Barcelona will be aiming to ascend in the La Liga table when they lock horns with fellow top-four contenders, Sevilla, this weekend.
It will be third vs fourth in the 2020/21 La Liga on Saturday afternoon as Barcelona travel to Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan to take on Sevilla hoping to close the gap to the top of the table.
Barcelona endured a disappointing result last weekend when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Cadiz. However, Ronald Koeman’s side bounced back in style, beating relegation battlers Elche 3-0 earlier in the week, moving to third place in the process, five points below Atletico Madrid. With the league leaders facing a tricky away fixture against Villarreal, the Catalans will be hoping to move closer with a win.
Sevilla, meanwhile, are just a couple of points and a place below Barcelona in La Liga, with a game in hand. Julen Lopetegui’s men have won ten of their last eleven games in all competitions, with the only loss coming in the UEFA Champions League against Borussia Dortmund. Having beaten Osasuna 2-0 in their last league game, the Nervionenses will have an eye on the third spot in the table.
The reverse fixture played at Camp Nou ended in a 1-1 draw. More recently though, Sevilla beat Barcelona 2-0 in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final tie at home. And ahead of their latest meeting on Saturday afternoon, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
— Sevilla FC (@SevillaFC_ENG) February 26, 2021
Sevilla will once again be without the services of Marcos Acuna as well as Lucas Ocampos, who has recently been linked with Premier League champions, Liverpool. There is some good news though as Suso has trained with the team and is in contention to make the squad.
Los Nervionenses will set up in their preferred 4-3-3 formation with Bono lining up between the sticks where he could in for a busy day. Jules Kounde and Diego Carlos will form the central defensive pairing for Sevilla, hoping to keep the magnificent Lionel Messi quiet. Jesus Navas and Sergio Escudero ought to be the two full-backs who will look to make overlapping forward runs regularly.
Fernando will be the man holding the fort in the centre of the park with support coming from former Barcelona man Ivan Rakitic and Joan Jordan. They will have to keep an eye on the driving runs of the likes of Barcelona counterparts Pedri and Frenkie de Jong while Rakitic’s ability to play piercing passes forward will also play a key role.
Suso, if he passes fit, should start out on the right flank while January signing Alejandro Gomez ought to get the nod on the left. The duo will look to veer in centrally and play close to in-form striker Youssef En-Nesyri.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Bono; Navas, Kounde, Carlos, Escudero; Rakitic, Fernando, Jordan; Suso, En-Nesyri, Gomez
Barcelona continue to be without rising star Ansu Fati while Sergi Roberto and Philippe Coutinho also remain unavailable for Ronald Koeman. But they have been handed a boost ahead of the trip to Sevilla as Ronald Araujo has been passed fit but he could be held back for the Copa del Rey semi-final second leg next week.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 26, 2021
Marc-Andre ter Stegen is the undisputed starter in goal for the Blaugrana. Gerard Pique has been an ever-present in defence since returning from injury and that is unlikely to change at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Samuel Umtiti started in the last game against Elche and is likely to be retained after Clement Lenglet’s mistake in the draw against Cadiz. At right-back, Sergino Dest is in line to start replacing Oscar Mingueza given as he offers a bit more in the attacking sense while there is no looking past Jordi Alba on the left side of the back four.
Sergio Busquets ought to anchor the midfield for Barcelona with his midfield partners, Pedri and Frenkie de Jong will be in charge of providing the forward thrust and creativity from the centre of the park.
Martin Braithwaite had a positive game against Elche last time out but is likely to make way for Antoine Griezmann on Saturday. The Frenchman ought to slot in on the left flank but move into central positions when captain Lionel Messi drops a little deeper to get on the ball. Ousmane Dembele should edge out Francisco Trincao on the right-wing and cause problems with his direct running.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Dest, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; de Jong. Busquets, Pedri; Dembele, Messi, Griezmann
- Sevilla have won their last six matches. They have kept a clean sheet in their last five league matches.
- Barcelona have won their last six away matches in La Liga.
- Having held Barcelona to a draw in the reverse fixture, Sevilla will be hoping to avoid defeat in both league games of a season against the Catalans for the first time since 2002/03.
- Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman is winless in his three managerial games against Sevilla in all competitions (D1 L2).
- With 10 strikes, Sevilla striker Youssef En Nesyri is one of the three players to have netted ten or more goals at their home stadiums in La Liga this season apart from Barcelona captain Lionel Messi (12) and Atletico Madrid superstar Luis Suarez (10).
Player to Watch
Most goals in Europe's top five leagues this year:
Lionel Messi – 13
Robert Lewandowski – 12
Erling Haaland – 10
Not bad for somebody who is 'not at his best' ?☕️ pic.twitter.com/Hi6hHxawAr
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 26, 2021
The Barcelona skipper put in a sublime display in midweek against Elche, leading Barcelona to an important win and manager Ronald Koeman will be hoping that he continues from where he left off this weekend. Lionel Messi has had a fine start to the new year and has scored the most number of goals by any player in Europe’s top five leagues since the start of 2021 (13).
In addition to that, the 33-year-old enjoys a brilliant record against Sevilla, having scored 29 La Liga goals against them – more than he has managed versus any other opponent. However, having failed to find the back of the net in his last two league outings, Messi will be looking to address that come Saturday.
Sevilla 2-1 Barcelona
Barcelona come into the game on the back of an impressive win against Elche but Sevilla will pose a huge challenge, considering that the form they have been in of late, Indeed, Julen Lopetegui’s men have won their last six league outings and have hardly let in any goals, enjoying the joint-best defensive record in La Liga.
Furthermore, Sevilla defeated Barcelona in an impressive manner not very long ago in the Copa del Rey. And even though Lionel Messi has been in good form, it might not be good enough for the Catalans to walk away with a win. The Hard Tackle is predicting a narrow win for the hosts, which should put them above Ronald Koeman’s men in the La Liga standings.