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In the not too distant past, Sevilla were being talked up as genuine La Liga title contenders, and with good reason.
The Andalusians were playing some of the best football in the division, coach Pablo Machin continuing to enhance his credentials after his success story at Girona.
Then, the wheels fell off in dramatic style.
Since mid-December, Sevilla have only managed to win one league game, and as they head into Saturday’s fixture against leaders Barcelona, they find themselves a cavernous 17 points behind their opponents, and all aspirations of winning the division gone.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what’s gone wrong, but Andre Silva’s lack of goal scoring form is certainly one aspect.
Two league goals since the end of September compares to seven in his opening seven outings for the club.
On loan from AC Milan, there were talks earlier in the season that he would be signed permanently at the end of the campaign, but things have gone strangely quiet on that front.
Fortunately, Wissam Ben Yedder and Pablo Sarabia have been coming up with the goods, and they could be a major threat for the Catalans on Saturday.
Former Barcelona forward, Munir El Haddadi, might even be given the nod for this one, the youngster keen to prove that the Blaugrana were wrong to force him out.
Though they’ve failed to score in six of their last 10 games in all competitions, it’s been 10 years since they didn’t manage a goal in the league against Barcelona. With the Catalans scoring in all of those matches too, take the 2/5 bet of Both Teams to Score in 90 Mins.
Whilst this is a hugely important game for Barça, they do have two Clasico’s coming up within the week. With that in mind, Ernesto Valverde might be thinking about rotation for the Sevilla match.
The Andalusians are the team that Lionel Messi has scored the most goals against, but he still doesn’t look like he’s fully recovered from his injury sustained a few weeks ago, and could do with a rest.
It will mean that the burden of responsibility will fall elsewhere in the team. Ousmane Dembele needs to work on his final ball, but his electric pace in particular is going to cause problems for a laboured Sevilla defence.
The midfield battle will be one to watch too, with the likes of Arturo Vidal and former Sevilla captain, Ivan Rakitic, taking the game to Roque Mesa and Franco Vazquez.
Ibrahim Amadou in the defensive mid position for the hosts, needs to have the game of his life to stop a wave of Barcelona attacks coming centrally, but maybe Machin can tweak his 3-1-4-2 formation to give him some support there.
It would force the Catalans out wide and out of danger, just as happened against Lyon in the Champions League.
Goals are expected, but with neither side having enough to win the game, an Either Draw 1-1 or 2-2 bet is good value at 19/5.
The atmosphere at the Sanchez Pizjuan is one of the best in La Liga, and it can be intimidating for teams, particularly if opponents allow Sevilla to start the game on the front foot.
The way Barcelona play, however, means that they’re able to score from anywhere, at any time. And, as their opponents begin to tire, we can rely on the visitors to take full advantage.
Both Teams to Score in 90 Mins 2/5
Half Time/Full Time of Sevilla/Draw 15/1
Combination Correct score Draw 1-1 or 2-2 bet 19/5