What: Spanish La Liga
Who: Sevilla vs Barcelona
When: Sunday 9th February, 2014, at 20:00 UK Time
Where: Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Seville, Spain

Desperate Need of a Win

Five points off the mark of the Europa League qualifying berths, Sevilla realise that nothing but a win against Barcelona will suffice in order to continue catching up with the teams in the upper echelon of the league table. Luckily for them, Barcelona suffered a loss last weekend in the league, and Los Rojiblancos will try to make it two successive domestic defeats in a row for the Blaugrana.

Despite failing to win any of the past six games against the league champions in all competitions – Sevilla’s last win over Gerardo Martino’s men goes back to the 2010 Spanish Super Cup where they triumphed 3-1 – Unai Emery still hopes that his men will face the strongest Barcelona side possible, with the Blaugrana falling in the last round against Valencia at the Camp Nou. 

“We expect the best from the opposing team… FC Barcelona are one of the best teams in the world and is a challenge for us, a pride and a pleasure to play against them. It is a very nice game that draws our attention to us and the fans”, declared the Sevilla manager.  

Indeed, despite losing the last time the two met at the Camp Nou, only a last-minute effort from Alexis Sanchez ensured the spoils went Barcelona’s way. Fans will also be hoping for more of the same on behalf of their players.

Regaining League Supremacy

February got off to the wrong start for Barcelona, losing against Valencia in inexplicable fashion at the Camp Nou. This allowed Real Madrid to catch them in second place and even worse, entitled Atletico Madrid to go three points clear on top of the league table. Realising that their season is taking a more serious direction now with the Champions League set to continue, Los Cules know that a win versus their Andalucian hosts is crucial for them to get back on the saddle. It would also close the gap to Atletico Madrid, who lost to Almeria yesterday.

Barcelona got rid of their shaky form on the road and recorded three high profile wins recently away from the Camp Nou against Celta Vigo, Real Betis and Getafe. However, Pedro still believes that his side will be facing a stern team on Sunday night. 

“This game is of utmost importance. We have a lot to play for. There is very little margin for error between now and the end of the season, we practically can’t afford to make any mistakes. Sevilla made it very difficult for us [when we met earlier this season]. They are having a great season”, said the Spain winger.
With Javier Mascherano and Jordi Alba missing in defence, Marc Bartra should get the nod if Carles Puyol is not deemed fit, while Adriano should fill Jordi Alba’s void on the left flank.

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Recent form

Atletico Madrid 1-1 Sevilla (19/01; La Liga)
Sevilla 2-3 Levante (25/01; La Liga)
Malaga 3-2 Sevilla (01/02; La Liga)

Barcelona 5-1 Levante (29/01; Copa del Rey)
Barcelona 2-3 Valencia (01/02; La Liga)
Barcelona 2-0 Real Sociedad (05/02; Copa del Rey)

Key absences

Sevilla: Stephane M’Bia; Cicinho; Coke (suspended)

Barcelona: Neymar; Jonathan dos Santos; Javier Mascherano (suspended); Jordi Alba (suspended)

Players to watch

Sevilla – Carlos Bacca: The Colombian striker has ten goals and five assists to his name this season since the joining the club last summer. Against Barcelona in front of his own fans, a goal or two will certainly aid his team’s bid to conquer the Blaugrana.

Barcelona – Alexis Sanchez: With thirteen league goals to his name this season, the Chilean is enjoying his best term as a Barcelona man, and seems at ease under fellow South American Martino. Realising that Lionel Messi is not at his best, this gives him extra importance going into this match.

Match Prediction

Sevilla will want to remember the earlier encounter that pitted the two sides together back in September, but Los Rojiblancos have only managed a single point in their last three league games. With a chance to close the gap on Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid though, and draw level on points at the top, Barcelona will do the business.

Betting on Sevilla v Barcelona? Make sure you read our betting preview first!

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