Barcelona will be aiming to overturn a two-goal deficit and qualify for the penultimate stage of the Copa del Rey when they host Sevilla on Wednesday.
The Last Eight stage of the Copa del Rey will be concluded this midweek, with the four second leg ties being played out. One of the most tantalisingly poised quarter-finals will resume at Camp Nou, where Barcelona play hosts to Sevilla, hoping to script a fine comeback tale.
Barcelona are starting to make a habit of losing away legs of their cup ties, having been defeated by both Levante and Sevilla in each of the last two rounds. At home, however, Ernesto Valverde’s men have been unbeatable on most occasions, with Real Betis the only side that has managed to get the better of them at Camp Nou.
Sevilla, on the other hand, seem to have been buoyed by the victory in the first leg last week as they handed a 5-0 trouncing to Levante this past weekend. The objective will now be to remain grounded and put in the hard yards in order to reach the semi-finals at the expense of the hosts.
The first leg, as iterated earlier, ended with Sevilla taking the spoils in a 2-0 win over Barcelona at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium last week. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the Copa del Rey encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Ernesto Valverde does not have any fresh injury concerns bothering him ahead of the visit of Sevilla. On Wednesday, the Barcelona boss will be without just three first-team players, with Samuel Umtiti (knee), Rafinha (ACL) and Ousmane Dembele (ankle) still recovering from their injuries.
In addition to the trio, Jeison Murillo and Sergi Samper have been left out of the matchday squad, while Denis Suarez has played his last game for Barcelona, ahead of sealing a move to Arsenal. The good news though, is that Lionel Messi is back in the squad for a cup game once again, after the gamble to rest him last week backfired.
The Barcelona captain should start, with Philippe Coutinho continuing in Dembele’s stead as well. The final spot in attack will be a toss-up between Luis Suarez and Kevin-Prince Boateng. Valverde has shown that he is willing to give some of his fringe players the chances, even when the side has its back against the wall, meaning Boateng should start.
In midfield, Sergio Busquets is a certain starter, considering he will be suspended for the league game against Valencia this weekend. Arthur should start as well, with the Brazilian only being a second half substitute against Girona.
Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal and Carles Alena will be contesting for the third spot in midfield, with Rakitic likely to get the nod, considering the stakes involved in the game. The back four, meanwhile, seems to be an automatic pick, with Nelson Semedo missing out. Jasper Cillessen should resume his customary cup duties in the Barcelona goal.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Cillessen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur; Messi, Boateng, Coutinho
Pablo Machin has a number of injury problems hampering his preparations for the trip to Barcelona. On Wednesday, the Sevilla boss will be without as many as six first-team players, with Maxime Gonalons (ankle) and Nolito (leg) being long-term absentees.
Apart from the aforementioned duo, Joris Gnagnon (thigh), Sergio Escudero (fatigue), Aleix Vidal (hamstring) and Jesus Navas (hamstring) are also struggling with their respective problems. There is some good news, however, with Sergi Gomez fit and available after he was taken off with a hip injury against Levante.
Gomez should thus, start as part of the Sevilla back-three, with the returning duo of Gabriel Mercado and Simon Kjaer giving him company. Juan Soriano is likely to retain his place in goal, as has been the case for cup games, following a solid performance against Barcelona last week.
Meanwhile, the absence of Navas and Vidal means Machin might have to depend on a makeshift right wing-back, unless he names Javi Vazquez in the starting lineup. Instead, Quincy Promes is likely to move to the right flank, with Guilherme Arana starting on the left flank.
In the middle of the park, Ibrahim Amadou, Ever Banega and Pablo Sarabia are certain starters, judging by the Sevilla manager’s team selection decisions this past weekend. Upfront, with Promes starting as the right wing-back, Andre Silva and Wissam Ben Yedder become certain starters.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Soriano; Mercado, Kjaer, Gomez; Promes, Sarabia, Amadou, Banega, Arana; Silva, Ben Yedder
- Last week’s 2-0 win was only Sevilla’s 11th win over Barcelona in 54 meetings between the two sides (D13 L30).
- The result also ended Barcelona’s 11-match unbeaten run against Sevilla, dating back to February 2016 (W9 D2).
- Sevilla have not beaten Barcelona at Camp Nou since a 2-1 win in this competition just over nine years ago.
- Sevilla have scored in seven of their last nine away games at Barcelona in all competitions, and in La Liga only the Catalans have scored more goals than Pablo Machin’s side.
- Sevilla are Lionel Messi’s favourite opponents, with the Barcelona captain having a direct hand in 46 goals in 35 matches against the Andalusians (32 goals, 14 assists).
Player to Watch
His debut, just a day after joining Barcelona did not quite go as planned. But, having trained with his new teammates for a week now, Boateng will look to make amends and help the Blaugrana overturn the daunting two-goal deficit.
If he can manage to produce a match defining performance, the Ghanaian attacker will have also helped his case for regular inclusion in the bigger games in Europe and La Liga. For now, the objective remains to get a convincing win that will ensure Barcelona’s safe passage through to the Copa del Rey semi-finals.
Barcelona 3-1 Sevilla
Seldom have sides stopped Barcelona from scoring at Camp Nou. In fact, even in defeat to Real Betis two months ago, the Catalans managed to find the back of the net thrice. And so, it is unlikely that the hosts will not manage to score a few goals on Wednesday, particularly with Lionel Messi poised to start against his favourite opponents.
Sevilla though, are no pushovers, having been the second most prolific side in La Liga. The visitors are expected to make a fight out of it and put the pressure on the vulnerable Barcelona defence. And, in the Blaugrana’s bid to score three or more goals, Pablo Machin’s men should get plenty of openings in the final third.
The Hard Tackle expects a keenly contested affair, with Barcelona winning the second leg. But, we also think Sevilla will find the back of the net once, in what could be a 3-1 loss for them, albeit a result that will send Ernesto Valverde’s men packing from the Copa del Rey, and the visitors into the semi-finals.