Barcelona have won two out of two after the restart with each game giving different outlooks. Now, they travel to Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán for their toughest test yet. Here’s the preview of the match between Sevilla and Barcelona.
Date and kick-off time: Friday, 19 June 2020, 22:00 CET
Stadium: Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, Seville
Competition: La Liga, matchday 30
Referee: José Luis González González
From no games in three months to three games inside a week, the fans have been kept busy and entertained. After the blistering start at Mallorca‘s Son Moix, Barcelona beat Leganés at the Camp Nou by 2–0. While the victory was far from the dominant show the Catalans displayed in the previous game, where they won by 0–4, the three points are crucial nonetheless. Leganés were extremely hard to break down, as Barça struggled to get near the area. However, with two moments of magic, Barça got away with the win.
Barcelona put four past Sevilla’s Tomáš Vaclík at the Camp Nou in the reverse fixture | Photo by Aitor Alcalde via Getty Images
Now, the squad travels to Seville to meet their most challenging opponent since the restart. Sevilla are a fantastic team, and the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán is their stronghold. They are a menacing team in their home ground, displaying confident and attacking football. Yet, without their fans, the stadium will be less threatening, and Barça can go on with their game without any distraction.
While the Catalans go into the game with their 100% record after the break, Sevilla drew with Levante after beating Real Betis. They are currently third in the table with Atlético de Madrid, Getafe and Real Sociedad breathing down their necks. The race for the European spots is troublesome this time around, and they might not like to lose points at their home.
What to expect from Sevilla?
Sevilla have always been an impressive side to face in the league. They almost always finish in the European spots and have been successful internationally too. This season, under coach Julen Lopetegui, Sevilla have been particularly pleasing. They started the campaign in marvellous form, dropped off a bit, boosted from other teams’ dipping form and now remain third in the table.
Nevertheless, post the break, they have been struggling to create precise chances and instil their gameplan on the pitch. Against an uninspiring Real Betis, despite winning, they could not dominate and finish off the game. Levante left them settling for a draw after equalising late in the game. Understandably, the interval left them a little rusty and with games, their overall gameplay will improve.
❛ Barça are a great team and they have Messi too. We will try to face them while being recognisable, but taking everything to the limit to stop Messi and the rest ❜
Sevilla coach ahead of hosting Barcelona
Sevilla have a mixture of both experience and youth. Younger players like Lucas Ocampos, Sergio Reguilón and Jules Koundé have been performing every other week. The older veterans like Fernando Reges, Jesús Navas and Luuk de Jong not only bring the vast experience, but are essential for the system. Unlike Leganés, Sevilla won’t sit back and defend, but are more than capable of striking their influence on the attacking side of things.
What to expect from Barcelona?
The two games have been quite different for Barcelona. While in the first one, they had a lot of space, in the later game, they struggled to break the tight defence. Leganés held their ground for most of the match, preventing Barcelona from entering the box. They crowded Lionel Messi and prevented him from breaking the lines, and Antoine Griezmann could not affect the game with the three marauding centre-backs. The midfield was immobile, with no one making runs into the box and Barcelona lost the numbers battle in the box.
❛ We are focused on being capable of answering this great challenge of facing Barcelona, who are strong again and have clear signs of their identity ❜
While the instinct to win the game nonetheless is appreciable, there are a lot of places to improve. With a lack of regulation wingers, the blaugranas do not make use of the flanks and keep their shape very narrow. The midfielders, aside from Arturo Vidal, do not join the attack or be efficient upfront. So, if the opponent closes down the middle, it is easier to contain the Barcelona attack.
Even so, versus Sevilla, Barcelona will have lots of spaces to attack, as Sevilla are not that effective in defence. Sevilla have to keep an eye on Messi as they are his most favourite victims. The Catalans are without Frenkie de Jong and Sergi Roberto due to injuries, and Samuel Umititi misses the game due to suspension. With Frenkie out, Barça may start Vidal to make runs into the box. Meanwhile, right-back Nélson Semedo will have to make use of the space left open by Messi when he drifts inside.
Last 5 games: DWDWD
Levante 1–1 Sevilla | La Liga
Sevilla 2–0 Real Betis | La Liga
Atlético de Madrid 2–2 Sevilla | La Liga
Sevilla 3–2 Osasuna | La Liga
Sevilla 0–0 CFR Cluj | Europa League
Position in La Liga
51 points in 29 games
14 wins, 9 draws, 6 losses
42 Goals Scored, 30 Goals Conceded
+12 Goal Difference
Last 5 games: WWWLD
Barcelona 2–0 Leganés | La Liga
Mallorca 0–4 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 1–0 Real Sociedad | La Liga
Real Madrid 2–0 Barcelona | La Liga
Napoli 1–1 Barcelona | Champions League
Position in La Liga
64 points in 29 games
20 wins, 4 draws and 5 losses
69 Goals Scored, 31 Goals Conceded
+38 Goal Difference
Last 5 meetings
Barcelona 4–0 Sevilla | 2019/20 La Liga
Sevilla 2–4 Barcelona | 2018/19 La Liga
Barcelona 6–1 Sevilla | 2018/19 Copa del Rey
Sevilla 2–0 Barcelona | 2018/19 Copa del Rey
Sevilla 1–2 Barcelona | 2018/19 La Liga
• Barcelona have scored at least 4 goals in their last 3 matches against Sevilla in all competitions
• The Catalans have won 7 of their last 8 matches in La Liga
• Sevilla are unbeaten in the league since February
• Lionel Messi is one goal shy of his 700th as a professional, including his goals with Barça and Argentina. Sevilla are his favourite victim, having scored 37 times against them
Team news and possible line-ups
Jesús Navas · Jules Koundé · Diego Carlos · Sergio Reguilón
Gudelj · Fernando · Óliver Torres
Lucas Ocampos · Luuk de Jong · Munir el Haddadi
Coach: Julen Lopetegui
Former Barcelona player Munir el Haddadi has been in great form and seems to have earned himself a spot in Sevilla’s starting XI | Photo by John Thys / AFP via Getty Images
Injured: Ousmane Dembélé ( hamstring ), Frenkie de Jong ( calf ), Roberto ( rib fracture )
Suspended: Samuel Umtiti
Semedo · Piqué · Lenglet · Jordi Alba
Arthur · Busquets · Vidal
Messi · Suárez · Braithwaite
Coach: Quique Setién
Two games into the restart, there is little room for complacency and rustiness. Both the teams will start their best elevens of the available players, and the contest will be very open. Still, with Barça’s form slightly being better than Sevilla at the moment, they might edge the home team. They have been successful against Sevilla in recent years in the league, and the trend might continue. The writer’s prediction: 1–3 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.