Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona have been nothing but rampant in the opening two games. Now, they face their first real obstacle in this road for the rebuild. The Catalans host the Europa League winners at the Camp Nou. Here’s the preview of the match between Barcelona and Sevilla.
Date and kick-off time: Sunday 04 October 2020, 21:00 CET
Stadium: Camp Nou
Competition: La Liga, matchday 5
Referee: Jesús Gil Manzano
The opening two games of this new season have been a breath of fresh air for the Cules. While the game vs Villarreal showed the individual brilliance and the change in the system, the later showed the enhanced team spirit and mental strength. The way the team played even after being down by one showed immense promise and a change of mentality at the club.
Ronald Koeman has done very well till now, although the teams faced by Barça have not been at their best lately. Now, he faces a complete side helmed by the impressive Julen Lopetegui. Since the appointment of the Spaniard, Sevilla have been showing great promise and results, finishing fourth and winning the Europa League last season. Despite the heartbreaking loss in the Super Cup final, they held the Bavarians for more than 100 minutes and could have easily won the cup if not for the brilliance of Manuel Neuer.
Barcelona and Sevilla are the only teams in La Liga this season with 100 per cent records, and only one will keep theirs at the end of this fixture. Not all La Liga clubs have hit their full stride yet, and a win here would put either of the two sides at a significant advantage at the top.
What to expect from Barcelona?
Two games, two wins, seven goals scored and zero conceded. Ronald Koeman has not only got the results so far but has done so in some style. The Dutchman has provided the right context for the players to thrive, and the players have repaid glamourously. Despite having only ten men on the pitch vs Celta, Barça still dominated the home side, getting better chances and finishing the game with a clean-sheet.
“We have only been together for five weeks, the team and the staff, and we are working well. It was noticeable against Celta, where we won suffering with one player less.”Ronald Koeman
With the red card, Clément Lenglet is out of this game, and Ronald Araújo will fill in for him. In the 45 plus minutes, the Uruguayan was reliable enough for the gaffer to trust him for a high profile game like this. The rest of the starting eleven picks itself aside from a case of fatigue from the last game. The much-awaited debut of the new right-back, Sergiño Dest could happen in the second half.
Fans cannot conclude much from a game where the team played with ten men for the majority of the time. But, for the optimists, the team defended as a unit, with the pressing effective in both phases. The same must continue against a much superior attack posing an imperial threat from the wings. With only three days between the two games, maintaining the same intensity for 90 minutes might be difficult. But, with five substitutes and an improved bench quality, Barça might just get through.
What to expect from Sevilla?
Julen Lopetegui’s change of fortunes is such a heart-warmer for any neutral fan. From getting sacked from both the Spanish National team and Real Madrid within a matter of months to winning the Europa League with Sevilla, he has redeemed himself. Julen Lopetegui’s tactical nous alongside the return of Monchi as the Sporting Director has once again put Los Palanganas back in trophy-winning ways.
“Sevilla are strong and it will be a difficult game, but we play at home, we have two victories and we trust ourselves.”Ronald Koeman
Monchi has replaced Ever Banega with another veteran and Sevilla legend in Rakitic. Marcos Acuña replaces the impressive Reguilon after the loan period ended. With the addition of Óscar Rodríguez, the team looks set for the season. Apart from finishing some chances, the side does almost everything right. The threat from the wings is constant, and with a forward like Luuk de Jong, the opposition centre-backs can never slack for a cross.
Fernando might be the pivotal piece in the Spaniard’s system, organising the play and shielding the backline. With Joan Jordán and Ivan Rakitic completing the midfield three, the creative burden lies on Suso and Joan Jordán to some extent. Rakitic late arrivals into the box might be a useful ploy against attacking sides. Jules Koundé must be at his absolute best to deal with Barça’s front four, and there’s every chance that he will be up to the task.
Previous games: WWWWW
Celta Vigo 0–3 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 4–0 Villarreal | La Liga
Barcelona 1–0 Elche | Joan Gamper Trophy
Barcelona 3–1 Girona | Club Friendly
Barcelona 3–1 Gimnastic| Club Friendly
Position in La Liga
6 points in 2 games
2 wins, 0 draws and 0 losses
7 Goals Scored, 0 Goals Conceded
+7 Goal Difference
Previous games: WWLLW
Sevilla 1–0 Levante | La Liga
Cadiz 1–3 Sevilla| La Liga
Bayern Munich 2–1 Sevilla | UEFA Super Cup
Sevilla 0–1 Athletic Bilbao | Club Friendly
Sevilla 2–1 Athletic Bilbao | Club Friendly
Position in La Liga
6 points in 2 games
2 win, 0 draw and 0 losses
4 Goals Scored, 1 Goal Conceded
+3 Goal Difference
Last 5 meetings
Sevilla 0–0 Barcelona | La Liga, 19/20
Barcelona 4–0 Sevilla | La Liga, 19/20
Sevilla 2–4 Barcelona | La Liga, 18/19
Barcelona 6–1 Sevilla | Copa del Rey
Sevilla 2–0 Barcelona | Copa del Rey
• Barcelona have won 24 of their last 27 home matches (LaLiga).
