Javier Mascherano
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Take Barcelona odds of evens to keep another 2014 clean sheet

| 18.01.2014

Lionel Messi may have lost out to Cristiano Ronaldo in his quest for a fifth successive Ballon d’Or, but the way he has started 2014 indicates that he is determined to get the award back in 12 months time.

Luis Suarez is averaging a goal every 65 minutes for Liverpool this season, which is the best rate in the Premier League, but Messi’s start to 2014 has been even more scintillating.

He has already scored four goals in just 169 minutes of action for Barcelona in 2014, which equates to a goal every 42 minutes.

However, it is not the 5/4 that Messi scores two or more against Levante in the next round of La Liga fixtures that has taken our fancy, or the 5/1 he helps himself to a hat-trick. Instead, it is Barcelona’s equally impressive form at the other end of the pitch.

Barca are yet to concede in 2014, keeping four successive clean sheets, and it is a win to nil for them that has been selected as one of three 1/1 bets that appeal from across the European spectrum of football this weekend.

Levante sit 11th in La Liga, but in their five home games against opposition above them in the standings, they have failed to score in four. Meanwhile, only Elche have scored fewer goals on their own patch.

Barca have beaten Levante to nil in their last three meetings too, including a 7-0 demolition at the Nou Camp on the opening day of this season, when Messi netted twice.

Over in France, and Marseille need to improve on a run of one win in five in the league, as they have now fallen eight points adrift of the top three to gain entry into next season’s Champions League.

But rather than tipping Marseille to win at home to Valenciennes, in the bottom three, it is the 1/1 that both teams score that is of interest.

Marseille have only failed to score in one home game this season and have seen both teams find the target in each of their last four in all competitions.

Valenciennes are yet to keep a clean sheet on the road and have scored in all four away games so far against opposition in the top half. Furthermore, bets on both teams scoring on each of their last five fixtures would have been successful.

Our final 1/1 tip arrives from Portugal and a victory for the hosts Academica in their mid-table clash with Gil Vicente.

The pair are level on points at present, with Academica unbeaten in three at home, which includes a victory over Porto.

Gil Vicente have taken just one point from their last six league games and haven’t managed a single goal in any of their last four. They also haven’t scored in three straight away games.