Sevilla to pile pressure on leaders Real Madrid
Second place Sevilla head eastwards to face Valencia for their Wednesday evening La Liga clash at the Mestella. The visitors are currently five points behind Real Madrid at the summit, and this game could bring them to within striking distance with the same number played. Julen Lopetegui's men have gained 16 points from their previous six, and will be confident of getting the result they require. Read our preview here:
Ready for Guedes
José Bordalás has had a decent start to life as head coach of Los murciélagos, and the bitterly disappointing 13th position of last term is unlikely to be repeated. They have successfully navigated some tricky Copa del Rey ties, though in the league, recent ill-discipline has started to cost them dearly. Nine first team members are likely to be missing on Wednesday for a whole slew of reasons. Thierry Correia and Denis Cheryshev have tested positive for Covid, while Carlos Soler and Gabriel Paulista remain on the sidelines, further denting the side's ability to bounce back. However, the nominal 4-4-2 shape employed makes the most of Gonçalo Guedes' talents. The Portuguese forward has accrued seven goals and four assists, operating in between the lines to great effect.
In the firelight, Fernando!
The visitors also have key personnel out of contention. Suso, Jesús Navas, and Erik Lamela are certainties to be watching from the stands, whereas both Munir and Youssef En-Nesyri are at AFCON. Lopetegui is unlikely to make any sweeping changes to a winning side in any case, with numerical superiority in the middle of the pitch. Lucas Ocampos and Papu Gómez will drift inside to pull the hosts' full-backs out of position, and the latter is adept at taking shots from range. Without an equivalent, Fernando will hold court between the midfield and defence, using his aerial ability and distribution to enact swift counters.
Blancos vs Rojiblancos?
With a Barcelona outfit that can be most charitably described as 'in transition' and current holders Atlético well off the pace, only Sevilla look to have a chance of making a challenge for the title with Real Madrid. Valencia are always tough opponents, especially at home, but this is precisely the kind of encounter the visitors must win to match the world giants. Parimatch have odds of 2.30 for Lopetegui to make it 19 points from 21.