Sevilla v Barcelona – Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium at 15.00
Barcelona can temporarily move to the top of the La Liga table on Saturday afternoon with a win away to Sevilla. But the Catalans make the journey to the hostile Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan with 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.
Andres Iniesta was the latest to join Rafinha, Thomas Vermaelen, Adriano and quadruple Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi on the treatment table. And as a result of the Blaugrana’s unforgiving schedule and horrendous luck with injuries, Luis Enrique has been forced to call up as many as six Barca B players to plug the gaps.
In midweek, Barca were put under all sorts of pressure by an enterprising Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League. They were second best for large swathes of that encounter and make the journey to Andalucia on the back of a defeat and draw in their last two road trips at Celta Vigo and Roma.
Normally I’d be all over opposing Barcelona at short prices when visiting Sevilla 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.
And Emery’s men barely laid a glove on a fragile Juventus side on Tuesday night 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 of that ripsnorter is unlikely but I was surprised to see Over 2.75 Goals available to back at 1.86. Obviously the absence of Messi and Iniesta may have influenced the odds but there’s a gentle reminder that the Catalans 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 on Saturday afternoon.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 2.75 at 1.86
Prices correct at the time of writing.
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