Sevilla had a very promising transfer window where they bought in more than 10 players and revamped the whole squad. Julen Lopetegui was hired and since then, he has done okay but can do more, considering the heavy investment in the squad. They now face a Barcelona side in good form after winning three consecutive fixtures including the thriller against Inter Milan earlier this week. Let’s look at Sevilla’s season so far in numbers and figure out their strengths and weaknesses.
Sevilla average an impressive 14 shots per game but what’s more noticeable is where those shots are coming from. A massive nine are from the penalty area, the highest total in the league. This also means Sevilla are likely to score from inside the box and will make every attempt to flood the penalty area. Barcelona are set to play with a makeshift defence due to injuries and Clement Lenglet’s suspension so it will be interesting to see how they stop players from entering their box.
Usage of long balls
Sevilla extensively use long balls as part of their build-up. They have recorded a mammoth 73 long balls per game (compared to Barcelona’s 54) and are also adept at winning aerial duels. Lopetegui’s side also attempt more than three long key passes per game, the highest in the league. This clearly shows the team’s reliance on long balls to get the job done, and it will be important for Barcelona to press their players to nullify their build-up.
Sevilla’s skill at aerial duels means they are good at scoring and defending set-piece situations. Three of their 10 goals scored this season have come from set pieces. Barcelona must try to avoid conceding corners and fouls around the box, as Sevilla will provide a real threat from dead-ball situations.
Sevilla have difficulties scoring from open play and average 2.6 offsides per game. Players like Luuk de Jong and Chicharito are regularly caught offside, with the former yet to score for the team. This is an apparent weakness that Gerard Pique and Co can take advantage of.
Defending crosses and through balls
Sevilla struggle to defend crosses and through balls and have recorded stats of 0.6 crosses blocked per game and 2 through balls faced per game, both the least and lowest in the league so far. For the likes of Messi, Griezmann and Suarez, this is a golden chance to get in sync now that the captain is back from injury and ready to torment the Andalusian defense.
Sevilla’s narrow win against Real Sociedad, their draw against Celta Vigo and defeat against Eibar have shown that they are extremely vulnerable at protecting leads. They have conceded vital goals after the 80th minute in these fixtures which indicate they become shaky late on. Barcelona can make the most of this by hitting them on the counter, particularly with pacy players such as Ousmane Dembele and Ansu Fati fit again and back in the squad.