FC Barcelona News: The Sevilla Players Barca Need to Be Wary of

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FC Barcelona News: The Sevilla Players Barca Need to Be Wary of
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images
Rakitic will need to be at his very best at the Camp Nou

This Saturday evening, La Liga table-toppers Barcelona host Sevilla. Although this seems to be a straight-forward encounter on paper, the Catalans ought to be wary of their Andalusian opponents.

Last season, title-winners Barcelona were the recipients of six points against Los Nervionenses.

Both wins were narrow victories, as the Catalans triumphed 2-1 during the corresponding fixture and 3-2 at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium.

Sevilla’s slow start to the 2013/14 campaign (a defeat and two draws) is hardly surprising considering the lucrative exits of Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas (both to Manchester City) and Geoffrey Kondogbia (Monaco) during the summer.

Just over one-third of the €90 million received (sourced from Transfermarkt.com) has been re-invested in the Andalusian capital, predominantly replenishing the diminished firepower and flair lost during the summer months.

With Lionel Messi and Neymar expected to start their first match together at the Camp Nou, the pressure will be on Barcelona to perform—with the danger being that Sevilla could be on the receiving end of a footballing lesson.

However, if the Catalans see this fixture as a walk-over, they could be in for a nasty surprise.

Taking that into consideration, Barca should be wary of the following players:

(Statistical playing data has been sourced from Squawka.com)

Frederico Fazio

Frederico Fazio has been Sevilla’s best performing defender so far in this campaign with 18 clearances and four interceptions in his side's opening two La Liga games.

If fit, the Argentine will have to be at his very best to keep compatriot Lionel Messi quiet in, what is expected to be, a busy evening for the 26-year-old.

Diego Perotti

Fazio’s fellow Argentine, Diego Perotti, has started positively this season in the middle of the park.

Record of Perotti's impressive duel statistics so far this campaign

Despite Sevilla yet to register that long awaited first win of the season, their number 10 has thus far scored once and created four key chances, in addition to winning 68 percent of his duels compared to 51 percent during the previous La Liga campaign.

Furthermore, Perotti is also a threat going towards goal since his shooting accuracy has increased from 33 percent to 75 percent. His teammates will hope his recent good form continues at the Camp Nou.

Ivan Rakitic

Having provided five assists already this season, Barca's new coach Gerardo Martino, would be wise to not overlook Rakitic. The 25-year-old attacking midfielder returned from midweek international duty with Croatia as a man in form.

Rakitic dictating the play for Sevilla against Malaga

Sevilla’s chief playmaker performed admirably last season with 16 assists and 12 goals in 52 games (La Liga, Copa Del Rey and Europa League matches).

In his last La Liga outing against Malaga, Rakitic completed 89 percent of his passes, as per the above analytics.

This data also demonstrates that Sevilla possibly planned to expose the space in between the fullbacks and centre-backs, with Rakitic successfully threading diagonal passes from the centre of pitch to his wide attackers on numerous occasions.

Rakitic predominantly shielding his back four

That said, Sevilla operate differently away from home and revert to a 4-5-1 formation. As per the above heat map when visiting Levante, Rakitic's behaviour was more conservative with his primary duty to shield his back four.

Any tinkering with tactics at the Camp Nou would be surprise, but when Sevilla are in possession, his ability should not to be underestimated.

Kevin Gameiro

Signed from Paris Saint-Germain during the summer, the French international scored two goals last weekend, as Sevilla drew with Malaga 2-2 in a Andalusian derby.

Given the Catalans have returned to their successful pressing and high-tempo game, Gameiro is likely to become his side's focal point in retaining possession during the rare opportunities when he has the ball.

Gameiro's hold up play was evident against Malaga

As this analytical slide shows, Gameiro displays a proven ability to hold up the ball and retain possession—a key commodity for the visitors, considering Barcelona have averaged 63 percent possession (68 percent in their last home match) so far this season. 

Carlos Bacca

Another summer addition. Last year, Bacca scored 22 goals in 25 top division Belgian league games for Club Brugge culminating in a €7 million move to Sevilla.

During a close season, where the world transfer record reached €100 million, that figure hardly seems impressive. However, considering the South American joined Brugges just 18 months prior for less than £2 million, four-fold increase in his transfer value could spell danger for the home side.

Denis Cheryshev (on loan from Real Madrid)

The exciting young left-winger has been farmed out to the south of Spain in order to gain invaluable La Liga experience.

Already a Russian international, the 22-year-old is yet to make an appearance for Real in La Liga.

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Having joined Sevilla on deadline day, Cheryshev, if selected, will play some part against Real's bitter rivals Barca in his first outing. He could be in his parent club's good books after his first game. 

Saturday's match at the Camp Nou kicks off at 7 p.m. CEST

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