La Liga leaders Barcelona will be looking to keep their 100% record intact when they play host to Sevilla, a team that have always given the Catalans a tough time at Camp Nou. Los Rojiblancos will have an extra motive to do well in this fixture, having picked up mere two points from first three league matches.
Puyol finally returns
With Barcelona not really impressing last season, everybody was eager to see how the Catalans would fare under Tata Martino and with Neymar added to their ranks this summer. The new boss hasn’t had a lot of time to work with his players having been appointed during late pre-season, but the first signs have been more than positive. The Camp Nou outfit secured the first trophy of the season by pipping Atletico Madrid to the Spanish Super Cup title, albeit only winning thanks to the away goal rule. Meanwhile, Barcelona kicked off the league campaign with a 7-0 triumph over Levante, before recording narrow wins over Malaga and Valencia away. With both Messi and Naymar impressing while on international duty, the hosts have every reason to feel optimistic ahead of the clash with out-of-sorts Sevilla, although their shaky back line will have to be wary of Gameiro, Bacca and Marin. Everybody at the club was delighted to see captain Carles Puyol resume training this week, but the problem is he is still a couple of weeks away from returning into action.
Dani Alves and Sergio Busquets have resumed full training, but Carles Puyol continues to work outside the group.
Slow start for Sevilla
Due to the difficult financial situation, Sevilla chiefs had no choice but to cash in on a number of star players this summer, with Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas, Gary Medel and Geoffroy Kondogbia among those to leave. Meanwhile, los Rojiblancos made a number of bargain signings in an attempt to compensate for the departures, but while Kevin Gameiro and Marko Marin have already shown a great deal of potential, the likes of Bacca, Iborra, M’Bia, Cheryshev and Pareja have yet to prove their worth. Sevilla could do little to avoid the opening defeat to Atletico Madrid, while they couldn’t be too satisfied with sharing spoils against Levante and Malaga. Los Rojiblancos were pretty impressive in Europa League qualifiers, scoring a total of 18 goals in 4 matches to reach the group stage, and two goals against Malaga last time out are enough to suggest their attack is in fine working order. And while Sevilla cannot be trusted to stop mighty Barcelona in their tracks, I believe they have more than enough attacking potential to score at least once at Camp Nou, especially having bagged three goals in last two matches against the Catalans.
Diego Perotti is out with a calf problem, but Marko Marin and Beto have resumed full training and are expected to start.
Another resounding victory looks on the cards for Barcelona, although I seriously doubt the Catalans can keen a clean sheet here, especially after conceding two against Valencia. Sevilla are still far from the desired form, but they are very dangerous up front and can certainly score at least once in Barcelona.
Top pick: Home win + over 3.5 goals 1.95 (19/20) @ Ladbrokes
Alternative pick 1: Both teams to score 1.80 (4/5) @ Betfair
Alternative pick 2: Home win + both teams to score 2.30 (13/10) @ BetVictor
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