Once again, we’re back in action again in La Liga. It’s our second game of the week after playing only 3 days ago on Tuesday. It’s a quick turnaround in such a heavily packed schedule for us. Live from the Estadi Lluis Companys, it’s Barcelona versus Sevilla at 9pm local time. Once again, its not going to be a straight forward game. They are the reigning Europa League champions, who play an intense, physical style of football. So its not going to be a walk in the park. Once more, we’re going to have to suffer. We’ll be hoping that the stadium is rocking and can help pull us through.
Lessons from our last game:
We’ve faced Sevilla more than enough times to be aware of what they’ll bring to the game. Intensity and physicality are among the obvious ones. They’ve also got some brilliant technical players too. As well as a few familiar faces. Ivan Rakitic, formerly of Barcelona is their talisman and has been rolling back the years so far after he made his return a few years back. Speaking of returns, that’s exactly what happened when Sergio Ramos joined the club just a few weeks ago.
On the side of Barca however, I want to look back just to a few days ago and highlight some lessons we should’ve learnt from our very last game. Sevilla wont be playing such a satanic low block like we’ve seen with Getafe, Cadiz so far. But they will be difficult to break down. And in our last game, i think that’s the thing we did well. We created enough chances and performed well enough to win comfortably at Mallorca. But whats cost us in the end? Individual mistakes in defence. And when you compare that to last season, where we were barely making any, it’s obviously become a bit of a problem now. Those moments where we lose concentration needs to scratched out. And also making the most of the chances you create too. We’ll be hoping to improve on this later on tonight. Still early days of course, but these are the moments where you need to identify the mistakes and move forward and rectify them.
Since our last game, nothing has changed in terms of availability. Pedri and Frenkie are on the sidelines, but everyone else is available. One positive about playing tonight is knowing that we’ll have 5 days off until our next game, which is away at Porto next week. Obviously we’re going to need to keep that game in mind as it’s going to be a big test and taxing on the fitness. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see Xavi make a few rotations vs Sevilla. The 2 players id be looking at would probably be the 2 Joao’s. Both have played an incredible amount of football recently at a very high level too. Being the most important players in the squad, but they also need rest at some point. And i think ahead of a return to Portugal, this would be the perfect time. The only headache Xavi would have then is choosing how to setup with them out. Me personally, I’d be trying to keep Roberto or Alonso far away from the team. So maybe this is one of those games where Kounde will need to play at RB again. He does a very good job there and would also add a bit of strength defensively on that side too. I wouldn’t put Araujo there as he just isnt built for that. He needs to start down the centre or be rested. He’s just come back from injury so we have to remember that. To replace Felix, I’d leave Gavi in the central position and put Fermin on the left hand side. Raphinha should start from the right. He was incredible versus Osasuna. And also Yamal had a fantastic cameo appearance, so he’ll come on at some point too.
My starting lineup:
Kounde- Araujo- Christensen- Balde
Gavi- Romeu- Gundogan
Raphinha- Lewandowski- Fermin