Surprise La Liga title-chasers Sevilla will travel to the Basque Country to take on Alaves, who sit on the opposite end of the points table, on Friday night. While Sevilla will try to move within three points of Real Madrid, Alaves will hope to add to their dismal points tally and rekindle their hopes to crawl out of the drop zone.
Lady Luck hasn’t been kind on Alaves in recent months. They have only one win to show in their last 11 La Liga outings. This terrible run of results is now threatening Babazorros El Glorioso’s status as a La Liga club. They have been a fixture in the Spanish top-flight over the last six seasons, but an eighth successive season in the division doesn’t seem guaranteed by any means at this moment.
However, with 12 matches left to play, there is still enough time for Alaves to salvage their La Liga credentials. But, they need to turn around their wretched form as soon as possible. They are currently 19th on the standings; trailing 17th placed Granada by 4 points, which is not an insurmountable gap. Alaves can’t allow that gap to expand further.
Despite their poor form overall, Alaves have been a tough team to beat at Mendizorrotza. In their last five home matches, Alaves only lost to Barcelona. The hosts can also draw inspiration from their 2-2 draw against Sevilla in the reverse fixture. Not to mention, Sevilla have dropped points in all of their previous three away matches.
Alaves have a clean bill of health ahead of the Sevilla match. Mamadou Loum, who got his fifth booking of the season in Alaves’s 2-2 draw with Getafe, will be the only absentee. Pere Pons is expected to deputise for the Senegal international at central midfield.
Julen Lopetegui is giving his former employers Real Madrid a run for their money with his current side Sevilla. Under Lopetegui, Los Nervionenses have emerged as the closest competitors of Real for La Liga glory, outshining the likes of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. A win against Alaves will narrow down the point difference between Sevilla and Real Madrid to only three points.
Sevilla have lost only twice in the ongoing La Liga campaign, but they will be worried about the excessive number of draws they have had. They have shared the spoils in 4 of their last 6 La Liga matches. Three of their previous away trips have ended all square. Sevilla would be eager to return to winning ways away from home when they face Alaves.
Sevilla have not lifted the Spanish top-flight league title in 76 years; this season could be the best opportunity they have in years to end their league trophy drought. So, they would be desperate to pick up a win at Alaves.
Sevilla come on the back of a remarkable Derbi Sevillano win over Real Betis, who are having an exceptional season too. Ivan Rakitic and Munir El Haddadi put Sevilla in cruise control of the tie. Sergio Canales pulled one back for Betis, but it was too little too late to deny a Sevilla victory.
Manchester United loanee Anthony Martial has returned in training. So, he might make the bench at Mendizorrotza. Suso is nearing a return from an ankle injury he sustained in December, but he won’t feature for Sevilla before early April. Alejandro Gomez and Karim Rekik will also miss out because of injuries. Erik Lamela might be fit enough for selection, while Joules Kounde will come back to the heart of Sevilla’s defence after serving a red card suspension.
Both Sevilla and Alaves would set their eyes on a win to help their respective causes. Alaves have been a tough nut to crack at home lately, but they have failed to keep their composure against the La Liga big boys. Sevilla have enough quality to grind out a victory at Mendizorrotza.
Sevilla to win @ 1.95.
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