Barcelona v Sevilla, Copa del Rey, January 5, 2010
“The cup isn’t won by the best team, rather the one that has the most luck. It’s possible to beat Barcelona over 180 and 90 minutes. I trust in my players, but it’s not easy because Barcelona is a great team.” – Sevilla coach Manolo Jimenez. (Barcelona are 4/11 to win the tie, Sevilla are 5/6.)
Pep Guardiola has had plenty of time to wipe away his tears after seeing Barcelona wrap up six historic trophies in 2009 as his Catalans began 2010 with a bump at the weekend.
A below-par performance for the all-conquering Barca at the weekend saw Villarreal leave the Nou Camp with a creditable 1-all draw in which burgeoning striker Pedro Rodriguez saw his opener for the hosts cancelled out by Diego Fuster in the second half. The result signified the first time this season that Barcelona had failed to collect all three points from a league fixture in front of their own fans.
Sevilla also disappointed at the weekend, losing 2-1 to inconsistent outfit Atletico Madrid despite having taking the lead through a Renato header. The match also had greater importance than just losing three points for Sevilla, as the Andalusians watched on as their team selections problems became even more difficult than had previously been expected.
Coach Jimenez was already without Frederic Kanoute, Luis Fabiano, Didier Zokora, Sergio Sanchez, Federico Fazio, Lautaro Acosta, Javi Varas and Tom de Mul for various reasons involving international duties and a range of injuries. But Sevilla were dealt further misfortune as defender Sebastien Squillaci and midfielder Adriano Correia both picking up ankle injuries at the Vicente Calderon. (Sevilla are 4/1 to keep a clean sheet.)
That means that, even with the expected return to health of Julien Escude following illness, Jimenez still only has 14 senior players available for the last-16 trip to Barca and as such has had to draft in youngsters Dani Jimenez, Jose Carlos Fernandez, Cala and Manuel Redondo.
By contrast, Barcelona have the luxury of being able to recall World Player of the Year Lionel Messi after the pocket-sized Argentine was rested for the stalemate with the Yellow Submarine. Additionally, Guardiola can also call on the relatively fresh legs of midfielder Andres Iniesta, after the number 8 played less than a full half at the weekend. (Barcelona are 9/4 to win both halves.)
Sevilla have picked up just one win in their last eight matches with Barcelona, that being a 2-1 home victory back in March 2007 (8/11 to be under 2.5 goals), and once again it seems difficult to look past another Catalans victory.
101predicts: Barcelona 3 – Sevilla 0 (11/1)
Full match odds here.