Football over the festive period is only a tradition in the British Isles. Across Europe, the rest of football has taken a breather from the action, with most of them resuming in January. This has been a much-debated and asked-for reform in English football, with various arguments being put forward to make the case for a winter break. In any case, while footballers in England and elsewhere on the island will barely have time to breathe before the New Year is upon us, their counterparts across the channel will be, metaphorically and literally, putting their feet up and taking some time away from the game. For fans of teams in these leagues, the lack of football can feel like a drag, especially when compared to the action in the Premier League. There is a solution for this – online and mobile betting, using the iOS app for bet365 – explained by Appmodo. This will allow fans to feel close to the action, while also giving them a reason to follow teams and matches they may not have usually done, and then, of course, there is the carrot of earning some extra spending money over the festive period.

One such team which will be taking a break over the next week or so is Barcelona. The Catalan side entered the winter break in thumping fashion, beating Alavés 4-1 at the Nou Camp. This result took them to the top of the league, three points ahead of Real Madrid who were still to play their game against Athletic Bilbao at the time of writing. Barcelona have had a curious season, one where they have been competitive in the league and in Europe, but their displays have been unsatisfactory and often quite poor. Despite making some big-money signings in the summer, with Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong joining the club, Barcelona have struggled to be as dominant as they have been in recent years, and in fact, have probably never been as reliant on the genius of Lionel Messi as they are now. The Argentinian has repeatedly bailed them out of trouble on numerous occasions, turning defeats into draws and draws into wins with his otherworldly ability to not only score goals himself but create chances for his teammates as well. He picked up his sixth Ballon d’Or a few weeks ago, and for the first time acknowledged that his time in football is nearing its end. This should be of grave concern to the Barcelona hierarchy, as Messi will probably be the sole reason for them winning any silverware this season, and they can ill-afford to be so dependent on him, even if he is probably the best player to have ever played the game. That will only make life without him even more difficult.

In terms of betting odds, the lack of football over the festive period does not mean that there is no value to be found for Barcelona fans from the markets. Barcelona restart their La Liga campaign with a Catalan derby against Espanyol, where their status as favourites is reflected in the price of 1.36. They then host Diego Simeone’s Atletico side, and here one can get decent value for 1.75. The markets have recognized that this is not a vintage Barcelona season by offering 6.00 for them to win the Champions League, but they are priced at 2.00 to reach the semi-finals – it may be surprising for readers to note that they have reached the last four of Europe’s premier competition just once since winning the trophy in 2015. These are some of the value picks for punters looking to place their money on the Catalan side.