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Barcelona facing crucial run starting with Sevilla

Barcelona v Sevilla - La Liga Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Barcelona return to La Liga action with a bang on Saturday as they head to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan to take on Sevilla.

Ernesto Valverde’s side remain unbeaten in La Liga after 29 games and are currently 11 points clear at the top. All of which means that Barcelona need 16 points from their remaining nine games to secure the title.

FC Barcelona v Chelsea FC - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Barcelona face four La Liga matches in April with home games against Leganes and Valencia and trips to Celta Vigo and Deportivo La Coruna.

Atletico Madrid are Barca’s nearest challengers and they take on Depor, Real Madrid, Levante, Sociedad, Betis and Alaves.

Diego Simeone’s side also take on Sporting in the Europa League and he has a pretty small squad to contend with as Yannick Carrasco, Nicolas Gaitan and Miguel Angel Moya departed in January and Filipe Luis has broken his leg.

Yet Barcelona also have the Champions League to think about. They welcome Roma to Camp Nou on Wednesday and head to the Italian capital for the return six days later.

AS Roma v Shakhtar Donetsk - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

There’s also the small matter of the Copa del Rey final against Sevilla on April 21 which means that Barca will play eight games in 30 days as they chase success on three fronts.

The packed schedule means that Valverde will need to rotate his squad and he will need to use players carefully with injuries starting to bite.

Lucas Digne is out for three weeks, Sergio Busquets is currently sidelined but hopefully back in time for Roma while Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Lionel Messi seemed to pick up knocks on international duty.

On the plus side both Nelson Semedo and Denis Suarez are back in training after injury problems and Gerard Pique seems to be able to play through an ongoing knee problem.

Malaga v Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

The trip to Sevilla will be a welcome return to action after the international break but it remains to be seen what kind of team Valverde will play.

Messi’s fitness is still a concern even though he’s been back in training on Thursday, while Ivan Rakitic and Luis Suarez could also be rested as they have had long trips to the US and China.

Sevilla have had a pretty madcap season, the highlight of which has been knocking Manchester United out of the Champions League and they may have one eye on Tuesday’s quarter-final visit from Bayern Munich.

Barca won 2-1 when the two sides met back in November and a similar result on Saturday would do very nicely indeed.

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