. It certainly wasn’t the first upset against Real Madrid this year…

Atletico Madrid earned a victory to remain seven points behind Barcelona at the top, but leapfrogged Real Madrid for second-place in the process.

Barcelona are now -1200 favorites to win La Liga with Real Madrid (+1400) and Atletico Madrid (+2000) the only ones that can catch realistically them.

The next El Clasico scheduled in La Liga is March 2 in Madrid.

This weekend will certainly be a challenge for Barcelona as they have to travel to fourth-place Sevilla after an unconvincing 0-0 draw at Lyon in the Champions League.

Odds have been all over the place since opening, ranging from Barcelona -125 to +120, and they currently sit at -105. I do like the over (3) in that game since both teams just haven’t been able to finish scoring chances lately.

The biggest line moves around the market have been toward Celta Vigo (+215), Valladolid (+170) and Atletico Madrid (-170). I agree with the shifts on Celta Vigo and Atletico Madrid, but would be careful betting Valladolid against Real Betis.

Italy Serie A

Juventus remain undefeated in Serie A following a 3-0 win against Frosinone last Friday, and they’ve built a 13-point lead over Napoli at the top of the table. It’s now almost a certainty that they’ll win their eighth consecutive league title.

This weekend, Juventus are one of four clubs in the -200 range to win, and all four have seen line movement in their direction.

Early sharp bettors appear to be on the same side as the casual folk, and I’d expect to see a parlay of Juventus/Napoli/Roma/AC Milan to be a popular public wager as well.

Teams that have seen the most action have been Fiorentina (+220 to +180), Napoli (-180 to -220), Genoa (+150 to +125) and Torino (+275 to +230).

Germany Bundesliga

Bayern Munich came back for a 3-2 victory at Augsburg on Friday and Dortmund drew 0-0 at Nurnberg on Monday, which means the deficit at the top of the table has been cut to three points.

Bayern Munich are now the -130 favorites to win the Bundesliga with Dortmund listed at +110 odds. The two clubs will face each other on April 6th in Munich, and Bayern could very well be top of the table by then.

Similar to last week, seven of the nine matches involve an odds-on favorite of -130 or greater. More than half the matches are listed with a total of 3 or 3.5, so we could see some big scorelines once again.

Line movement has been minimal around the Bundesliga so far with small adjustments toward Hertha Berlin (+1700 to +1500), Leverkusen (+330 to +310) and Frankfurt (-115 to -125).

Other leagues around Europe

France Ligue 1: 

PSG won yet again and don’t look like they’ll be caught at the top of Ligue 1 with a 15-point lead over second-place Lille. A recent victory over Manchester United in the Champions League will also boost their ego as they head into the last few months of the season. Right now their main focus will be on securing a berth into the UCL quarterfinals.

Netherlands Eredivisie:

Holland has had one of the more entertaining title races around Europe with wild results every single weekend. In the most recent matches, league leaders PSV came back from 2-0 down to draw, 2-2, while second-place Ajax took care of business at home, 5-0, over last place NAC Breda.

Now that Ajax have cut the deficit to four points, their title odds have improved from +200 to +150. PSV remain the favorites, but have been slashed from -250 to -200.

Both clubs are heavy favorites this weekend (PSV -180 vs. Feyenoord, Ajax -525 at Den Haag), but bettors shouldn’t count out an upset against either one.

Portugal Primeira Liga:

Another disappointing draw from FC Porto last week means the gap has been narrowed to just one point over Benfica, a club that won their match 10-0 over the weekend. There are now four teams within nine points at the top of the Primeira Liga: Porto (54), Benfica (53), Braga (49) and Sporting Lisbon (45).

All four clubs are favorites to win this weekend, led by Benfica (-715), Braga (-285), Porto (-215) and Sporting (-130).

Want live updates of the action all weekend? Be sure to follow @actionnetsoccer on Twitter for all the latest soccer betting news around the market.