Following a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Elche in La Liga Santander, Barcelona are once again on the road as they ready themselves to face a Sevilla side in blistering form.
Date and Kickoff Time: 27th February 2021; 14:15 CET
Stadium: Ramon Sánchez Pizjuan
Competition: La Liga Santander
Referee: Alejandro Hernandez
The last time Fútbol Club Barcelona and Sevilla faced off, two golazos, first by Jules Koundé and then former Blaugrana Ivan Rakitić, sealed a comfortable 2-0 victory for Julen Lopetegui’s side. Ronald Koeman’s outfit were, by and large, the inferior side in the game, as for large streaks of the match the attack failed to generate any clear cut chances. The defence, on the other hand, gave away two easy goalscoring opportunities and were duly punished for their carelessness.
Heading into tomorrow afternoon’s game, both sides find themselves in starkly contrasting form. Subsequent to their one-all draw against Cádiz, the Catalans reclaimed a third place on the log with a Lionel Messi inspired 3-0 Victory.
It was, in many ways, a game of two halves, with a dull first half performance supplanted with a much more dominant second period. That clean sheet was Barça’s first in eight games, and it should offer a much-needed confidence boost heading into their top of the table clash with Sevilla.
Las Palanganas are a side that need no introduction. Sitting fourth on the table and with a game in hand over the Azulgrana, Julen Lopetegui’s side are in the form of their lives. Ever since their agonizing 0-2 loss against Atletico de Madrid, Los Nervionenses have won six in a row in La Liga, with the only blemish being their 2-3 home defeat to Borussia Dortmund in their first-leg Champions League tie.
What to expect from Sevilla?
Now firmly among La Liga’s heavyweights, Sevilla are in good enough a position to challenge for the league title. After all, they are just seven points behind leaders Atleti and with an equal number of games played too.
Julen Lopetegui’s side have a consistent setup, as they often look to deploy a 4-3-3 for maximal control of the midfield, as well as the wider areas on the pitch. They are as organized a team as they come in Spain’s top flight with a robust press, this emphasized by their staggeringly low PPDA of 7.5, the least in the entire division.
They are expected to play much of the same starting eleven as they did against Barça last time out and will play on the Catalans’ weaknesses, particularly their inability to handle the pressure for more than a few minutes. This will be a test for Ronald Koeman’s charges to prove to their impatient fanbase that they truly are capable of being one of La Liga’s hard hitters, one they just have to win.
What to expect from Barcelona?
The game against Elche was the perfect opportunity for Barcelona to put pressure on those above them, and they did, grabbing all three points with goals from Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba. While a seemingly dominant result, the Catalans did face some trouble early on, and the problems encountered will have a drastic influence on Ronald Koeman’s decisions in this tie.
The Dutch manager is expected to make several key changes to his starting eleven, with the biggest of which occurring in midfield and attack.
At right-back, on the back of a remarkable performance at home, Oscar Mingueza might hold down the fort against Sevilla. In central defence, Gerard Piqué is a must for the tie, though questions still linger over who, between Clément Lenglet, Ronald Araújo and Samuel Umtiti, should be partnering him as the left centre-back.
The Uruguayan has been out through injury for almost a month and just returned, while the other twoare far from dependable in big games. Koeman might pick Araújo given his proven defensive resilience, though it is as big a gamble as they come, as any wrong move could result in yet another excruciatingly long injury.
In midfield, following yet another distasteful performance, Miralem Pjanić will almost certainly see himself benched for Sergio Busquets, while Pedri Gonzales and Frenkie de Jong fill the other two spots.
The final third raises many questions but offers few answers. Francisco Trincão had a morale-boosting performance against Elche. However, he might be used as nothing more than a sub for this game, with Ousmane Dembele coming back in on the right-wing. On the left flank and on the back of a remarkable second-half performance, Martin Braithwaite could start for the second time in a row, though the magnitude of the game suggests that Antoine Griezmann is an easy pick.
A man who not only sees but also lives the game, Jules Kounde is surely one Barça must set their eyes on. His tactical profile makes for an interesting mix, as he gradually evolves into more than just your average centre-back. Through his dynamic dribbling ability upfront and airtight defending in the first third of the pitch, Barcelona will have the toughest of trials to overcome if at all they wish to get anything positive out of this match.
Previous Games: WLWWW
Osasuna 0-2 Sevilla | La Liga
Sevilla 2-3 Borussia Dortmund | UEFA Champions League
Sevilla 1-0 Huesca | La Liga
Sevilla 2-0 Barcelona | La Liga
Sevilla 3-0 Getafe | La Liga
Position in La Liga
48 points in 23 games
15 win, 3 draws, 5 losses
34 goals scored, 16 goals conceded
18 goal difference
Previous games: WDLWL
Barcelona 3-0 Elche | La Liga
Barcelona 1-1 Cádiz | La Liga
Barcelona 1-4 PSG | UEFA Champions League
Barcelona 5-1 Deportivo Alavés | La Liga
Sevilla 2-0 Barcelona | Copa Del Rey
Position in La Liga
50 points in 24 games
15 wins, 5 draws and 4 losses
53 Goals Scored, 22 Goals Conceded
+31 Goal Difference
Head to head record
Sevilla 2–0 Barcelona | Copa del Rey 20/21
Barcelona 1-1 Sevilla | La Liga, 20/21
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 are on a run of 14 games without defeat in La Liga.
- Barcelona are on a of 3 games without victory against Sevilla.
- Sevilla have won each of their last 6 La Liga matches.
- Sevilla have the joint best defensive record in La Liga.
Injuries: Marcos Acuña, Lucas Ocampos
Navas · Koundé · Carlos · Escudero
Rakitić · Fernando · Jordán
Suso · En Nesyri · Papu Gómez
Coach: Julen Lopetegui
Injuries: Ansu Fati (knee), Philippe Coutinho (knee), Sergi Roberto (muscular), Miralem Pjanic (ankle)
Mingueza · Piqué · Araújo · Alba
Pedri · Busquets · de Jong
Dembele · Messi · Griezmann
Coach: Ronald Koeman
The past three outings between these dudes have been far from what one might call classics, especially given the relative lack of goals. This is as equal a tie as Barcelona could ask for, and assuming they can play to their strengths, and mitigate those of their opponents, they might be on course for all three points.
Barca Universal prediction: Sevilla 1-2 Barcelona
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.