After a draw on Matchday 1 against Getafe, Barcelona got their momentum running with six straight wins across all competitions. As the calendar progressed, the wins only got more interesting.
The roadblock finally did arrive, however, in the form of Mallorca. Faced against Javier Aguirre’s men this midweek, the Catalans dropped two points and were lucky to not lose all three.
With the UEFA Champions League returning next week, Barcelona must get back to winning ways against Sevilla later today. After all, two straight losses will not sit well with the manager or the players.
Barça Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Barcelona vs. Sevilla.
A big chance to regain control
Barcelona’s narrow draw to Mallorca at Son Moix threw away their table-top position that the Blaugranas had only just earned. After all, it had not been more than 48 hours since they assumed the numero uno position.
Yet, wins for both Real Madrid and Girona meant that the two leapfrogged Barcelona in the standings.
As it stands, the Catalans stand on 17 points from seven games with five wins and two draws. Real Madrid sit above Barcelona, in second place, with 18 points in as many games.
Surprisingly, Girona are the current leaders in La Liga with 19 points in seven games. Michel’s men have won six and drawn just one of their matches so far and deservedly own the bragging rights.
Matchday 8 will be critical from the standings standpoint. Real Madrid and Girona face off against each other at Estadi Montilivi in a clash between the table-toppers. Thus, either one or both of the sides will drop points.
Barcelona must thus strike when the iron is hot and capitalise on their chance. A win against Sevilla will put them in provisional first place and will guarantee them at least the second position heading into the next game.
Time to step up defensively
Barcelona boasted one of Europe’s finest defensive records last season in La Liga. Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s imperious form in goal coupled with the chemistry between Jules Kounde, Ronald Araujo, Andreas Christensen, and Alejandro Balde made the Azulgranas impenetrable.
In 38 league games last season, Barcelona conceded just eight goals with an average of just over 0.5 goals conceded per game. This season, they have already conceded eight goals in just seven games.
Even Xavi Hernandez stressed the need to improve defensively in his press conference ahead of the Sevilla clash, for it is currently Barcelona’s Achilles heel.
Ronald Araujo’s return from injury implies that the Uruguayan could start alongside Jules Kounde tomorrow in Barcelona’s strongest theoretical central defence.
Joao Cancelo and Alejandro Balde could start as the full-backs, and both must be wary on the night. After all, oppositions have targeted the spaces behind the advanced full-backs in recent games to create vicious counterattacks.
An equal share of the limelight will be on Ter Stegen. The German shot-stopper started the 2023-24 campaign in high spirits and good form but has a horror show against Mallorca midweek. It remains to be seen how the goalkeeper bounces back from his blushes.
The fatigue factor
While it is fairly simple to sit in a remote location and talk of rotations and tactics, there is a human aspect to football that must be understood.
The hectic schedule across competitions has Europe’s top clubs playing week in and week out with little to no rest. Barcelona’s fixture list is no different.
Xavi Hernnadez’s men are now entering their fifth game in 14 days. Rotations are indeed essential and go a long way in controlling the damage. However, it is clear that fatigue will play a big role in tonight’s game.
The Catalan stars looked leggy for a long part of the Mallorca game midweek, and one can expect more of the same against Sevilla.
Under such circumstances, the key will be a tight defence and a clinical attack to put away the few chances created.
Staying under the same umbrella, the manager will also continue to wield rotations at Montjuic with the likes of Lewandowski, Kounde, and Lamine Yamal possibly re-entering the starting lineup. Reports claim that young Fermin Lopez could make his first start for the first team as well.