What: Spanish La Liga
Who: Barcelona vs Sevilla
When: Saturday 22nd October, 2011, at 21:00 UK time
Where: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain

Golden Chance

As the two-horse race between Barcelona and Real Madrid does not look like ending any time soon, the Blaugrana have the chance to increase the one-point gap between themselves and their eternal rivals should Los Blancos draw or lose minutes before this match. However, Josep Guardiola knows his side’s task will not be easy, as they themselves are pitted against Sevilla.

Barcelona’s midweek Champions League win over Viktoria Plzen earned the team their seventh point so far in the group. However, the 2-0 scoreline was not an indication of what happened on the night, with Guardiola’s team missing several chances throughout the occasion, a fact that was highlighted by midfielder Javier Mascherano after the match: “This is a false result. I think we deserved more goals because we had the chances and game-play. They could not even shoot on goal”, blasted the former Liverpool man.

While the win was never really in doubt, missed chances could have cost the Champions League holders dear had the Czechs been more capable, and Barcelona will have to be sharper against Sevilla. Even with Alvaro Negredo likely to sit this one out, Los Rojiblancos remain as dangerous as ever.

More Than Football

Meetings between these two sides rarely fail to thrill and with Sevilla just two points off Barcelona prior to kick-off, the Andalucians have a chance of eliminating the gap. That remains easier said than done though, given the fact that the match takes place at Barcelona’s daunting Camp Nou stadium.

However, teams have won at the Cules stomping ground before and Sevilla have a legitimate chance of claiming something should they play their cards right.

News from the Andalucian camp has taken on a rather political aspect in recent days, after Artur Mas, president of the Catalonia “Generalitat”, made controversial comments about the Andalucian people. This prompted the Sevilla hierarchy to produce new shirts with “Orgullosos de Andalucia” – Spanish for “Pride of Andalucia” – printed on the front. Even though Mas later on apologised for his remarks, Los Rojiblancos will nonetheless sport their new kit when they prepare to grace the Camp Nou turf.

Against the league leaders, the 2007 UEFA Cup winners will have a hard time perforating the Catalan defence in the wake of Alvaro Negredo’s absence from this match. The former Almeria striker was unable to beat the clock in order to be fit for this one and his team will likely miss his presence upfront.

Recent form

Sporting Gijon 0-1 Barcelona
(02/10; La Liga)
Barcelona 3-0 Racing Santander (15/10; La Liga)
Barcelona 2-0 Viktoria Plzen
(19/10; Champions League)

Sevilla 1-0 Valencia (25/09; La Liga)
Atletico Madrid 0-0 Sevilla
(02/10; La Liga)
Sevilla 2-1 Sporting Gijon (16/10; La Liga)

Key absences

Barcelona: Ibrahim Afellay; Gerard Pique

Diego Perotti; Emir Spahic (suspended); Alvaro Negredo

Players to watch

Barcelona – Andres Iniesta: With the Xavi-Lionel Messi relationship ever flourishing and the arrival of Cesc Fabregas at the club, Iniesta faded into the shadows just a little. However, the midfielder was everywhere against Viktoria Plzen as he opened the scoring and looked ready whenever called upon. A truly brilliant football mind will once again be at work for this one.

Sevilla – Frederic Kanoute: One of La Liga’s best players in recent campaigns, the 34-year-old is expected to lead the line in Negredo’s absence. At his age, it will be interesting to see if the Mali man still has what it takes against a team of Barcelona’s magnitude.

Match Prediction

Barcelona know that they cannot afford to slip up at this stage, especially with Real Madrid right on their tail. Luckily for the Catalans, their luck never seems to run out, and they will be expected to rule the roost once again here. Guardiola’s men might encounter some early difficulties, but that will not stop them from ending the match on a high. Barcelona 3-0 Sevilla.

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