It’s the second legs of the Copa del Rey semi finals this week, and one would expect two tight matches as the four remaining teams battle it out for a place in the final. However, it could hardly be less competitive with two heavy first leg victories putting Barcelona and Sevilla firmly in the driving seat.
Sevilla thumped Celta Vigo 4-0 last week with a brace and a missed penalty from Gameiro. They went on to warm up for this game with a 1-1 draw on this ground in La Liga at the weekend, despite Fazio’s early red card putting them up against it. Celta Vigo have to hope that they can pull off a miraculous result to turn things around, but it would be a huge shock if they could hit four or more to achieve the unthinkable.
We tipped Sevilla to win that game along with a speculative handicap punt on Barcelona -2.5 when they hosted Valencia. That result was also never in doubt as Suarez and Messi went to town on Gary Neville’s team with the former grabbing four goals and the latter helping himself to a hat trick. The 7-0 humiliation was the worst result of Neville’s brief spell in charge and he looks to be treading a fine line at the moment with confidence at rock bottom. Unfortunately for him, Barcelona are on the verge of beating Pep Guardiola’s record of 28 games unbeaten and they only need to avoid defeat here to bring up 29. That should give the Catalans enough motivation to take this seriously.
Valencia v Barcelona
Lionel Messi is likely to miss out having undergone tests this week in relation to the kidney problems he suffered around Christmas, and a handful of squad players are in line to get a run out. Barca still have a huge pool of talent to draw upon though, and Neymar and Suarez could both also make appearances. They followed up the first leg trouncing with a 2-0 win at Levante on the weekend, and that brought up a sequence of ten victories on the spin. They have been held to draws three times in the last ten road trips, but that is possibly the best that Valencia can hope for.
It’s a tough game to call for the Valencia coaching staff, as the tie is as good as over already but there is the element of pride to play for. After a run of 12 games without a win in the league, Valencia are in 14th position in the table and only four points above the bottom three. Gary Neville may opt to rest players here to keep them fresh for the upcoming league games, and while a win could do wonders to restore confidence, losing to a second string Barcelona with a full-strength side could be equally damaging. He may well choose to leave some of his big players out of the firing line, and if that’s the case Barcelona are easy to back to come away with yet another win.
Luis Enrique’s men are unbeaten in nine visits here since 2008, and with that record to aim for they should be motivated enough to pour more misery on a struggling Valencia team.
Celta Vigo v Sevilla
Celta Vigo may be 4-0 down, but there is value in backing them to win this match over 90 minutes at +200 with Coral
Sevilla took a huge step towards the final last week when they raced into a four-goal lead in the tie despite missing a first-half penalty. It’s difficult to imagine them throwing this one away, especially after securing a 1-1 draw at the weekend on this ground, when they had to play over 60 minutes with ten men. Spurs loanee defender Federico Fazio was issued his marching orders in the 25th minute, but his teammates performed admirably in his absence and even went into a one-goal lead courtesy of Daniel Carrico’s strike. Celta Vigo hit back in the 64th minute, but couldn’t find a winner despite putting Sevilla under considerable late pressure.
The aim here for Celta will be to equal that 4-0 scoreline and force extra-time, and no matter how unlikely it is, they have little option but to throw caution to the wind. Sevilla, like Barcelona, could happily lose this match by a goal or two and still progress comfortably, and that is sometimes a dangerous position to be in. Barca have that record to keep the minds focused, but for Sevilla this will be an exercise in getting through without too much effect on fitness and injuries.
The two sides are fairly close in terms of league position, with Sevilla holding onto 5th place with 37 points and Celta Vigo two places back in 7th with 35 points. Celta have a generally decent home record to count on, having won 5 of the last 9 on this ground, although the last two have been draws against Atletico Madrid and Thursday night’s opponents. They are also unbeaten in four matches against Sevilla on this ground since 2006.
The visitors have been much better at home this season than away, and it’s just three wins on the road for Sevilla this season – all of them in the cup. They have picked up more recently on their travels with a series of draws, but they are a different side when away from their own stadium. At a big price Celta Vigo are worth backing to edge their way into a lead, even if they fail to overturn the four-goal haul.
Barcelona to beat Valencia
Wednesday 10th February, 20:00 GMT
Celta Vigo to beat Sevilla
Thursday 11th February, 19:30 GMT
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