Before writing this preview I was toying with the idea of doing so from an ironic parallel universe perspective, one that predicted a routine yet glorious Sevilla victory, with star man, and league top scorer, Fernando Llorente the hat trick hero and subsequent man of the match! A universe where Liga TV money was distributed fairly and evenly, and overpaid multi-millionaire footballers’ actually paid their taxes, and of course Sevilla FC were unbeaten away from h… OK, look, I just wanted to fantasize for a moment.
But alas, the cold reality is that with our current laughable, relegation worthy form on the road, an away game at the free scoring tax haven (aka Barcelona) is really the last thing that we need right now. Like it or not, that is where we are going on Sunday night, and I am quite sure that even the most optimistic of Sevilla supporter will be mentally preparing for the worst. What about you? Perhaps the best we can all hope for is that we go there with our best available team and give it our best shot, and maybe sneak a point? Sadly, and as I shall discuss, even that might not be enough.
Form – last six in La Liga:
As it may have been mentioned once or twice recently on this site, our away form this season in the league is quite frankly beyond a joke! However, in our last 6 La Liga games combined, we are actually unbeaten (won 3 drawn 3 lost 0). No prizes for guessing which of those games were away!?!
Barca, on the other hand, are on fire (won 6 drawn 0 lost 0), look certain winners of the title already, and at Camp Nou they haven’t lost in La Liga in over a year (Malaga providing the shock last February). Funnily enough, the only two times that Barca have failed to win at home in the league since then have both been 2-2 draws against Deportivo La Coruña!!! Coincidence? or have we perhaps stumbled upon Barcelona’s bogey team? Or maybe they just don’t like playing teams with blue striped shirts?? Could be a case for Mulder and Scully at any rate.
Even scarier for us though, is that in their last five home games Barca have scored an average of 4.4 goals, and conceded only 0.4! I’m not quite sure what 0.4 of a goal looks like, or what that means for us on Sunday night, but for fear of sounding like Han Solo, “never tell me the odds” seems to be about the best way of dealing with that info.
Messi struggled, possibly confused by Malaga’s Argentina style kit, in Barca’s last loss at home
Tactics and possible line up:
Emery didn’t start Gameiro or MKD against Molde, which suggests they will start this one, along with Cristóforo, Rami, N’Zonzi, Trémoulinas and Sergio Rico who all sat out the Molde game completely. I expect Fazio to be dropped, as he has been woefully out of touch since he has come back. He looks like he needs quite a few more competitive games under his belt before he can be considered worthy of a place.
Barcelona will no doubt press high and have most of the ball… but when we get the chance to counter attack then pace will be the key, much like it was when we beat them last time. As we saw in the RSP earlier in the season, Gameiro can out sprint any of their defenders, so we will be relying on clever balls played behind them and from deep.
Vitolo hopefully will be fit again and ready to play (he is 50/50 at the moment I understand), and his steam train like runs will be a great asset. I’d also like to see MKD in the Banega role, with Konoplyanka given a start on the left.
I feel our Ukrainian’s best moments have come in the big games, and this could be his chance to prove some of his critics wrong in front of a global audience. As much as I’d like to see those things, I have a suspicion Emery will do what he did away to Atletico Madrid, and start Escudero on the left side of midfield.
N’Zonzi and Cristóforo probably the two holding midfielders, the latter’s tenacity combined with the former’s composure their best attributes. One thing that I love about Cristóforo is that he never gives up. Like an enthusiastic dog chasing a tennis ball, he just runs and runs and more often than not gets an important nick on that ball to break up the opposition attack. And for this I hope he starts. N’Zonzi has been growing in stature since the start of the year, and long may it continue, we will need a cool head out there.
In defence, I am looking forward to seeing Rami back in there, and I hope he can keep his earlier recent form going. Carrico my preferred defensive partner for this game, although Kolo has been doing fine so who knows who Emery will choose. Trémoulinas will probably start at left back since he didn’t even make the squad on Thursday.
At right back, I’m worried for Coke up against Neymar, but really, would Mariano be any better in this game? I am not sure I have seen enough of Mariano in a defensive way to say I’d be more confident with him. Coke is perhaps our least technically gifted player, but experience is what we will need here. Coke and Neymar also have a bit of a history, so hopefully that could work in our favour. Having said that, it still might be advisable that Coke’s wife and kids don’t watch…
Emery calls for a taxi for Coke and N’Zonzi, whilst some members of the home support miss one of the greatest pieces of skill seen at the RSP in years…
So, if all are fit and available, I think we will go with the following XI:
Coke Rami Carrico Trémo
Vitolo MKD Escudero
No matter the line up though, damage limitation could be the order of the day, especially if their front three find their mojo. As we all know, their movement at times is bewildering, and I am sure Suarez especially has some sort of teleportation device, such are the amount of times he pops up in just the right place at just the right time, usually and inexplicably in acres of space inside the box.
And, even when they play poorly, which believe it or not they sometimes do, all they often need is Neymar to fall over in the breeze 20 yards from goal (very windy in that part of the pitch so I hear), a soft free kick to be awarded, and Messi to duly pop the ball into the corner of the net. It has happened many times before, and it will happen many times again we can be sure.
And to further cheer you up, not that we need reminding of course, but last season we got thrashed 5-1 there, and that was even with the likes of Bacca, Banega, Vidal, Pareja and Kyrchowiak in the starting XI, so, I am sorry to say guys… it doesn’t look too promising this time either.
Barcelona 4 Sevilla 1
Gameiro with our goal, on the counter, potentially the opening goal of the game, just making them angry… Oh, and at least one of our players will get sent off, probably Coke, and probably totally underserved too.
OK, understatement of the year coming up, and just in case you couldn’t detect it earlier, but I am not too optimistic about this game. Barcelona, when they want to, can destroy any club on their own pitch, and the only chance we have of coming away with anything other than a defeat is if they decide to go easy on us (or if we somehow pretend that we are actually playing at home).
Not to mention they will probably have revenge on their mind for us having the audacity to beat them last time. So for those reasons, not to mention our away form, I will be amazed, nay, I will actually run down my street wearing nothing but my Sevilla scarf and a smile chanting the Himno (video evidence may not be available) if we somehow come away with a win, or even a point, come Sunday night!
I really hope I am wrong about it all, and that my parallel universe outcome won’t be as much of a fantasy as it sounded in my head, but in all honesty I would probably take a 2-0 loss right now and just move on with our season if offered it.
What do you think? Am I being a bit too pessimistic, do we have a chance, or do you agree we could be in line for an ass whooping?
Thanks for reading, and as always…
¡VAMOS MI SEVILLA!
Michael Krohn Dehli believes we can do it again! Do you?