As games versus the Big Two go, Sevilla’s visit today represents a relatively good opportunity for points. Barcelona has been in a bit of a funk this year (I mean, for them–they’re in second place in the table and are doing well enough in the Champions League), seeming to struggle to integrate their latest billion dollar plaything into an offense that already felt a little overstuffed. Plus we’re coming off an international break, a phenomenon that will usually tax a Barcelona-type squad of the best players money can buy more than Sevilla. Plus, as we’ve been sort of breathlessly documenting on these pages the past several months, Sevilla has put together a very strong start to the season while also playing smart, effective football (including, of course, some moments of shocking brilliance).
So it is with cautious optimisim that I consider this evening’s contest. We are, of course, playing in the Camp Nou, and recent ripples of discontent notwithstanding Messi is still Messi. And Neymar and Suarez and all those guys are still the fantastic players they are. And of course these three points, whether won or lost, will be worth the exact same as a home win against Eibar by season’s end. So a loss won’t kill, but to be honest it would sting, given the context and what feels like the opportunity to do some damage. This Sevilla, in this moment, is more than capable of beating this Barcelona, in their current moment. (Of course it’s also possible this is the game that Barca gets their shit together with a 5–0 win and then goes on a 20-win streak. Sort of a non-sequitir but after yesterday’s game it sort of felt like either Athletic got their feet under them just in time to play us a few weeks ago, or perhaps that beating us was just what they needed to get their mojo back.)
So it should be an interesting game. Will the aforementioned context and form of each team impact Emery’s tactics? Lots of folks come to the Camp Nou with a pretty defensive look, and Emery’s done that before while in charge of Sevilla and with other teams. But if there was ever a time to come at the hosts aggressively from the first whistle, this would probably be it.
I say we go for it. I say, VAMOOOOOS.