Date and time: 3rd April 2022, 9:00 PM CET
Venue: Camp Nou
Competition: La Liga
Referee: Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez
Back in October, only a mad man would tell you that Barcelona would easily qualify for the top four. The Catalans sat in the bottom half of the table after a disastrous start to the season with seemingly no light at the end of the tunnel.
A few months into Xavi’s tenure and the tables have turned. The Blaugranes are now in the driver’s seat to finish second in the league and a win on Sunday would assure them of the same.
Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 12 games and have scored four goals in six of them. Most recently, they demolished La Liga leaders Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in ruthless fashion. After defeating Los Blancos, Barcelona now aim to displace Sevilla from second place.
What to expect from Barcelona?
Barcelona’s sudden return to life has seen several players earn international call-ups once again. The Spanish national team now has close to seven garnet and blue players in the mix.
Other stars like Ronald Araujo, Frenkie de Jong, and Memphis Depay amongst others had a busy international break too. Coming together for their first game in two weeks, it remains to be seen if Xavi opts to shuffle his cards.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen will start in goal on the night. The German participated in his country’s fixture against Israel but started on the bench for the following game against the Netherlands. He will look to keep his third consecutive clean sheet.
There have been rumours of Gerard Pique considering coming out of his retirement for the 2022 World Cup. However, he was not involved with the La Roja setup during this break and will come back fresh to take on Sevilla.
He will likely be partnered by Eric Garcia as Araujo played 180 minutes for Uruguay in the last week. Jordi Alba and Dani Alves could start at left-back and right-back respectively.
In midfield, Sergio Busquets is expected return to action after a well deserved two-week rest. The defensive midfielder was not called up by Luis Enrique, presumably as a normal rotation.
Pedri and Nico Gonzalez are expected to complete the midfield. While Frenkie de Jong has been sensational in recent games, his exhaustive international duty could prompt Xavi to give him a rest.
In attack, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang will likely play as the number nine. The centre-forward scored twice against Real Madrid and is already among La Liga’s top 20 goalscorers this season with seven goals.
Flanking him to the left and right will be Ferran Torres and Ousmane Dembele respectively, the same trio that defeated Los Blancos two weeks ago.
Predicted Barcelona XI: ter Stegen; Alves, Pique, Garcia, Alba; Nico, Busquets, Pedri; Dembele, Aubameyang, Torres
What to expect from Sevilla?
Julen Lopetegui’s side not only head into the clash at Camp Nou in poor form but also with a depleted squad. Six players are expected to be unavailable for the game on Sunday, putting the manager in a tricky situation.
Yassine Bounou was expected to miss this game due to a head injury, but has been named in the squad list for the encounter. As such, he should start in the goal.
The combination of Diego Carlos and Jules Kounde is expected to feature at the heart of the defence. Despite having a rough patch in the past few months, Sevilla have maintained one of Europe’s best defensive records.
Marcos Acuna will miss the clash against Barcelona with an injury, and Karim Rekik is best placed to take the Argentine’s place. Jesus Navas will complete the defensive line at right-back and will be up against Jordi Alba on the night.
Ivan Rakitic‘s will almost definitely start in midfield against his former club. He will be positioned to the right of Nemanja Gudelj who has been in good form heading into Sunday’s game. The final piece in midfield is expected to be Joan Jordan.
The trio of Jesus Corona, Youssef En Nesyri, Lucas Ocampos is expected to start in attack. The three players have eight goals and five assists amongst them in La Liga this season. Their pace will be a big challenge for Xavi’s side as the visitors will look to capitalise on the counterattacks.
Possible Sevilla lineup: Bono; Navas, Kounde, Carlos, Rekik; Rakitic, Gudelj, Jordan; Ocampos, En-Nesyri, Corona
The 23-year-old has been one of Sevilla’s most impressive players this season and a key reason for the team’s unbelievable defensive record. He has played 23 league games for his team this season and has maintained 11 clean sheets in them.
The Frenchman averages one tackle and interception each, coupled with three clearances per game. He is also a vital component of the team in attack as he possesses the natural gift of carrying the ball forward with ease.
Barcelona previous games: WWWDW
Real Madrid 0-4 Barcelona | La Liga
Galatasaray 1-2 Barcelona | UEFA Europa League
Barcelona 4-0 Osasuna | La Liga
Barcelona 0-0 Galatasaray | UEFA Europa League
Elche 1-2 Barcelona | La Liga
Sevilla previous games: DLDWD
Sevilla 0-0 Real Sociedad | La Liga
West Ham 2-0 Sevilla | UEFA Europa League
Rayo Vallecano 1-1 Sevilla | La Liga
Sevilla 1-0 West Ham | UEFA Europa League
Alaves 0-0 Sevilla | La Liga
Head to head record
Sevilla 1-1 Barcelona | La Liga 2021-22
Barcelona 3-0 Sevilla | Copa del Rey 2020-21
Sevilla 0-2 Barcelona | La Liga 2020-21
Sevilla 2-0 Barcelona | Copa del Rey 2020-21
Barcelona 1-1 Sevilla | La Liga 2020-21
- Sevilla have conceded nine of their last 19 goals in between minutes 30 and 45.
- Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 12 games across all competitions.
- Sevilla have not won in their last three games.
- Sevilla have not won at Camp Nou since 2003.
- Sevilla have not won against Barcelona in their last three games.
Sevilla are a very difficult team to score against and Xavi’s side will have to work hard to find a way through. The key, however, could lie with Ousmane Dembele. The Frenchman has a brilliant record against Los Nervionenses and will look to deliver an impactful performance in front of the home fans.
Barca Universal prediction: Barcelona 3-1 Sevilla