CHAMPIONS League winners Barcelona meet Europa League champions Sevilla in the 40th edition of the UEFA Super Cup on Tuesday night. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) picks out the best bets.
Barcelona v Sevilla | Tuesday 19.45 | BT Sport Europe
Tbilisi’s Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena is the unlikely host of Tuesday night’s UEFA Super Cup contest between Barcelona and Sevilla but punters tuning in should be treated to an enjoyable showdown.
To those on British and Irish shores, the fixture might be perceived to be more of a glamorous friendly than the chance to collect a significant piece of silverware but the Spanish and Catalans mean business. For 2014/15 treble winners Barcelona, coach Luis Enrique has his sights firmly set on continuing the Blaugrana’s quest for a remarkable sextuple this year.
However, pre-season hasn’t quite gone to plan for last year’s Champions League winners. Barca have suffered defeats in three of their five friendlies and will be without Neymar who’s suffering from Mumps. Adriano, Douglas and Jordi Alba are also sidelined whilst summer signings Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal aren’t available until January. V
idal was pinched from Sevilla with marauding midfielder Stephane M’Bia and 28-goal striker Carlos Bacca just three of 10 players to have left the Ramon Sanchez Pizjua during the summer. But boss Unai Emery, who has never beaten Barcelona in 19 attempts with four clubs as a head coach, has plenty of new faces to work with.
Tricky winer Yevhen Konoplyanka, no-nonsense centre-half Adil Rami and misfiring forward Ciro Immobile are hoping to provide fresh impetus for Emery although Rami is just one of a whole host of absentees ahead of Tuesday. New signing Steven N’Zonzi and Timothee Kolodziejczak are ill whilst Daniel Carrico and Nico Pareja are still recovering from knocks leaving the defence bare. Not ideal for a challenge like Barcelona.
Sevilla haven’t been at their best either in pre-season but have played seven fixtures so rustiness shouldn’t be an issue. Emery is expected to change system to a two-man attack during 2015/16 but that approach might be on ice for the time being.
You have to go back to 2009 to find the last Super Cup final that was decided by just a single goal and bookies expect Barca to cruise it in Tblisi. But interestingly, the past 15 Super Cups this millennium have been split evenly between the Champions League and Europa League winners with one draw apiece. There’s also decent stats in favour of a goals-based bet.
Ten of those aforementioned 15 games featured Over 2.5 Goals with nine banking in the Both Teams To Score column. It’s been a similar story in recent head-to-heads with neither team keeping a clean sheet in the previous six duels and a total of 32 goals plundered during that time. In fact, Over 3.5 Goals has proven profitable in 11 of the last 14 clashes between the two and a repeat is just 6/5 (Betfair).
William Hill have chalked up Both Teams To Score and Over 2.5 Goals at 5/6 and I’ll take a bit of that as well as the 10/1 from Ladbrokes that Barcelona win 3-1 – it fits the previous goal trends and I’m a little fearful for Sevilla’s patched up defence, even without Neymar on show.
Barcelona v Sevilla – Both Teams To Score and Over 2.5 Goals (5/6 William Hill)
Barcelona v Sevilla – Barcelona to win 3-1 (Ladbrokes)