Barcelona will be hoping to leapfrog Villarreal at the top of the La Liga table, as they travel to Seville for a difficult encounter. Key players are ruled out for Barcelona, but Sevilla have struggled to find any sort of momentum this season to trouble last season’s champions.
Unai Emery’s side picked up their first win of the season against Rayo Vallecano, as Yehven Konoplyanka scored the winner right at the death to secure a 3-2 victory. The team’s poor form at the start of the season has left them 16th in the standings, 11 points adrift of league leaders Villarreal.
The lack of wins during the 2015-16 campaign has seen the manager’s position questioned in the Spanish media, but club president Jose Castro has insisted that Emery is not under pressure. Sevilla have been struggling defensively in the league, letting in 10 goals in their first six fixtures while keeping just one clean sheet so far a only Granada have failed to keep their opponents out more often.
Sevilla are fresh from a 2-0 defeat at the hands of last season’s Champions League finalists Juventus, and will be looking to find some momentum against the current La Liga champions.
Luis Enrique’s Barcelona, like Sevilla, were also in Champions League action in midweek where they came from a goal down to beat German side Bayer Leverkusen, giving them their first win in the competition. The Catalans had drawn against AS Roma in their opening fixture of the tournament.
Barcelona have had one of the stronger attacks in the Spanish league, netting 11 times in their first six fixtures – only three sides have scored more. Luis Suarez and Neymar are the team’s top scorers so far, having each netted three goals this season. Defending has also been hit and miss for Barcelona this season, with the team keeping just two clean sheets in their opening six outings while letting in seven goals. Although four of those did come in the defeat to Celta Vigo last month.
Tactics & Team news
Barcelona have a long injury list, with Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta added to the list after picking up injuries against Las Palmas and Bayer Leverkusen respectively. Rafinha and Thomas Vermaelen are the other players who are ruled out. Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has been sidelined with a calf injury at the start of this season, but returned to training earlier this week, so could feature in place of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Possible starting XI: Ter Stegen; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets (C), Sergi Roberto, Rakitic; Neymar, Suarez, Munir
The home side should have Vitolo and Fernando Llorente available again. The duo missed last weekend’s match against Rayo, and were rested for the trip to Turin in the Champions League in a bid to get them 100% fit for the match against Barcelona.
Possible starting XI: Rico; Coke, Kolodziejczak, Andrelli, Tremoulinas; Krychowiak, N’zonzi; Vitolo, Iborra, Reyes (C); Gameiro
- The last game between these two sides was the European Supercup, where the Catalans defeated the Andalusians 5-4, with Pedro, who has since left Barcelona, scoring a late winner.
- The last time Sevilla defeated Barcelona in La Liga was in March 2007; 2-1 with a winning free-kick goal from Dani Alves (D4 L12).
- This match was also the last occasion that a Barcelona player was sent off against Sevilla. In fact, two players saw red: Ludovic Giuly and Gianluca Zambrotta.
- Sevilla have not beaten Barcelona since 2010, losing eight of the 12 meetings between the two sides since then, including last season’s 5-1 hammering at Camp Nou.
- Sevilla have won just 10 of the 46 previous meetings between the two sides, while Barcelona have beaten this weekend’s opponents 26 times, with 10 fixtures finishing in draws.
Player to watch
In the absence of Messi and Neymar, Luis Suarez will not be seen linking up with the two players either side of him, but, we could see some of his individual brilliance that is so often neglected at Barcelona.
The former Liverpool man has had rough patches since moving to Barcelona, but he remains one of the most pivotal figures in the Barcelona team. Luis Enrique believes Suarez’s ability has never been a doubt, and tomorrow could be a treat for Suarez fans.
Sevilla 1-2 Barcelona
The visitors will be without talisman Lionel Messi, but they still look more than capable of knocking off a Sevilla side who have struggled to rediscover the form that helped them win the Europa League last season.
Blast from the past: