Barcelona will be aiming to close down the gap to the top four when they lock horns with Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium on Tuesday night.

Teams in La Liga will play their final matches of 2021 this midweek before heading into the mid-season break. And, Barcelona will be hoping to end the year on a high and move closer to the top four when they travel to Andalusia to take on Sevilla.

This past weekend, Barcelona put an end to a three-game winless streak in all competitions when they defeated Elche in a dramatic encounter at Camp Nou. Following the victory, the Catalans moved up to seventh place in the table, three points short of Rayo Vallecano in fourth. With Los Franjirrojos done for the year, the Blaugrana can usurp their position with a win on Tuesday, provided Atletico Madrid fail to pick up points against Granada.

Meanwhile, Sevilla are competing for the La Liga title and have moved to within six points of leaders Real Madrid, following their last-ditch 2-1 win over Atletico Madrid, which made it three victories in a row in La Liga for Julen Lopetegui’s side. With Carlo Ancelotti’s side scheduled to play Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday, Los Nervionenses could close the gap to the top with a win and put pressure on them.

The corresponding fixture last season ended in a 2-0 win for Barcelona, with goals coming from Ousmane Dembele and Lionel Messi. But with Sevilla in impressive form heading into Tuesday’s clash, a repeat of that result may be unlikely. Ahead of this crucial encounter at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Sevilla

Lucas Ocampos will not be available for selection after picking up an injury against Atletico Madrid. He joins Erik Lamela, Suso, Oliver Torres and Jesus Navas on the sidelines. The good news is that Youssef En-Nesyri has returned to training and will be in contention to feature on Tuesday. Diego Carlos and Gonzalo Montiel missed training on Monday, raising question marks on their involvement.

Fernando is expected to be back in the squad after serving out his suspension and could return to the starting XI at the expense of Thomas Delaney. He will pair up alongside former Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic and Joan Jordan in the middle of the park. The veteran midfielder will have his task cut out against the Catalans’ midfield runners, particularly Gavi.

Jules Kounde ought to move to the right-back slot in the absence of Navas and Montiel, while Ludwig Augustinsson comes in at left-back. Karim Rekik and Nemanja Gudelj could form a makeshift centre-back pairing for the home team, with Carlos’ involvement also a major doubt. The backline will guard Bono between the sticks.

Up top, En-Nesyri return bodes well for Sevilla, although Rafa Mir is expected to start as the No. 9, with the Moroccan likely to get some minutes from the bench. Alejandro Gomez is a certainty to feature on one of the flanks, with ex-Barça ace Munir El Haddadi likely to replace Lucas Ocampos on the other.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Bono; Kounde, Gudelj, Rekik, Augustinsson; Rakitic, Fernando, Jordan; Gomez, Mir, Munir

Barcelona

Barcelona have welcomed Gerard Pique back to the squad after he served out his suspension while youngster Ilias Akhomach also has got a call-up. Sergino Dest, Sergi Roberto, Pedri, Ansu Fati, Memphis Depay and Martin Braithwaite remain injured, while Yusuf Demir will miss out due to a stomach bug.

The 3-3-1-3 formation seems to be working quite well for Barcelona, at least on the attacking side of things, and Xavi is expected to stick with a similar setup on Tuesday night. However, he will seek major improvements from his defenders. Despite a string of unconvincing displays, Marc-Andre ter Stegen remains the undisputed starter in goal. The German will need to step up against the Andalusians this midweek.

The returning Pique should replace Eric Garcia at the heart of the three-man backline, with the veteran defender set to be flanked by Clement Lenglet and Ronald Araujo, both of whom looked shaky at the weekend. Captain Sergio Busquets will sit at the base of the midfield diamond and look to shield the backline and recycle possession efficiently.

Nico Gonzalez, who scored the winning goal against Elche, ought to return to the lineup, occupying one of the interior midfield spots, with Frenkie de Jong likely to occupy the other slot. At the tip of this midfield formation should be 17-year-old sensation Gavi, who was brilliant in the weekend clash against Elche. His ability to drive forward with the ball and play defence-splitting passes will be crucial for Barcelona.

Ousmane Dembele is finding his rhythm, which is a good sign for Barça, and he should continue on the right flank. With his recent displays, youngster Abde Ezzalzouli has made himself a permanent fixture on the other wing. Ferran Jutgla, who scored his first senior goal for the Catalans on Saturday, will lead the line ahead of Luuk de Jong.

Probable Lineup (3-3-1-3): ter Stegen; Araujo, Pique, Lenglet; de Jong, Busquets, Nico; Gavi; Dembele, Jutgla, Abde

Key Stats

  • Barcelona have won only one of their last seven away La Liga games (D4 L2). However, they have not lost any games on the road in the competition under Xavi Hernandez (W1 D1).
  • Sevilla have won only one of their last 28 La Liga games against Barcelona (D7 L20), with that victory coming back in 2015. 
  • Barcelona have had 15 different goalscorers in La Liga this season – the most in the competition. However, only six of these players have netted more than once in the competition.
  • Sevilla are unbeaten in their last ten home La Liga games, winning nine of them (D1).
  • Barcelona have never lost away from home in La Liga when playing on Tuesday (W9 D4).

Player to Watch

Gavi

Just 17 years of age, midfielder Gavi is carrying the weight of expectations of the Barcelona fans on his young shoulders. The breakout star of the season, the La Masia graduate, continues to improve with each game and put in a near-perfect all-round midfield display in the win against Elche last weekend. 

Able to drive forward and hit the target or play passes to break open defences, Gavi also displays great industry and intensity off the ball, always looking to hound the opponents to reclaim possession. Already a fan favourite, the teenage sensation will be aiming to build on his recent displays and end the calendar year on a high.

Prediction

Sevilla 2-1 Barcelona

Barcelona have shown some improvements under new manager Xavi Hernandez, but the signs are clear that they are still a work in progress. Considering that they were given a run for their money by bottom-half teams such as Elche and Osasuna in recent weeks, facing a side of Sevilla’s stature, who are in top form, will be a huge challenge.

Los Nervionenses have the best defensive record in La Liga, having let in just 12 goals. But a potential makeshift backline could be exploited by Barcelona. However, the visitors’ own defence has hardly looked in good form, and Sevilla have the quality to hurt them, more so with Youssef En-Nesyri back in the fray. As a result, The Hard Tackle is predicting a victory for Julen Lopetegui & co. to end the year on a positive note.

One Response to “Sevilla vs Barcelona Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats”

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  1. Mugisha says:

    Wow!!! best analysis

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