Two all too familiar rivals square off in Euroleague Basketball on Friday night. Olimpia Milano host FC Barcelona in a clash with significant playoff implications
Who: Olimpia Milano (9-15) vs FC Barcelona (15-7)
Where: The Forum, Milan
When: Friday 26 January at 20.30 CET, 19.30 UK/Ireland, 14.30 CET
Last time out
Olimpia Milano suffered their second straight defeat as they fell 84-72 to Valencia on the road. That has put them two games outside of the play-ins and puts their season in real jeopardy.
FC Barcelona lost in convincing fashion on the road. They went to Istanbul for what looked like an evenly balanced contest with Anadolu Efes. By the end, they had been well and truly battered 98-74.
The one bit of good news for Olimpia Milano last week came in the form of Shavon Shields returning from injury. While he didn’t have his typically electrifying night offensively just having him back is a big boost. He’ll be the man the Blaugrana focus on early on Friday night.
For FC Barcelona, the big combo of Juancho Hernangomez and Jan Vesely will be focal points in this game. It’s a big ask of a Barca team that has exceeded this site’s expectations but continues to be doubted by most observers.
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Need to know
This is it. This is really it for Olimpia Milano. There are 12 games left in the regular season and only a 2 game gap to the play-ins but it’s getting desperate. The Italian giants looked wretched in each of their last two outings. If they can’t get fired up for a meeting with FC Barcelona, there’s no reason to believe they can get it together for a chase down through the stretch. Motivation matters and this has to be the game for Olimpia Milano. It’s that simple.
What the bookies think
This one is basically a coin-flip with the sports books. Barcelona are 10/13 favourites in Euroleague Basketball betting while Olimpia Milano are available at evens. It’s a coin toss in the eyes of the bookies.
The spread is understandably tight at -1.5 for Barcelona. The total is a little on the low side at 156.5 points.
What we think
FC Barcelona were atrocious away to Efes. There’s no getting past that. Still, they have won two thirds of their games in what is supposed to be a rebuilding season. The key piece for that, Nicolas Laprovittola is injured and how they fare without him is a huge question.
There has also been a tendency in recent seasons for Olimpia Milano to raise their game in the dying stages of the Euroleague Basketball campaign. That gives me confidence in them.
I fancy Olimpia Milano to step up here and get the win. Far more than that, I fancy the over to hit.
Pick: Olimpia Milano (Evens) and the over.