THE first leg ties of the Copa del Rey Round of 16 ties conclude on Thursday night. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his best bets.
Granada v Sevilla | Thursday 19.00 | Sky Sports 5
Seeing Sevilla at odds-against is bang up my street on Thursday night. William Hill make Unai Emery’s team a 21/20 chance and having won five of their last six, should be fancied to take a first leg lead from their short trip to Granada.
But this bet is based more on their hosts. Granada’s last 15 games read W1-D6-L8 with their only victory coming against Cordoba in this competition. And they’ve scored just nine goals in their last 17 matches!
What’s more they’re in the midst of a La Liga survival battle and are unlikely to be focused on a cup clash sandwiched between two crucial league fixtures. The strugglers were on duty on Monday night (losing 2-0 at Cordoba) and have a game against Sociedad to contend with on Sunday.
Sevilla were far from their best in their weekend win against Celta Vigo but they have kept four consecutive clean sheets now and their class should tell on Thursday night.
Barcelona v Elche | Thursday 21.00 | Sky Sports 5
By the time this fixture rolls around late on Thursday night, Barcelona could easily be without a coach. Luis Enrique’s decision to ‘rest’ a galaxy of stars for their Sunday loss at David Moyes’ Sociedad has attracted huge criticism and now the former midfield dynamo is fighting for his job.
Rumours of a breakdown in relationship between Enrique and Lionel Messi continue to spiral and with sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta axed last week plus his assistant Carles Puyol handing in his resignation, the Catalans are in crisis off-the-pitch.
On the field, Barca remain in the title race despite the shenanigans engulfing the Camp Nou. The shock loss on Sunday was damaging but not life-threatening and they should get their season back on track with a comfortable home win against La Liga’s bottom club Elche.
Barcelona have netted 26 goals in their last five matches as hosts, scoring at least five goals in each of their previous four domestic games at the Camp Nou. However, Enrique’s charges have kept just one clean sheet in those four fixtures and a high-scoring game could again be on the cards.
William Hill offer the chance to back Over 4.5 Goals at 2/1 and at those quotes, a small punt is well worth a go.
Granada v Sevilla – Sevilla to win (21/20 William Hill)
Barcelona v Elche – Over 4.5 Goals (2/1 William Hill)