17th of August 2018 Author: Johnny Karp
Title holders Barcelona kick off their LaLiga campaign on Saturday evening when they host Deportivo Alaves at Camp Nou. Last season the Blaugrana defeated Alaves in both league matches, but none of them was easy: 2-1 at home and 2-0 away. Those two results extended Barcelona's winning streak over Alaves to four games, but before those the underdogs pulled off a huge upset by winning 2-1 at Camp Nou in LaLiga. Overall, Barcelona have won nine of their last ten matches against Alaves.
Barcelona have gone through some squad changes this summer, several players left the club but only one of them was a key player: Andres Iniesta. The others, including the likes of Yerry Mina and Lucas Digne, who joined Everton, were fringe players at best at Camp Nou. On the other hand the Blaugrana brought in some exciting young prospects like Malcom and Arthur, while Clement Lenglet and Arturo Vidal can slot right into the first team. Last week Barcelona kicked off their season with a 2-1 victory over Sevilla in the Spanish Super Cup, with Gerard Pique and Ousmane Dembele providing the goals. Denis Suarez is the only injury concern for head coach Ernesto Valverde ahead of this match.
Alaves were very happy to avoid relegation from LaLiga last season, head coach Abelardo managed to turn things around for them after taking charge during the campaign. This summer they brought in Swedish striker John Guidetti from Celta Vigo in an attempt to improve their attack, and they didn't sell any of their players. That means head coach Abelardo can count on a squad that already knows what he wants from them and that could be a big advantage at the start of the new campaign. Adrian Dieguez is suspended for Saturday's match, while Rodrigo Ely is injured.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen - Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba - Coutinho, Busquets, Rakitic - Messi, Suarez, Dembele
Alaves: Pacheco - Aguirregabiria, Navarro, Laguardia, Duarte - Jony, Garcia, Wakaso, Gomez - Sobrino, Guidetti
My prediction: Barcelona to win 2-0, the Blaugrana won't have an easy match but they should prevail.
Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:
Barcelona win: 1.11
Alaves win: 21.00
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