On Sunday night, Barcelona host Sevilla at the Nou Camp, in what appears to be a pivotal game in the race for the Spanish top-flight title.
Barcelona (Odds of 1/ 2 for victory)
The home side’s form has picked up in recent games, as three straight wins against Villarreal, Getafe and Inter in La Liga and the Champions League illustrates. In fact, the reigning champions have now won three out of their last four in the Spanish top-flight.
Their recent decent run of form has put the home side within three points of arch-rivals and league leaders Real Madrid in the table.
As is the custom with the Blaugrana over the last decade, they have been prolific of late in front of goal, scoring at least two goals in five of their last six outings in La Liga.
The return to fitness of star forward Lionel Messi against Inter will only add to their potency to their attack. The game against the Italian champions only Messi’s second start of the campaign for the Catalan giants.
Teams generally leave the Nou Camp with no points in La Liga, as Barcelona are unbeaten in 15 home games. They have won 14 of those undefeated games, with Valencia the only team to avoid defeat back in February by picking up a 2-2 draw.
Unsurprisingly, Ernesto Valverde’s team has been prolific in La Liga at the Nou Camp, scoring at least twice in 16 of their last 18 home games. It is difficult to see Sevilla stopping that repeating in this clash.
Sevilla (Odds of 6/1 for victory)
The Andalusian visitors are level on points with the Catalan giants. However, like Barcelona, their La Liga campaign has not been plain sailing.
A 3-2 win over Real Sociedad last time out in La Liga ended a run of two straight league defeats. Julen Lopetegui’s since followed that win against La Real by recording a 1-0 win over APOEL in the Europa League on Thursday night. The visitors recent La Liga matches have been low-scoring, with seven of their last nine matches producing under 2.5 goals.
Sevilla’s recent away games have also been low-scoring of late, as five of their last six games have produced under 2.5 goals. The Andalusian’s have a decent recent record on their travels in La Liga, winning three of their last away games in the Spanish top-flight.
A 3-2 defeat at Eibar in their last away game ended a three-game winning run on the road for the visitors.
Barcelona look to be getting back in form. The return of Messi is a massive boost to the home side. The signs of recovery are also there for the visitors.
However, we are backing the home win in this clash at 1/ 2, as Barcelona on home soil are just formidable. We are also backing Luis Suarez to be the first goalscorer at odds of 7/2, although this is a much riskier punt than the home win.
This game should be highly entertaining and a home win could prove pivotal to Barcelona’s chances of retaining their crown as La Liga champions, even at this early stage of the campaign.
Verdict: Back the home win at odds of 1/ 2 (Boring we know) and/or Luis Suarez to score first at odds of 7/2 (this one is more of a maverick punt). (All odds are from Bet365).
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Will Barcelona continue their recent good run against their Andalusian visitors?