Best Odds: 17/20
Sevilla play host to Barcelona at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Wednesday night in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinal. The forthcoming clash is a replay of last year’s final when Barcelona ran out comfortable winners (5-0) to grab their 30th trophy in the competition.
Having enjoyed a thoroughly positive start to the 2018/19 season, Sevilla seem to have hit a standstill recently. Three successive defeats came as a warning side for the team that successfully booked their place into the knockout stages of the Europa League and were pushing pretty strong in La Liga this term.
Los Rojiblancos first suffered successive defeats against Athletic Bilbao – in La Liga and Copa del Rey – before getting slapped by Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu last time out. Back-to-back league defeats pushed Sevilla down to the third place in the standings, trailing huge 13 points behind their Wednesday rivals. The drop in form did not come out of the blue for Sevilla who should have taken successive draws against Leganes and Atletico Madrid as warning signs. With only one win in their last six matches across all competitions, it’s fair to say Sevilla head into the Barcelona game with low spirits. Pablo Manchin’s side scraped their way into the Copa del Rey quarterfinals and will be huge underdogs against the title holders. Having overcome Vilanovence in the round of 32, Sevilla lost the second leg on home ground 1-0 to Athletic Bilbao but still pushed through 3-2 on aggregate.
Munir El Haddadi is likely to be given a starting berth against his former club this week, after coming off the bench against Real Madrid this weekend.
Quincy Promes and Aleix Vidal will be hoping to make the cut into the first team, while Nolito remains unavailable.
The Catalans head into the first leg of the Sevilla quarterfinal on the back of a 3-1 win over Leganes on Sunday. It was their seventh straight triumph in the league which allowed them to grab a firmer grip on the La Liga title charge.
Barcelona are five points clear of Atletico Madrid. In addition to La Liga, the Catalans are slowly preparing for their next month’s Champions League Last 16 clash against Lyon. Even though La Liga and Champions League remain the top priority for Ernesto Valverde he will undoubtedly instruct his men to go full strength into the Copa del Rey as well. Barcelona want to defend their title and lift the trophy for the fifth time on the trot. Barcelona have been utterly dominant in the competition lately, taking part in all but one of the last eight finals. They had no problems running over Cultural Leonesa in the previous round of competition (5-1) and will be raring to go against Sevilla this time around. Ernesto Valverde is widely expected to shuffle his deck a bit in order to keep his team as fresh as possible amidst the busy schedule.
Ousmane Dembele picked up an ankle sprain in an impressive outing against Leganes and won’t be in contention for the game.
Rafinha and Samuel Umtiti have been sidelined through injury whereas Ivan Rakitic and Leo Messi are both expected back into the starting line-up.
Key Factors to Consider
- Barcelona have 30 Copa Del Rey trophies in their cabinet
- The Catalans won the competition four times in a row
- La Liga leaders played in 7 of last 8 Copa del Rey finals
- Sevilla reached the Copa del Rey final last year, losing 5-0 to Barca
- Los Rojiblancos have won only one of their last 6 matches in all competitions
After a strong start to the season, Sevilla are going through a rough patch at the moment. With only one win in their last six matches, the hosts will need extra motivation against rampant Barcelona. The Catalans won 10 of their last 12 matches and will be extremely motivated to keep the momentum.
Best Odds: 17/20
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