La Liga Betting: Sevilla v Barcelona



Sharing the label of the meanest defence in La Liga with Màlaga, the Sevillistas will face the sternest of tests on Saturday evening. They relied on huge fortune to beat Deportivo last Monday, with Ivan Rakitić's bum playing a big part: he chased down a goalkeeper clearance to score his team's second of the match.

It took until the 87th minute for Barcelona to find a way through against a resilient Granada. The Andalusian side were just moments away from holding on to an unlikely stalemate at the Camp Nou, but Xavi's half-volley crashed onto the underside of the crossbar and into the goal to break the deadlock. Tito Vilanova admitted he doesn't expect his team to be at full fitness; the Catalans meticulous planning aims to peak around the end of October. Still, they maintain a 100% record.

Team news

Diego López is available again for Sevilla following suspension, but it would seem incredibly harsh for Andrés Palop to lose his place: he has not conceded a single goal in his three matches between the sticks. It might be an unchanged line-up from the hosts, with former La Masia graduate Alberto Botía remaining in the heart of defence. The connection between Cicinho and Jesus Navas has been instrumental in their resurgence: the right-hand side has contributed 41% of the team's touches.

Alex Song is likely to continue at centre-back alongside Javier Mascherano for Barça, while Xavi should return to the starting eleven having rescued the points against Granada.

Form

A settled team has allowed Sevilla to make a tremendous start to the new campaign, eight of the first eleven have opened every match. Three wins and two draws is a decent beginning for what has become a more solid and hard-working outfit.

Five wins in five sees Barcelona sit top of the pile, they have not been without their scares though. They have looked less than convincing in their last two matches, if you include last week's Champions League exploits.

Recent head-to-head

Barça have won just three of the last seven in this fixture. They have often been comfortable at home, but have found Sevilla an entirely different prospect on their travels. However, they did record a 0-2 victory back in March with Xavi and Messi sealing the result inside half an hour.

Goalscorer betting

Is Messi becoming bigger than the team? His on-field spat with David Villa hints at the power and control he commands within the dressing room. Vilanova didn't even think it was an argument ("Lionel asked for the ball and David said he tried to get it to him"), while Messi told the media "not make it into something it isn't". The Argentinean is at 1.53 to score, whilst Villa can be found at 2.30.

Verdict

Having already seen off the challenge of Real Madrid at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, its been a fantastic start to the season for Míchel's side. They are well placed to compete in what should be an enthralling contest. Barça's results have somewhat shielded their performances so far and unless they improve dropped points are just around the corner. Consider backing the draw at 4.35.

Bonus bet

Of the six goals that Sevilla have scored this season, four have come in the first half, including their early strike against Real Madrid. A first half correct score of 1-0 is a decent 8.00.

Score prediction

Sevilla 2-2 Barcelona (15.00)