It's February and this is already the second Barcelona v Sevilla in 2021 we are going to witness this Saturday. This La Liga clash would be a turning point in the league as it can potentially make or break Barca's second trophyless season. Only 2 points currently separate the two teams. Will Sevilla run all over Koeman's squad and destroy all hopes for them to clinch a title? Or will Barcelona conjure something to keep their hopes alive?
The La Liga trophy
The current La Liga season is strange in many ways. Both Spanish giants, Real Madrid and Barcelona have been struggling since the start of the season.
Defending champions Real are 5 points clear of Barcelona with one game played an extra. At the start of the season, Atletico played extremely well winning continuously as opposed to its two main rivals. They won away and home with good margins. It seemed that both the Spanish giants had no chance to win the league this time.
In January, Atletico was potentially 14 points clear on the top of the table. Pundits and coaches admitted that it was Atletico's season. With the fluidity with which they were playing, they never seemed to be uncomfortable and crunched out wins from nowhere. However, all of a sudden, they started dropping points that could have been secured easily. They have dropped 7 points in the last 5 matches. This brings Atletico down to a meager 3 point lead with a game in hand. Hope has reignited in the camps of Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Sevilla, on the other hand, has been playing as they usually do. They are 4th on the table which is good considering their history and the players. They, however, can topple Barcelona if they win the game on Saturday. Considering the sloppiness that both clubs of Madrid have shown recently, they can even be a strong contender for the title.
Memories dwelling back from the Copa Del Rey
Just a week ago, Sevilla beat Barcelona 2-0 at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium. It was the Copa Del Rey semifinal 1st leg. Although the game isn't done and dusted, Sevilla can relax a bit given the current form of Barcelona.
Knowing their defensive plotholes, Sevilla can now plan their moves accordingly and beat them once again within a couple of weeks. The current score might just give Sevilla the chance to win a trophy since the Cup is easier as compared to the league and the Champions League.
Barcelona, meanwhile, would want to conjure another remontada to make it to the final. They can draw inspiration from the fact that even though Sevilla scored 2 goals, they didn't dominate the game at all. The goals came due to some horrible defensive errors from the team. The blaugranas will want to forget that and try to tackle each game one by one.
The last time Barca was 2 goals down at the Ramon Sanchez stadium, they scored 6 goals back at the Camp Nou and won the tie against Sevilla. They will want to have the same kind of confidence they had back in those days. However, they should not forget that they are playing the league on Saturday which means they have to secure the 3 points anyhow to keep the title race alive.
Sevilla is a side that no one wants to take lightly. Barcelona, with their horrible form, will definitely not. They will certainly field their strongest eleven. Pedri, De Jong, and Busquets will take the center stage while Messi along with Griezmann and Dembele should lead the attack. Unless Koeman has a different plan in mind, he will rely on his squad to take the win.
Pedri has delighted every fan of the red and blue army with his beautiful ability on the ball. He has been gelling with Messi quite well and that helps the team overall. As for Messi, all of Barcelona just prays that he is in the mood on every match day. When Messi is in the groove, it really doesn't matter who the opposition is. He gets the 3 points.
Sevilla will definitely have to go with an attacking mindset since they cannot afford to park the bus against Barcelona. They are currently the only team in La Liga who have won their last 5 games. They won against Osasuna 2-0 on the last matchday and moved above Barcelona in the table.
This shows that they will not lie down or allow Barcelona to dominate the game. En-Nesyri is on fire this season scoring 13 goals already and is the main threat for Sevilla. The numbers for the other players might not be that high but they play as a team which proves to be essential to their success.
Who has the upper hand in Barcelona v Sevilla?
Barcelona generally always is the superior team. However, in recent games, Sevilla has shown that they can be a significant rival. They thumped the Blaugranas 2-0 in the Cup and also drew against them at the start of the league. With the hotchpotch defense that Barcelona possess, Sevilla might find it easier to score goals. They have fast legs upfront which makes it very difficult for Pique, Umtiti, or Lenglet to mark them.
Having said that Barcelona has a reincarnated midfield with raw talent and three experienced forwards upfront. That should be enough to take them over the line as it has been for most of the league. They have to score more than they concede. That should do the trick. So, in terms of the whole squad, Barcelona does have the upper hand.
Predictions for Barcelona v Sevilla
Considering all aspects, Barcelona might win the game by a margin of 2-1. They desperately need to win every league game now if they hope to catch up. That should be enough motivation for them to give their all and bring home the 3 points. Sevilla will provide a tough fight but the amount of talent in Barcelona's eleven shall make the difference.