MARK O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) takes his European NAP back to La Liga this weekend for Saturday's exciting clash between Sevilla and Barcelona.
Sevilla v Barcelona | Saturday 15.00
It wouldn’t be a normal week in Spain without some sort of crisis. But in the past few days, Barcelona have been hit by a spate of injuries to key players and believe it or not, are struggling to fill their bench for this weekend’s trip to the loud, proud and always hostile Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Luis Enrique has just 14 outfield first-team players to choose from and the vast majority of them scheduled to play their third game in the space of seven days on Saturday. The Catalans lost Andres Iniesta in their unconvincing midweek win over Bayer Leverkusen and already without Rafinha, Thomas Vermaelen, Adriano and quadruple Ballon d'Or winner Lionel. To combat the current medical woes, the Bluagrana chief has been forced to call up as many as six Barca B players to plug the gaps.
It’s hardly an ideal situation ahead of the visit to Seville and Barca have been far from their best this season. Leverkusen could (and probably should) have left the Nou Camp with maximum points on Tuesday night whilst the Catalans last two away days have seen them stuffed 4-1 by Celta Vigo and held to a 1-1 draw in Roma.
I’d usually be diving head first into opposing Barcelona at odds-on quotes when playing away in Seville but Unai Emery’s hosts are enduring their own injury problems and have been a shadow of the side that finished fifth last term. Timothee Kolodziejczak and Marco Andreolli will again be asked to deputise at centre-half as Los Rojiblancos hunt only their second league success in seven outings.
Emery’s men barely laid a glove on a fragile Juventus side in midweek and so whilst there’s a smidgen of value in keeping Sevilla onside to avoid defeat, this fixture is simply synonymous with goals and backing another high-scoring encounter looks the best solution.
The last seven Sevilla-Barcelona duels have produced a huge 37 goals in total with each clash breaking the Over 2.5 Goals barrier as well as ticking off winning Both Teams To Score selections. Cast your mind back to August and the duo played out a thrilling 5-4 UEFA Super Cup final that ended in Barca’s favour in extra-time.
Of course, a repeat is highly unlikely but I’m keen to play the goals angle with Both Teams To Score backable at 4/6 with Bet365. Barca can still call upon Neymar and Luis Suarez in forward areas and they’re up against a patched up Sevilla backline.
The Andalusians won’t want to take a backwards step either. They may have leaked at least twice in each of their previous eight meetings with Barca and failed to shut the defending champions out in 15 previous encounters at the Sanchez-Pizjuan but Luis Enrique’s troops have been just as woeful at the back.
Already this season, Barcelona have conceded four goals on three separate occasions and boast only two shutouts in 11 matches. Throw in the fact that Sevilla have welcomed the big-two of Spain on four occasions under Emery’s watch and all four have featured three to five goals with BTTS banking on each occasion and I reckon a goals route is the most obvious option.
Sevilla v Barcelona – Both Teams To Score (4/6 Bet365)
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