Following a boring, disappointing, boring, really really really boring draw in Greece against Olympiacos in midweek, Barcelona return to action on Saturday night with what promises to be one of the toughest tests of this young season for the Blaugrana.
Sevilla come to the Camp Nou for what is a historically tough fixture for the Catalan giants. Regardless of the coaches or players they have, the Rojiblancos always find a way to make every game really difficult for Barça, and this will be no different.
Sevilla have been totally transformed by the arrival of Eduardo Berizzo. The former Celta manager took the beautiful, high-flying, high-risk football that Sevilla played under Jorge Sampaoli and turned into a grind-it-out, score-few, concede-even-less team. They’ve been wildly inconsistent lately, but almost all matches have been really close and sometimes tough to watch.
They’re physical, they defend deep and hard, and they love counter-attacking goals. They also know how to press high when needed, so they will look to attack Barça and use their skill on the wings to try and hurt the Blaugrana defense.
For the Ernesto Valverde haters, this might be a perfect game: because of Sevilla’s style, we will probably see a slow, physical game without much flair. It won’t be Barça’s fault necessarily, but the fact we probably won’t see a very entertaining game will give those who criticize Valverde even more reason to question him.
This will be fun. But not.
MATCH INFO, TV/STREAMING
Date/Time: Saturday, November 4, 2017, 8:45pm local time, 7:45pm GMT (UK), 8:45pm (Nigeria), 3:45pm ET, 12:45pm PT (USA), 1:15am IST (India, Sunday)
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia
Television: beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), Sky Sports Football (UK), SuperSport 7 (Nigeria), SONY TEN 2 (India)
Online streaming: beIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA & Canada), Sky GO (UK), FuboTV (7-day free trial, click here to sign up)
(Listings via LiveSoccerTV)
When it rains, it pours, and the injuries are pouring in at Barça at the moment. Sergi Roberto and André Gomes are the latest to join the medical room, and they’ll be out for at least a month. The good news ahead of the Sevilla game is that Andrés Iniesta is back, and given his early season form it’s good to have his creativity back against what will probably be a tight Sevilla defense.
With the injury to Roberto, Nélson Semedo becomes the default right-back without a doubt. Aleix Vidal is also injured, so there’s no chance Valverde finds a way to bring him in place of Nelsion. Semedo will have an important run of games until Roberto’s return, and performing well against Sevilla will go a long way in cementing his spot as a starter.
In midfield, Ivan Rakitic and Paulinho will likely be the central midfielders in front of the amazing Sergio Busquets, with Iniesta unlikely to start and likely to be a weapon in the second half. Up front, the clone of Luis Suárez who has played in the beginning of this season will start alongside Lionel Messi (unless the real Luis Suárez wakes up from his hibernation and is ready to come back and score goals) and Gerard Deulofeu, who seems to be the first choice right winger at the moment, especially with Roberto and Gomes out. Denis Suarez also has a chance to play, but it’s a small one.
Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Paulinho; Deulofeu, Messi, Suárez
Rico; Corchia, Kjaer, Lenglet, Escudero; N’Zonzi, Pizarro; Sarabia, Banega, Nolito; Ben Yedder
This will be really tough and really hard to watch at times, but Barça have Messi and Messi loves to kill Sevilla: Messi 3, Sevilla 1.