Sevilla – Barcelona

The visiting league leaders, as Manzano pointed out earlier this weekend, are playing some of the best football in their club’s long history.  They played superbly midweek and deserved to pass through to the quarters regardless of any refereeing decisions.  On the one hand, we at Monchi’s Men are left hoping they have an off day, but even in that unlikely event, it’s not as if the Sevilla players would get credit for a victory even if both teams played well.  The way these matches are perceived and dissected, it’s Barcelona and Madrid’s table – we just eat at it.

That is intended only to be a realistic commentary, not a gripe or jab at either of those footballing entities.  The truth is, even if Sevilla win today, the story that will be penned by countless Eduardo Inda munchkins and Joan Vehils cronies is this one: “Tropieza el líder,” “Batacazo del Barça,” or “Pinchazo andaluz,” highlighting a Barcelona loss as opposed to a Sevilla win.  This should be the case for either Barça’s or Madrid’s media outlets, because that’s what they’re paid for, and it’s simply the way the Spanish have preferred to follow their league.

For Sevilla, though, there is much more to concentrate on than making the league more interesting between the top two teams.  We have a Europa League spot to keep pushing toward, and a win would leapfrog us over Atlético to move us into a tie for sixth place.  There’s much to do, then.

In the first meeting this season, Dani Alves pinned Diego Perotti deep in our third for nearly the entire match, severely weakening our capacity for counters and general aggression.  We’ll see what Manzano tries this time, but he’s been showing all season that he likes to go for broke.  I’d like and would expect to see Negredo starting up top alone, possibly with Rakitic playing behind and dropping deeper into midfield to link up with Medel and Zokora or Romaric, who may start in midfield together in front of the back four.  I choose Rakitic over Big Freddi because I think he is a bit more dynamic.  For all of Freddi’s effortless smoothness on the ball, we’re going to need game-breakers at the offensive spots.  I’d like to see Capel have a go at Alves this time, and we can anticipate that the CB pairing of Fazio and Alexis will be given a chance.  It’s mostly out of necessity, as Escudé is serving a one-game suspension for yellow accumulation.  He and Fazio have been pretty solid in the back for us recently.  I’m assuming that Navarro will start on the left, but will probably get carded quickly with all the Dani-Dives® happening over there.  I wonder if Dabo or Cáceres will start on the right?  Hm…  I’d like to see Dabo.  He’s played well recently and has looked more in tune with Navas.

Maybe we’ll even see more of our former players: Keita and Adriano could play as well as Alves.  They’ve got more ex-Sevillistas than the rest of the league combined, it seems.  I can only think of three others off the top of my head: Reyes, Ramos, and Duda.  Wait… Baptista, Maresca.  Ok, so nevermind.  Palop is out of this one again, so it’s Varas’s net.  He’ll at least be hoping for better than letting five goals in like last time.

A POR ELLOS, CABRONES!!!  TODOS A UNA, PUTA CATALUNYA!!!!  (j/k, catalunya’s great)