Camp Nou is a place where the biggest game of La Liga weekend will be played as league leaders Barcelona play host to in-form Sevilla looking to extend their advantage at the top of the chart.
Can Barca keep up the pace?
Following a frustrating season which saw them suffer a double-blow both in La Liga and in elite continental championship, Barcelona have hit the new season hard. Despite selling one of their most prizes possession, Neymar, in a world-record transfer deal to Paris Saint-Germain, the Catalans did not let their form suffer, quite the contrary.
Guided by a new name at the helm – Ernesto Valverde – Barcelona have managed to overcome the issue of Neymar’s absence and the fact his direct replacement Ousmane Dembele has been hit with a heart-crushing injury to mount a serious challenge and set the bar rather high for others to reach. The Catalans have gained a four-point advantage in front of La Liga hot-shots Valencia, leaving the out-of-sorts Real Madrid trailing by huge eight points and will head into the Saturday’s clash against Rojiblancos determined to keep it going. A win would be a massive statement from Ernesto Valverde’s me who welcome the Sevilla clash on the back of a frustrating goalless draw in the Champions League this week. Olympiakos Piraeus held bravely against the more illustrious rival despite suffering the total of 19 shots compared to firing a single one the opposite way. Barcelona need a quick response and should be expected to get it in front of their own supporters.
Valverde will have to do without long-servis Barcelona soldier Andres Iniesta who’s been ruled out through a thigh problem which kept his out of the team’s last two matches.
Additionally, Barcelona chief will be without Sergi Roberto and Andre Gomes, whereas Rafinha is also injured which means Carles Alena could join the squad for the weekend clash.
Sevilla on the run
Rojiblancos have responded in a positive manner to their mid-October slump that saw them lose three matches on the trot. Having lost three consecutive games on the road to Athletic Bilbao, Spartak Moscow and Valencia, respectively, Sevilla got back to winning ways in Copa del Rey against Cartagena and went on to notch wins over Leganes and the Russian side in a reverse Champions League match.
Eduardo Berizzo continue their run of difficult away games which saw Rojiblancos score only two goals in 450 minutes of league football outside their Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan. For that matter, Sevilla lost four out of five away games, winning at Cartagena, quite expectedly to be fair. When it comes to their Camp Nou record, Sevilla will not have too many reasons to feel optimistic knowing they last won almost eight years ago at Barcelona stadium. Five consecutive league defeats at Barcelona are not a promising sign ahead of the weekend’s biggest match in Spain that could – with the best-case scenario – help Sevilla jump up to the third place in the standings.
Eduardo Berizzo will have little to worry about when it comes to squad selection.
Sevilla are without Portugal defender Daniel Carrico who is suffering from a thigh injury whereas the Argentine defender Nicolas Pareja is ruled out through a hip problem.
We could try even harder but it’s hard to look past Barcelona for this particular clash at Camp Nou. Ernesto Valverde’s men are enjoying a superb run of form in La Liga and will not let that goalless draw in Greece demoralise them. It’s not a question of who will win this game, it’s a question of how many goals will Sevilla concede.
Top pick: HT-FT Home Win 1.73 (8/11) @Ladbrokes
Alternative pick 1: Luis Suarez to score anytime 1.53 (8/15) @Unibet
Alternative pick 2: Barcelona to Win Both Halves 2.40 (7/5) @Betfair