Sevilla vs. Barcelona: Complete La Liga Preview, Analysis and Prediction

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Sevilla vs. Barcelona: Complete La Liga Preview, Analysis and Prediction
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Four points are all that separate Sevilla from Barcelona atop the La Liga tables right now.

If Los Rojiblancos can beat the Catalans this Saturday, they will potentially move just one point off first place—depending on other results.

When these two squared off at Camp Nou last season, an inspiring performance from Javi Varas saw Sevilla take a point from Pep Guardiola's men as he held Lionel Messi & Co. to a nil-nil draw.

Now, the Sevillistas have an even better keeper between the posts after they bought Diego Lopez from Villarreal this summer.

 

Current Form

When looking at recent results from both teams, this one is set up to be a blockbuster. We might be in for a "match of the season" candidate if both sides are near their best.

Barcelona are coming off two last-minute victories in Spain and Europe.

A late pair of goals from Messi saw La Blaugrana overcome Spartak Moscow in Group G of the Champions League while Xavi was the hero against a very tough Granada team.

Sevilla will be flying even higher after their last two victories.

Cicinho inspired the Andalusians to a close two-goal win over Deportivo that almost ended in a draw until Negredo finally put one in just 15 minutes from time.

Just one week prior, Jose Maria del Nido led his team over the reigning champions of Spain as they held Real Madrid goalless.

 

Tactical Preview

For true fans of technical, attacking Spanish football, this matchup is almost as good as it gets.

In Barcelona and Sevilla, we've got two bold sides who love to dominate attack and press in midfield.

La Blaugrana are long-time proponents of the 4-3-3 and Los Nervionenses have done an incredible job converting to it themselves this season.

The talent on display in the middle of the pitch will be a joy to watch. The level of passing and technical skill on both teams is the kind of stuff that La Liga fans take notes for.

Can Barcelona stop Jesus Navas?

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Sevilla will give possession to Barcelona, but will not be afraid to open themselves up by pressing the midfield and attacking every time they get on the ball.

This could hurt them if Barça exploit the space created there, or it could help them if an early goal is scored on the visitors.

 

Key Matchups

Whether it's Jordi Alba or Adriano who starts at left back, they are going to have a very hard time containing the best winger in La Liga—Jesus Navas.

Two weeks ago La Perla embarrassed Marcelo and Sergio Ramos as he bullied the pairing for 90 minutes in Sevilla.

Even with Alba playing, there is no one currently usable on Tito Vilanova's squad who are as good as the Ramos-Marcelo pairing.

This means that a lot of help will be needed from the midfield if Barcelona are going to do a better job than Real Madrid at shutting Sevilla's winger down.

Limiting Navas' time on the ball will be key. If they can limit him to streaky breakaways down the flank without assistance from his teammates and keep him wide enough to minimize damage from crosses, he can be neutralized.

 

Preview

Like I said above, this is a mouth-watering contest on paper.

Barcelona defense has been very weak against counterattacks and speedy wingers as well as crosses and set pieces.

There are few teams more capable of exploiting all of those weaknesses than Sevilla.

What's your prediction?

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The boldness we are likely to see from the Andalusians will make for some exciting football, but could be a detriment to the team in the end.

If they are not careful on the ball, an early goal from Barcelona could open the floodgates, especially as Los Rojiblancos tire later on.

While an upset is certainly possible and not unlikely in this one, I expect Barça's midfield to get enough time on the ball to give Sevilla very few chances at breaking away on goal.

A close win for Barcelona without a clean sheet is my prediction.

 

Check out my live coverage of the match here.

 

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