La Liga champions Barcelona will be aiming to pick up their fourth victory in a row, when they host Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla on Sunday night.

Reigning champions Barcelona will be hoping to extend their winning run when they face off against Sevilla at Camp Nou on Matchday 8 of the 2019-20 La Liga season on Sunday.

It hasn’t been the most prolific of starts to the campaign for Barcelona, but Ernesto Valverde’s men head into the weekend encounter on the back of a three-game winning streak in all competitions. Currently fourth in the La Liga table, the Catalans defeated Getafe 2-0 on the previous matchday and followed it up with a 2-1 win over Inter Milan in the Champions League.

While their away form has been iffy, Barcelona have a 100% record at home and they will be keen on maintaining that with another win on Sunday. However, Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla side will pose a serious threat to their perfect run at Camp Nou.

Sevilla are currently stationed at sixth in the league table, with 13 points on the board from 7 matches. After their capitulation against Eibar last month, the Andalusian giants have recovered well, registering wins against Real Sociedad and APOEL Nicosia (Europa League) and will be hoping to build on that momentum against the Blaugrana.

Ahead of this enticing match-up at Camp Nou on Sunday night, we at The Hard Tackle take a close look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Barcelona

Ernesto Valverde has some problems in defence as Clement Lenglet is suspended for the contest after being sent off in the last game, while Samuel Umtiti and Junior Firpo are out with injuries. But, there is some good news as well, as Jordi Alba and Ansu Fati are fit again and have been included in the 19-man squad named by the manager.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen has been in fine form and will continue to man the Barcelona goal. Gerard Pique, who has struggled for consistency this term, will partner up with Jean-Clair Todibo at the heart of the defence. The returning Alba will take his rightful place on the left side of the backline, with Nelson Semedo moving back to the right-back slot.

Arturo Vidal was the catalyst in the win against Inter after coming on as a substitute, but is unlikely to get the nod in the starting lineup on Sunday. Instead, Valverde is likely to stick with the trio of Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong and Arthur Melo, who all started against the Nerazzurri.

Luis Suarez grabbed a brace in the midweek which will have done wonders to his confidence. Expect him to lead the line for Barcelona with renewed vigour. Captain Lionel Messi will continue on the right flank for the Catalans, but there could be a change on the opposite flank as the misfiring Antoine Griezmann could make way for Ousmane Dembele.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Todibo, Alba; de Jong, Busquets, Arthur; Messi, Suarez, Dembele

Sevilla

Sevilla have been boosted by the return of defender Daniel Carrico, who missed the last two matches after getting injured against Eibar. Sergi Gomez misses out after picking up an injury in the midweek fixture, while teenager Bryan Gil, who has featured twice this season, will be involved with the Under-19s.

There will be changes to the side that started in the Europa League clash against APOEL, given that manager Julen Lopetegui opted to leave out quite a few of his regulars on Thursday night. Tomas Vaclik should return in goal in place of Bono, while Jesus Navas and Sergio Reguilon are expected to reclaim the full-back slots on Sunday.

Diego Carlos is a certainty to feature at the heart of the Sevilla defence. Carrico, despite returning to the 21-man squad travelling to Barcelona, is unlikely to be rushed back, with Jules Kounde set to start again.

Seasoned campaigner Ever Banega is a shoe-in in the three-man midfield for Sevilla. Former Manchester City man Fernando will play the anchorman role in the centre, while the third midfield slot will be a toss-up between summer arrivals Joan Jordan and Oliver Torres, with the latter likely to get the nod.

Lucas Ocampos and Nolito, both of whom scored in the league win against Real Sociedad, are expected to return on right and left flanks respectively. Luuk de Jong should spearhead the Sevilla attack ahead of Javier Hernandez, despite the Mexican scoring against APOEL.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Vaclik; Navas, Kounde, Carlos, Reguilon; Banega, Fernando, Torres; Ocampos, de Jong, Nolito

Key Stats

  • Barcelona have defeated Sevilla 82 times in La Liga history, more than any other team has beaten the Andalusian side in the competition.
  • Sevilla have won just one of their last 24 La Liga games against Barcelona (D5 L18) – a 2-1 victory in October 2015 – keeping a clean sheet in just one of those 24 matches.
  • Barcelona have only lost one of their last 58 league games at Camp Nou (W48 D9), with Real Betis getting the better of them in November 2018.
  • Sevilla have not won on any of their last 16 La Liga trips to Camp Nou (D2 L14), conceding 44 goals in total.
  • Barcelona captain Lionel Messi has been involved in at least one goal in 20 of his last 21 appearances against Sevilla in all competitions (23 goals and 14 assists).

Player to Watch

Ousmane Dembele

A chance for Dembele to reclaim his starting spot (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

A chance for Dembele to reclaim his starting spot (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

It has been a slow start to the 2019-20 campaign for Ousmane Dembele, after he picked up an injury in the opening game against Athletic Bilbao. The Frenchman has since returned from injury and has made two substitute appearances, making a decent impression, particularly in the game against Villarreal.

With Antoine Griezmann struggling to get going for his new club and teenage sensation Ansu Fati just recovering from an injury, Dembele could be presented with an opportunity to work his way back into the Barcelona starting XI. And a strong performance against Sevilla on Sunday could go a long way in helping him achieve just that.

Prediction

Barcelona 2-1 Sevilla

Barcelona have looked vulnerable in defence all season long and with Clement Lenglet missing, they will be there for the taking. However, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez looked deadly in the second half against Inter and that could spell trouble for Sevilla, who themselves haven’t been all too solid at the back.

Given the Catalans’ issues at the back, it is quite plausible that Sevilla will deny Marc-Andre ter Stegen a clean sheet on Sunday. However, Barcelona’s record at Camp Nou speaks for itself and hence, we at The Hard Tackle are predicting another victory for the reigning champs in their own backyard.

Leave A Comment...

*