Preview: Sevilla vs Barcelona, One last shot at the title for both these teams
Sevilla and Barcelona will be looking to keep their La Liga title hopes alive when they face off on Saturday.
One of the standout fixtures in the La Liga calendar will take place at Estadio Ramon on Saturday afternoon as Sevilla welcome Barcelona for what should be a fascinating affair.
Sevilla are in fourth place in the La Liga standings at the moment and are surprisingly in with an outside chance of winning the title race. The Andalusians have become a potent force under Julen Lopetegui and eased past Osasuna by a 2-0 margin over the weekend.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 25, 2021
Barcelona, on the other hand, have been fairly inconsistent in recent weeks and cannot afford to drop points this weekend. The Catalan giants returned to winning ways against Elche during the week and will need to be at their best against a strong Sevilla side.
There are only two points between the two sides in the table ahead of this weekend’s contest, with Barcelona currently occupying third position, while Sevilla are fourth, comfortably clear of fifth-placed Real Sociedad.
Julen Lopetegui’s reputation took a hit following his spell at Real Madrid in 2018 but he has built it back up with this Sevilla team who are still in with a chance of winning La Liga.
They are just seven points behind leaders Atletico Madrid thanks to an excellent run of form, winning 10 of their last 11 games across all competitions; including six in La Liga.
Sevilla’s only defeat during that run came in the Champions League against Borussia Dortmund, but even then they left themselves with a chance of coming back in the second leg.
Sevilla now face back-to-back games with Barcelona as they will also take on Ronald Koeman’s side in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final next week, holding a 2-0 advantage from the first leg at Estadio Ramon.
Like Sevilla, the Catalan giants are facing Champions League elimination, having lost 4-1 at home to Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their last-16 tie, while, as mentioned, they have work to do in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final, which should be a fascinating contest at Camp Nou.
Koeman’s side are currently third, two points behind second-placed Real Madrid, while they are only five points off leaders Atletico Madrid, suggesting that a title challenge is not impossible at this stage.
Marcos Acuna and Lucas Ocampos are currently injured and have been ruled out of this fixture. Former Barcelona midfield Ivan Rakitic has played an important role for Sevilla this season and is likely to start this game.
Sevilla possible starting lineup: Bounou; Navas, Kounde, Carlos, Rekik; Jordan, Fernando, Rakitic; Suso, En-Nesyri, Munir
Ronald Araujo has been Barcelona’s best defender this season but might not be able to recover in time for this game. Philippe Coutinho, Ansu Fati, and Sergi Roberto are recuperating from long-term injuries and will also have to sit out of this fixture.
Barcelona possible starting lineup: Ter Stegen; Dest, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; De Jong, Busquets, Pedri; Griezmann, Messi, Dembele
A starter in recent weeks, Munir El Haddadi has found form at the right time, ready to add to his former club’s misery. The Spaniard joined Barcelona in 2011 as a 15-year-old but played just 56 times for the club before being sold to Sevilla two years ago.
He has already made 81 appearances for Sevilla, but this season Munir has had to made do with a more reserved role until recently, scoring two goals and recording one assist in his past three league matches.
Lionel Messi once again leads at Barcelona but they cannot keep relying on the Argentinian and instead need the likes of Antoine Griezmann to step up. The Frenchman is second to Messi at Barcelona for direct goal involvements with 12 so far in La Liga and leads the club for assists with six.
But Barcelona will want more from Griezmann, in particular an improvement on the six goals he has scored, 12 fewer than Messi despite being the club’s second highest scorer.
Sevilla have been exceptional in La Liga this season and their six-game unbeaten streak in the league has seen only one goal conceded by the Andalusians. Barcelona failed to breach Julen Lopetegui’s defence in the Copa del Rey and will need to take it up a notch in this match.
The last two league matches between these two teams have finished level, and might end up the same way once again. Sevilla were excellent against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey earlier this month, and they should once again get the better of the Catalans.
Lionel Messi had an excellent game against Elche and the Catalans will have to rely on their talisman yet again this season. Both teams are on an even footing at the moment but Sevilla look like they have what it takes to edge past this shaky Barcelona. FootTheBall says, Sevilla 2-1 Barcelona