Barcelona face Sevilla in their third match of the season this Sunday.
The clash will see two of the favourites for La Liga go head-to-head, as last season’s runners-up host the Europa League winners at the Camp Nou. It is a matchup that promises entertainment and plenty of thrills, with the last three matches played in Catalonia resulting in a whopping 17 goals!
Having started their seasons late due to European commitments, both sides will be eager to follow up opening-day wins and climb the table further. But, what will happen when they take to the field at the Camp Nou? We’ve weighed up the possibilities and come up with four predictions for this weekend’s blockbuster clash.
La Liga title odds with William Hill:
- Real Madrid 11/10
- Barcelona 5/4
- Atletico Madrid 5/1
- Sevilla 25/1
- Villarreal 50/1
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1. Sevilla to take the lead
Sevilla are a phenomenal side under Julen Lopetegui. Since the Spaniard took charge they’ve developed wonderfully, getting themselves back into the groove, qualifying for the Champions League and becoming Europa League winners again by beating the two favourites back-to-back in the semi-final and final.
They’re so well structured and coached that former less-favourably remembered Manchester City players like Jesus Navas and Fernando have found new leases of life as genuinely special members of the first XI. Lopetegui has integrated the great work of sporting director Monchi, helping Jules Kounde and Diego Carlos form one of the most solid defensive partnerships in Europe.
But in attack? They’re lethal. In the 33 games they’ve played in 2020, they have only failed to score on three occasions. Despite their striking options being somewhat questionable (with only Lucas Ocampos netting double digits in La Liga last season) they always find a way to stick it in the back of the net. So, you can be confident they will score at the Camp Nou, and probably first as well. Villarreal started fast in Barcelona’s first game of the season but didn’t have the killer instinct to finish their attacks off. Sevilla will have no such issues.
Barcelona vs Sevilla match odds with William Hill:
- Sevilla to score first 8/5
- Barcelona to come from behind and win 6/1
- Barcelona win and both teams to score 7/4
- Over 2.5 goals 4/7
2. Lopsided Barcelona
Barcelona’s response to falling behind should be exciting. The Blaugrana are usually at their best when something forces them to play quickly. Too often in recent years they settle into a comfortable rhythm and just keep possession for possession’s sake, but going a goal down should spark them into life.
One thing is also for sure: Barcelona’s play against Sevilla will be focused overwhelmingly on the left side of the pitch. Despite Leo Messi playing from the right, the club’s lack of a dominant right-back has led to Messi drifting more and more centrally to orchestrate play. This has been exacerbated by Ronald Koeman’s 4-2-3-1, which places Messi centrally and encourages the left-winger, usually Ansu Fati, to make diagonal goalscoring runs. This, in turn, leaves the left flank free for Jordi Alba.
Alba has become a massive playmaking force for the Blaugrana in recent years, especially at the Camp Nou. The quality of his crosses and cutbacks has jumped up, and while he can be a defensive weak spot at times, he is immensely creative in the final third and Barcelona use him as their major source of width. Under Koeman they have so far focused heavily on the left-flank; the signing of Sergino Dest (should Barca land their man) may change all this, but he won’t be available to play against Sevilla. So, for now, when Barcelona are playing right, they’re moving left.
3. Messi to score
Messi has scored a gargantuan amount of goals for Barcelona, but no one has tasted his wrath more than Sevilla. Messi’s most doused opponents are the biggest in Spain: Real Madrid, Valencia, Atletico Madrid. But, above them all is Sevilla. Messi has scored a staggering 37 times against Sevilla and what’s even more impressive is, he’s done that in just 39 games!
What Messi has done to the Andalusians has been utterly ludicrous. There have only been three La Liga matches at the Camp Nou between these sides where Messi has played and not scored. Three league matches out of 14 at the Camp Nou, spanning 15 years. It is an astounding achievement and even with his frustrations with the club and Barcelona still settling into new management, the idea that Messi won’t slaughter Sevilla is too silly to consider. He’s probably going to score.
La Liga Top Scorer 2020/21 odds with William Hill:
- Lionel Messi 4/7
- Karim Benzema 5/1
- Luis Suarez 7/1
- Ansu Fati 16/1
- Antoine Griezmann 16/1
- Eden Hazard 16/1
- Gerard Moreno 20/1
- Iago Aspas 33/1
4. Barcelona to win
Not only will Messi score, but he will probably win too. When Barcelona play Sevilla, the home side has a big advantage. Away wins are rare and when they do come, it’s for Barcelona. Sevilla haven’t won at the Camp Nou since a Copa del Rey clash a decade ago, and they haven’t won a La Liga matches in Catalonia since 2002! It’s been an aeon, before anyone in the current squads was playing.
Then there’s Lopetegui, who despite working wonders with Sevilla has only managed two games at the Camp Nou and lost them both with an aggregate scoreline of 9-1. A 5-1 defeat in El Clasico (during his Real Madrid tenure) was followed up by a 4-0 hammering last season. He picked up a goalless draw at home but that was against a tired old side, and Koeman’s Barcelona are not that.
So, despite taking the lead, Barcelona should channel the power of Messi and their lethal left-flank to battle their way back into the game and leave another loss on luckless Lopetegui. Expect Messi to shine, and perhaps even misfit Antoine Griezmann. The Frenchman rarely looks comfortable for the Blaugrana but he has eight goals in 20 games against Sevilla and will be desperate for a statement performance.