Barcelona host Sevilla at the Camp Nou on Sunday evening in La Liga. These sides are closest challengers to runaway leaders Real Madrid and know that anything except a win could prove a death knell for their slim title hopes. The visitors have drawn seven of their last nine in the league whilst Barca are in the simply outstanding form under Xavi, blowing teams away of late.
Xavi has Barcelona in outstanding form and back to their true selves. The team is 12 matches without defeat, winning nine of those and drawing three. The style of play and the free-scoring nature of the team is what has been most impressive as they’ve scored four goals in six of those 12 fixtures.
They beat Atletico Madrid 4-2 and then won 4-1 at Valencia, 4-2 in Napoli, and 4-0 at home to Athletic Bilbao. After a surprise 0-0 home draw with Galatasaray in the Europa League, they went to Turkey and won 2-1. Their last two La Liga results have seen a 4-0 thrashing of Osasuna and then a remarkable 4-0 win at Real Madrid in El Clasico. They controlled and dominated that match throughout.
Barcelona Team News
Xavi has injuries to squad players to deal with in the shape of Samuel Umtiti and Sergino Dest in defence. Nico Gonzalez is also a slight doubt in central midfield. Dani Alves played for Brazil in midweek and is not expected to start this one so Ronald Araujo could cover at right-back again.
The rest of the side picks itself. Ousmane Dembele should start in preference to Adama Traore down the right flank despite his contract impasse. Gavi and Memphis Depay will probably have to make do with being impact substitutes with Ferran Torres and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang competing in the front three.
Barca sits 12 points behind Real Madrid with a game in hand. The title is almost certainly already gone but motivation is high under Xavi to enjoy themselves and continue returning Barcelona to their former glories.
The side will attack and won’t relent if leading, as shown by their wrath of recent four-goal hauls. With many attackers on the bench who are keen to impress, Blaugrana tends to score plenty of late goals in matches.
Sevilla have had a fine season overall, sitting second in La Liga. However, their title hopes have evaporated in recent weeks due to dropping numerous points by drawing matches. They have not lost in the league since late November – a 15 match undefeated streak – but that has seen eight draws and also two Europa League defeats including being knocked out by West Ham.
After a second leg 1-0 loss to Dinamo Zagreb (but still progressing 3-2 on aggregate), they beat Real Betis 2-1 and drew 0-0 at Alaves. A 1-0 home win against West Ham followed in the Europa round of 16 first leg. They were beaten 2-0 in the second leg after extra time to be knocked out of their specialty tournament. Their last two in La Liga have seen a 1-1 draw at Rayo Vallecano and a 0-0 home draw with Real Sociedad.
Sevilla Team News
Sevilla have some players who could miss this big match. Diego Carlos at center back and Fernando at defensive midfielder have missed recent matches. Papu Gomez has also been absent on the left-wing of late.
Marcos Acuna and Karim Rekik in defence missed the draw against Real Sociedad and remain in serious doubts, as does playmaker Suso. Thomas Delaney will miss the clash due to a twisted ankle. Ivan Rakitic should return to start and Erik Lamela is back to boost options on the flanks.
Sevillistas Rojiblancos will play to win this match. A surprise victory and Real Madrid dropping points could open the title race up again, but that seems like a long shot.
Sevilla will be quite open and attacking with four front players in a 4-2-3-1 shape. They have a seven-point gap to the fifth spot so would probably take a draw to try to get some breathing room for Real Betis.
Barcelona are unbeaten in 12 matches (W9, D11)
Barca have scored 31 goals in their last 11 matches
Barcelona have scored 18 goals in their last 5 home matches against Sevilla (all comps)
Barca’s Aubameyang has 9 goals in his last 8 matches
Sevilla are unbeaten in 15 La Liga matches (5 draws in a row on the road)
Sevilla have scored 1 or fewer goals in their last 7 away La Liga matches
Sevilla are winless in 8 away matches (all comps), failing to score in 3 of the last 4
This match has a Barcelona win written all over it considering their sensational form, their home record against Sevilla, and the visitors’ poor results on their travels. This could be a game to back Barcelona on the spread.
Best Bet: Barcelona (-1 goal) at 2.35
Alternative Bet: Barcelona to win to zero at 2.40
Multiplier Leg: Barcelona/draw double chance and over 2.5 goals at 2.10
Goalscorer Tip: Aubameyang to score 2 or more goals at 5.00
Correct Score Tip: Barcelona 3-0 Sevilla at 10.00
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