• Sevilla are undefeated in their last 17 matches (LaLiga).
• Barcelona have won their last 6 home matches against Sevilla in all competitions.
• Sevilla have kept a clean sheet in 6 of their last 8 matches (LaLiga).
• Ivan Rakitic returns to the Camp Nou to face his previous side.
Team news and possible line-ups
Injured: Samuel Umtiti (knee), Marc-André ter Stegen (Tendon), Junior Firpo
Suspended: Clément Lenglet
Roberto · Piqué · Ronald Araújo · Jordi Alba
Frenkie de Jong · Busquets
Griezmann · Coutinho · Fati
Coach: Ronald Koeman
Injured: Sébastien Corchia, Carlos Fernández, Bryan Gil
Navas · Koundé · Carlos · Acuña
Joan Jordán · Fernando · Rakitic
Suso · Luuk de Jong · Ocampos
Coach: Julen Lopetegui
For both the teams, the game will be a litmus test on how much they are prepared for the season. Sevilla’s Camp Nou visits have not been pretty for them, and with the Catalan side in form, Julen must set his side up to express their A-game to get a result out of this. Ronald Koeman will look forward to passing his first big challenge of the season and getting ready for the imminent El Classico. The writer’s prediction for the game: 3-1 win for the Catalans.
Predicted Barcelona lineup against Elche
The Copa del Rey game was an eye-opener in ways unimaginable. On the one hand, it brought some amazing takeaways. One such was the performance of Ronald Araujo, who has now not been dribbled past in his last 10 appearances.
At the same time, however, it bright to light some worrying signs. The youngsters given a chance failed to grab it tightly. The finishing was beyond poor. What more can be said of a night where the Catalans failed to score two penalties. At the end of the day, it once again required two assists from Pedri and a moment of brilliance from Dembele to take the Catalans home.
Barcelona’s tenure away from the Camp Nou goes on as they now move to the Estadio Martinez Valero. Ronald Koeman’s side now faces Elche, the 18th placed side in the Spanish top tier. Here is how Barcelona can lineup against Elche, as Ronald Koeman prepares yet another game with an unstable XI.
After a deserved rest in the Copa del Rey, Marc-Andre ter Stegen will be back in duty for the Blaugranas. The German was absolutely stellar for his side in the Super Cup and will look to produce more of his magic.
Ronald Araujo’s growth as a defender can just be described as meteoric. The trajectory of the young defender is mindblowing, as he continues producing 10/10 performances game after game. He will be in the heart of defence on the night, with Clement Lenglet by his side.
Sergi Roberto and Sergino Dest are both very close to their respective returns. However, we are likely to see Oscar Mingueza get a successive start at Right-back against Elche. The Spaniard has been solid in defence, and that is all is expected from a part-time full-back.
Junior Firpo started the game against Cornella but contributed very little. Hardly anything to convince the manager. That said, Jordi Alba, himself is coming off a terrible performance in the final of the Super-cup. The Spaniard will undoubtedly start, but will he impress?
Sergio Busquets will start the night as the defensive midfielder in the 4-3-3 setup. Though maybe not his best, his performance has seen a massive spike since the formation change. He will be a crucial factor on the night, given Jorge Almiron’s rather attack-minded setup.
Frenkie de Jong has been by far the most consistent midfielder for Barcelona, and his ability to decide games is finally getting the limelight it deserves. Just over the last month, the Dutch protege has grown in leaps and bounds. He will be a crucial part of the team on Sunday.
As one talks of prodigies, Pedri is the next biggest name to pop up. Coming on as a substitute, the youngster contributed to both of Barcelona’s goals in extra time, almost single-handedly setting up the second. Pedri is wise beyond his years, and it doesn’t take more than the naked eye to see that he is something special. He will round up the midfield for the League game.
Lionel Messi continues to serve his ban and misses the trip to Elche. That said, the onus is once again on Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Greizmann to step up. The French duo is expected to start, on the left-wing and right-wing respectively.
Dembele was the man who made the difference in the cup game. The ease with which he nets bangers doesn’t quite match his inability to finish chances on a platter. He will be looking to make the most of his chance to impress in the hope he can bag a contract extension soon, and end all rumours of his departure.
Martin Braithwaite will round up the starting XI. Amidst all the confusion, the Dane continues to work at his highest rate to contribute to the team. Though his quality can be doubted, his commitment cannot. He netted the second goal against Cornella in a neat fashion. Once again, he hopes to be on the scoresheet on Sunday.
Griezmann · Braithwaite · Dembele
Pedri · Busquets · de Jong
Alba · Lenglet · Araujo · Mingueza
Konrad de le Fuente impressed mightily in his time on the field against Cornella. His performance will surely seed the possibility of his getting more minutes in the League.
Riqui Puig could have made so much more of his chance to impress, but just couldn’t show his magic on the night. However, his quality off the bench cannot be doubted. It is a real possibility for him to see minutes on the night.
Miralem Pjanic dictated the midfield neatly in the previous game. He could feature towards the latter half of the game in place of Sergio Busquets.