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.
Preview: Barcelona’s strongest XI against Real Madrid
The title race is well and truly wide open. With Atletico Madrid still leaking points and Real Madrid trying to cope up with the tight schedule the Champions League brings with it, Barcelona would hope to be the favourites.
Barcelona travels to Madrid to face a team missing some big names. Sergio Ramos, Rafael Varane, Eden Hazard and Daniel Carvajal all miss out on the decisive clash. Nevertheless, if Los Blancos‘ performance against Liverpool is anything to go by, El Clasico will be a battle to remember. Meanwhile, Barcelona will once again have the services of Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto.
The result on Saturday will count for so much in the title race. In this creme-de-la-creme of clashes, here is how Barcelona could lineup against Real Madrid.
Marc Andre ter Stegen is always the first name on the list for Ronald Koeman. At the Alfredo de Stefano, the German wall will don the gloves and aim to keep the Madrid attack at bay.
Gerard Pique finds himself back in the Squad, however, it seems unlikely he will be given a start considering lack of match fitness. The three-man defence system has worked wonders for the Catalans, and Koeman will not look to change the system. A trio of Ronald Araujo, Oscar Mingueza, and Clement Lenglet could possibly start on Saturday.
Oscar Mingueza has been rock solid and on a constant rise. With every passing game, the youngster’s confidence grows, and so does the performance. Meanwhile, Clement Lenglet had a tremendous game against Real Valladolid, hardly placing a foot wrong. The Frenchman finally looks to be hitting his stride. Ronald Araujo is fit and ready to start once again and will have to be the leader on the field on the night.
The midfield is where the game will be won or lost for Barcelona. The hosts boast of one of the most fearsome trios in midfield, who reiterated their greatness against Liverpool midweek.
Up against Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, it will be crucial for Frenkie de Jong to start in midfield. The Dutchman is one of the best in the business in controlling the tempo of the midfield.
The No.21 will be accompanied by Barcelona’s veteran maestro Sergio Busquets. Busquets will account for so much of controlling the midfield. Moreover, his distribution and defensive contributions will be invaluable.
Pedri will complete the midfield alongside the others. The recently internationally capped Spaniard will have to be on the top of his game at the di Stefano. He will be the fulcrum of Barcelona’s creative outlet.
Sergino Dest did face stagnation in performance last month. In the last few games, however, there has been a resurgence. The USMNT fullback has been more lively than ever in attack and has been completing take-one for fun. It will be crucial for him to exploit the right-wing on the night.
Jordi Alba will unsurprisingly continue to start at left wing-back. With Real Madrid being weakened at right-back, Alba will have his chance on a platter to once again come up trumps.
Ousmane Dembele has often been Koeman’s go-to option as a central player in the new formation. Once again, a two-man forward line could see the Frenchman return to duties in the front line.
Lionel Messi had a relatively quiet game against Valladolid, his first one in 2021. However, he will look to step up on the biggest stage in El Clasico, as he always does. The Argentine has been at the peak of his powers this year, and he could inspire the side to another title with a great game tonight.
Dembele · Messi
Alba · Pedri · Busquets · de Jong · Dest
Lenglet · Araujo · Mingueza
Antoine Griezmann, who recently welcomed his third child, will be more motivated than ever to return to his peak powers. The Frenchman undoubtedly has a celebration or two in store for the latest member of his family and will hunt for a chance to showcase it on Saturday.
Fransisco Trincao could come on for Ousmane Dembele late in the second half to bring in fresh legs. His intricate dribbling could prove invaluable on the night.
Ilaix Moriba could be utilized to ramp up the pressure in the midfield, while Riqui Puig is bound to get a few minutes as well.