FC Barcelona (3rd, 17pts) vs Sevilla FC (12th, 7pts)*
*Points and positions at the time of writing on Thursday
Competition/Round: 2023-24 La Liga, Matchday 8
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Frenkie de Jong, Pedri (out)
Sevilla Outs & Doubts: Youssef En-Nesyri, Marcão (out)
Date/Time: Friday, September 29, 2023, 9pm CET (Barcelona), 8pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 3pm ET, 12pm PT (USA), 12.30am IST (India, Saturday)
Venue: Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, Montjuïc, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Referee: Miguel Ángel Ortiz Arias
VAR: Valentín Pizarro Gómez
How to watch on TV: ESPN Deportes (USA), SuperSport (Nigeria), Sports18 (India), Viaplay Sports 1 (UK), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), TSN 2 (Canada), others
Following a disappointing draw away from home against Mallorca to knock them off top spot in the La Liga table, Barcelona continue a busy stretch of games with a big one at home as they welcome Sevilla to the Montjuïc Olympic Stadium on Friday Night Fútbol.
Friday night kickoffs are very unusual for Barça but the Blaugrana have been given an extra day by the league to prepare for their massive Champions League match away to FC Porto next week, which is something La Liga haven’t done much lately but is common practice around Europe.
But this also means Barça have had very little time to recover from a very tough midweek clash away to Mallorca, and after that disappointing result they have to quickly pivot to what promises to be an even tougher test against the team from Seville.
Even though their season started with three straight losses and a painful UEFA Super Cup defeat on penalties, Sevilla found themselves after the international break and are unbeaten in September, with a 5-1 in at home over Almería in midweek a massive boost in confidence ahead of the trip to Catalonia.
Coach José Luis Mendilibar has brought stability to the dressing room and his usual brand of tough, competitive football to a team that has always been full of talent but forgot how to fight. Now they’ve got physicality back in their ranks, and can be a very dangerous side when their top players are at their best.
They won’t park the bus at Montjuïc, and even without their best striker in Youssef En-Nesyri who is missing this one through injury they will look to stay organized at the back but press high and take the game to Barça when the opportunities present themselves. The Blaugrana’s defense is nowhere near as strong as last season and Barça have already conceded eight league goals in just seven games after allowing just 20 in all of 2022-23.
Xavi Hernández is more committed to attacking this season with more numbers in forward areas and a very aggressive pressing style, which is leaving the center-backs vulnerable to teams who can counter well. Sevilla are one of those teams, and will cause problems if the Catalans aren’t sharp without the ball.
This one promises to be physical and full of chances for both sides, and the most efficient team in front of goal will leave with three points. Don’t be shocked with an upset here: Sevilla are tough, talented and in good form, and Barça don’t inspire much confidence at the back right now even though they’ve looked very strong on the ball this season.
This should be fun. And also nail-biting.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Christensen, Balde; Gündogan, Romeu, Gavi; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Félix
Sevilla (4-2-3-1): Nyland; Navas, Badé, Ramos, Pedrosa; Sow, Fernando; Suso, Rakitic, Lukébakio; Rafa Mir
Barça’s defense is more vulnerable this season but their attack is playing at a higher level, and against a Sevilla side that won’t sit back and concede space I’m couting on the good guys to put on a strong showing in attack and win a fun game at home: 4-2 Barça.