EUROPEAN football fanatic Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) heads to Spain on Sunday for his latest best bet on the continent.
Celta Vigo v Sevilla | Sunday 9th February 2020, 17:30 | La Liga TV
“Playing like this, we’ll get results” proclaimed Celta Vigo boss Oscar Garcia after seeing his side suffer a 1-0 defeat at Valencia last weekend. The result leaves the Galicians rooted inside the La Liga relegation zone – one point from safety – after 22 rounds of action with a paltry three triumphs to their name in 2019/20.
Celta were competitive at Mestalla in a match shorn of major goalscoring opportunities but were made to pay for yet another second-half drop off. The Vigo-based outfit have shipped 22 (71%) of their 31 goals after half-time, with 11 arriving in the final 15 minutes, as Carlos Soler’s decisive strike did seven days ago.
The defeat hurts. Celta are now winless in eight (W0-D5-L3) league outings – their worst run of results since 2016 – and the Balaidos boys have seriously struggled to engineer any sort of invention in the final-third. Those offensive woes aren’t hard to find with Celta bagging two goals or more on only three occasions in 22 La Liga tussles this term.
Garcia was appointed in early November and has overseen minor improvements in performance levels, although the Galicians remain an unconvincing case, lacking identity and physicality. The January departure of influential Slovakian midfielder Stan Lobotka hasn’t helped matters and it’s hard to be enthused by the current crop.
Few teams across Europe generate as few open play chances as Celta so new signing Fyodor Smolov is likely to be feeding off scraps when handed his first start in Sunday’s showdown with Sevilla. Elsewhere, the defence is prone to unforced errors, there’s a rudderless midfield and a wayward forwardline that’s heavily contributed to another season of strife.
The betting angle
Games involving Celta have largely been uneventful affairs, particularly at Balaidos, and I suspect Sevilla will head here confident of picking up at least a point in a match featuring few goals. The Galicians’ base is the lowest-scoring ground in the Spanish top-flight, producing an average of only 1.64 goals per-game with 10 of the last 11 going Under 2.5.
Sevilla have W11-D6-L3 under Julen Lopetegui’s watch when excluding encounters with Barcelona and Real Madrid, restricting opponents to no more than a solitary strike in 16 of those 19 fixtures. The Andalusians are comfortably ranked inside the top-four for all major performance data metrics with their backline efforts particularly eye-catching.
Like Celta, shootouts have proven relatively scarce at Sevilla since Lopetegui arrived with 14/22 (72%) matches failing to break the Over 2.5 Goals line. Away days have averaged only 1.01 Expected Goals (xG) from open play when taking out trips to the Big Two, with only city rivals Betis conjuring up an xG open play tally over the 0.50 mark against Los Nervionenses.
Sevilla have earned more points on their travels this term than at their famed fortress Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan home and I suspect the visitors have enough tools in their armoury to add to their haul by avoiding defeat here on Sunday night.
Take Sevilla in the Double Chance market, plus Under 3.5 Goals, for a very attractive 3/4 (Betfair). It’s a selection that’s proven profitable in 16 of the Andalusians 19 games against La Liga opposition that isn’t Barcelona or Real Madrid, as well as 14 of Celta’s 20 games across the campaign when excluding the Big Two, and seven of their 11 Balaidos outings.
Celta Vigo v Sevilla – Sevilla Double Chance and Under 3.5 Goals (3/4 Betfair)