MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) shares his betting thoughts on Thursday night’s Copa del Rey semi-final first leg from Seville.
Sevilla v Celta Vigo | Thursday 19.30
It took Sevilla quite some time to find their stride in 2015/16 but towards the end of November, Los Nervionenses clicked into gear and they’ve been hard to stop since.
The Andalusians opened the campaign with five wins in 18 (W5-D4-L9) across all competitions – their following 17 fixtures have returned W13-D3-L1 as well as 13 clean sheets. What a turnaround, eh?
On Sunday morning, Kevin Gameiro opened the scoring after 52 seconds to help Sevilla to a 3-1 win over Levante and although they’re still eight points adrift of fourth-placed Villarreal, Sevilla have their sights set on a top-four finish.
Grzegorz Krychowiak is a potentially big miss for the hosts but even so, it’s hard to ignore their claims to take a first leg lead. They’ve won 11 successive matches at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan since being beaten by Manchester City, conceding in only three of those encounters.
Real Madrid, Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao, Juventus and Valencia have all left Seville pointless in the past two months and going back to February 2012, Los Nervionenses have triumphed in a staggeringly strong 48/60 (80%) matches on home soil across the past two years.
Visitors Celta Vigo caused a major upset when turning Atletico Madrid over with a 3-2 victory at the Vicente Calderon last midweek but that’s their only taste of success in their past four outings. That encounter was sandwiched between back-to-back league losses at Rayo Vallecano (3-0) and Las Palmas (2-1).
Eduardo Berizzo fielded a much-changed team at Rayo in preparation for their Copa del Rey clash but it’s now three defeats in five on the road and no side has conceded more than their 35 goals amongst the top-seven in La Liga. In fact, the Galicians have kept their sheets clean just twice in 14 road trips, at Cadiz and Granada.
Nolito remains sidelined, which should mean Theo Bongonda continues on the left-side of midfield with Iago Aspas preferred to John Guidetti up top. There’s undoubted quality in the Sky Blues ranks and despite that stunning result in the capital seven days ago, it’s hard to support a repeat on Thursday night.
I’ll get stuck into Sevilla at 8/11 (SkyBet) with that 80% win rate at the forefront of my thinking.
Sevilla v Celta Vigo – Sevilla to win (8/11 SkyBet)
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