THE squeeze is on and tonight Barcelona must tighten the gap between them and their eternal rivals if they're to keep their flickering title ambitions alive.

Trailing the men from Madrid by 10 points, the league table reads like alternative history of a side that's continued to break records and enthrall spectators all season.

But their patchwork displays away from home in La Liga and a rift with Lady Luck has humbled the untouchables, diluting an aura of invincibility and Sevilla will look to capitalise on that tonight.

The sad news this week about Eric Abidal's break from the game to undergo a liver transplant could also have an effect on a Barcelona side already under the cosh.

It may, though, spark a positive show of unity for the French international from the rest of his Nou Camp team-mates. With some breathing room before the next round of the Champions League and an eye on that testing double-header with AC Milan, Carles Puyol will likely be drafted back into defence.

Alexis Sanchez (evens, Bet Victor to score any point) could return up front for Barca but he'll need to replace impressive, young talent Cristian Tello.

Sevilla are the only side to avoid defeat at the Nou Camp in La Liga this season – with nine men no less – earning a gallus point back in October when the heroics of Andalusian shot-stopper Javi Vargas. The keeper denied Lionel Messi from the spot in the eighth minute of stoppage time. Skybet are offering 2-1 a penalty is awarded and 16-1 (Blue Square) that it's missed.

They have a history of frustrating the Catalans, earning a 1-1 draw in this fixture last season and shocking the Blaugrana in the first leg of the 2010 Super Cup 3-1.

Not that he needs the motivation but a Messi, who has netted an astounding 13 times in his last five games, could be looking to make up for his spot-kick miss last time around. He helped himself to a double last week and he's 8-15 to net at any point (Stan James) while a hat-trick is 8-1 with Coral. An interesting option is the 5-2 being offered by Skybet on the Argentine scoring in both halves.

Sevilla have struggled since losing to Sporting Gijon and their Champions League hopes are fading with Athletic Bilbao, Osasuna, Levante and Malaga all above above them.

A clean bet on a Barcelona victory isn't worth the risk in a potentially tricky tie, so looking at the handicap market could be a better option. Barca -2 pays out at 15-8 with bet365 and tie that with over 3.5 goals at 5-4.

Both teams to score is also a decent option at 5-6 (bet365).


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