Sevilla FC (2nd, 37pts) vs FC Barcelona (8th, 27pts)
Competition/Round: 2021-22 La Liga, Matchday 4 (rearranged)
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Ansu Fati, Pedri, Memphis Depay, Sergiño Dest, Martin Braithwaite, Sergi Roberto, Yusuf Demir, Dani Alves (out)
Sevilla Outs & Doubts: Erik Lamela, Gonzalo Montiel, Jesús Navas, Suso (out)
Date/Time: Tuesday, December 21, 2021, 9.30pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 8.30pm GMT (UK), 3.30pm ET, 12.30pm PT (USA), 2am IST (India, Wednesday)
Venue: Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, Seville, Spain
Referee: Carlos Del Cerro Grande
VAR: Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva
How to watch on TV: Not Available (USA), TSN 5 (Canada), LaLigaTV (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), MTV (India), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), others
How to watch online: ESPN+ (USA), LaLigaTV (UK), others
Following a hard-fought win against Elche at the weekend, Barcelona return to action for the final game of 2021 and it’s a big one as the Blaugrana travel to beautiful Andalusia to face Sevilla at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán.
Barça rebounded from a bad performance away to Osasuna to a mostly positive showing against Elche. Despite the 100-second collapse that saw them give away a two-goal lead, the Blaugrana were much better than their opponents for the entire match and deserved the three points.
Anyone expecting this current Barça team to steamroll everyone they face needs to rethink their expectations. Any evolution is good news, and we saw evolution on Saturday. Key players will eventually return from injury and the January transfer window could bring some important reinforcements, so there’s a chance Barça go into the holiday break with some positivity for the first time in a long time.
But they need to finish the job on Tuesday, and it won’t be easy at all. Sevilla have been brilliant all season in the league, deservedly sitting in second place with the best defense in the division and a brutally efficient style of play that doesn’t catch the eye but gets big results, like their win over defending champions Atlético Madrid at the weekend.
Julen Lopetegui continues to do a brilliant job coaching this team, and the Rojiblancos are absolutely the favorites against Barça. That doesn’t mean the Blaugrana have no shot, and if they can build on the good attacking football they played against Elche they could find a way to break Sevilla’s amazing defense.
Xavi called this game a “final” in his pre-match comments, and that feels true. This is a really big game that goes beyond Barça’s climb in the table if they manage to pick up points. It’s a measuring stick, a way to find out where they are in the La Liga pecking order ahead of what could be a huge January on and off the pitch.
The Pizjuán will be rocking with one of the best crowds in the country, and Barça must show personality to give themselves a real chance. This is a big one, and a win would be hugely encouraging.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Araujo, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Nico, Busquets, Gavi; Dembélé, Jutglà, Ez Abde
Sevilla (4-3-3): Bono; Koundé, Carlos, Rekik, Augustinsson; Jordán, Fernando, Rakitic; Ocampos, Mir, Gómez
Sevilla are in excellent form with a brilliant defense, and they really should be winning this one. Which is why I say... they will: 2-1 to the home team, but an encouraging performance from Barça.