It’s another double round week in Euroleague as FC Barcelona host Olympiacos in a basketball battle that wouldn’t look out of place on the football field
Olympiacos ride a seven game win streak in all competitions into Palau Blaugrana but they are clear underdogs against a FC Barcelona side that is rounding into form nicely.
Who: FC Barcelona (13-6) vs Olympiacos (11-8)
Where: Palau Blaugrana, Barcelona
When: Wednesday 10 January at 20.30 CET, 19.30 UK/Ireland, 14.30 EST
Last time out
FC Barcelona completed a sweep of the double round as they won a bruising battle with Baskonia 89-85. That puts the Blaugrana clear in third place in the standings on 13-6, giving them the inside track on home-court advantage in the Euroleague basketball playoffs.
Olympiacos played a wild one at home against Monaco, eventually coming out on top 75-73 in front of a hot crowd in the SEF. That puts them in fifth but, crucially, in a 4 way tie on 11-8 which covers both the last home slot in the postseason and dropping to the play-ins.
For FC Barcelona, the goal is pretty simple: try to make Alec Peters take a seat. The big man has been ruthlessly efficient this season as a scorer with 15.4 points per game while picking up 5.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists. Thomas Walkup remains creator in chief for Olympiacos but the Reds have a lot of depth when it comes to dishing so simply stopping him won’t suffice for the Blaugrana
As for Olympiacos, the question for them is how they stop Nicolas Laprovittola from cooking. He has been the man both as a scorer and creator for FC Barcelona this season while Jan Vesely and Willy Hernangomez provide a nice one-two punch in the up front game.
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Need to know
This is the first season with Euroleague basketball having a play-in format and it’s added a touch of spice to proceedings. Securing home court is no longer the core narrative of the regular season. The packed nature of the standings, with 4th to 11th separated by just one game, points to the race for the post-season also being about making the play-ins or being good enough to avoid them.
With that in mind, Olympiacos have added motivation here to try and create some breathing room right now. While only tiebreakers have them out of home court right now, they are far from a lock to even make the post-season.
What the bookies think
FC Barcelona are clear favourites in this Euroleague basketball battle, at 4/7, while the price on Olympiacos is a touch stingy at 5/4. The point spread of -3.5, from either side, is more interesting for my money. The total of 156.5 leans in heavily to the averages by both sides this season but ignores that last time out it was a really low-scoring affair with just 145 points scored in total.
What we think
The Euroleague GM survey this week came out with the bosses of the 18 clubs far more confident in FC Barcelona than expected, with 12 of the 18 general managers predicting Barcelona to make the Final Four in Berlin. They have certainly exceeded my expectations for them for this season. A Blaugrana win would go a long way towards proving those bosses are thinking along the right lines.
There’s definitely an element of can’t quite trust them with both sides, despite the solid runs each side is on. Having watched both FC Barcelona and Olympiacos a solid bit this season, there are flaws there to be exploited.
With two flawed teams, the logical course of action is which side looks more likely to still get a win when things are going wrong. Despite their impressive record in the standings, that’s not FC Barcelona for me. I’m taking the Reds to go on the road and get the win straight up.
Pick: Olympiacos 5/4