Barcelona vs Sevilla Preview: How to Watch, Form, Previous Encounter, Key Battle, Team News & More

?Barcelona host Sevilla in a top of the table clash at Camp Nou in La Liga on Sunday. The hosts’ title defence has begun with a relative stutter this season and Barcelona must rectify their poor recent run of league form against a high flying Sevilla side this weekend.

The visitors pose the strongest threat to the Catalan giants at present, with Pablo Machin’s side a point clear of Ernesto Valverde’s Barcelona at the summit of the table heading into Saturday’s match.


The reigning champions have not won in their last four La Liga outings, with their stronger showings coming in the Champions League so far this season, and they’ll be looking to haul their title defence back on track in what is a vital clash at Camp Nou this weekend.

Sevilla, meanwhile, have enjoyed a flying start to their campaign which has seen them deliver greater consistency and conviction than La Liga’s ‘big three’ sides in ?Barcelona and both Madrid clubs, with Los Hispalenses sitting above all three at the top of the table.

Saturday’s encounter provides the truest test yet in the campaign so far of both Sevilla’s true title credentials and of Barcelona’s resolve and ability to defend their crown.

?When? Saturday 20 October @ 7.45pm (BST)?
?Where? ?Camp Nou
?How Can I Watch It? ?Eleven Sports

Form

Barcelona’s recent form in La Liga has largely summed up the champions’ season so far, with two draws and one defeat from their last three domestic outings a poor return from a side of the Catalans’ quality and stature.

A shock 2-1 defeat away to Leganes, in which Valverde’s side threw away a 1-0 lead, was followed by consecutive 1-1 draws at home to Athletic Bilbao and away to Valencia last time out.

Barca’s star men largely went missing on each occasion, though ?Lionel Messi’s equalising strike against Valencia built on the attacking masterclass the Argentine produced to put ?Tottenham to the sword in a 4-2 win in the Champions League four days earlier.


Sevilla, meanwhile, have fared far better in their recent run of La Liga matches, though less successfully in Europe. A stunning 3-0 win over European champions ?Real Madrid was the defining moment of Machin’s side’s season so far and is most reflective of their current position.

That home triumph was followed by another comfortable win, as Sevilla secured a 3-1 win away to Eibar. A 2-1 defeat away to FC Krasnodar in the Europa League threatened to put a dampener on proceedings, but a 2-1 win at home to Celta Vigo three days later strengthened their position at the top of the La Liga table.


Previous Encounter

Saturday’s trip to the Camp Nou serves up Sevilla’s toughest test so far this season and threatens to halt their table topping charge in La Liga. However, the previous encounter between the two sides should provide an encouraging reminder that Machin’s side certainly have the beating of Barcelona on their day.


Goals from Franco Vazquez and Luis Muriel either side of half time thrust the champions elect firmly on the back foot.

Valverde’s side required a dramatic late fightback to save Barca’s blushes, as quick-fire strikes from star duo ?Luis Suarez and Messi in the last two minutes of the match narrowly secured a point for either side in a 2-2 draw.


Key Battle

Sergio Busquets vs Ever Banega

With clashes typically tight between these two sides, the mere point which separates Barcelona from Sevilla in the La Liga table heading into this weekend’s clash suggests that Saturday’s encounter will be no different.

As both sides will require a foothold to assert their authority over the opposition, the midfield battle will be key in deciding which side is able to seize control of the game on Saturday.

For Barcelona, Sergio Busquets is very much the hub of Valverde’s team, and the Spaniard will look to assert the kind of influence on the match from his deep-lying midfield base which has become the Barca icon’s trademark.


On the opposing side, Sevilla’s Ever Banega will look to perform a similar role for the visitors, though the Argentine’s talismanic role for his side tends to see the playmaker venture further forward with more free-roaming advances into the opposition’s half.

Busquets and Banega are undoubtedly the key men in pulling the strings for their respective sides and Saturday’s match could ultimately be decided by the prevailing of either man in assuming the greater and more decisive creative influence to guide their side to victory.


Team News

Barcelona head into Saturday’s match with a number of defensive issues and the absence of a star man to contend with.

Centre backs Samuel Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen continue to miss out with hamstring and knee injuries respectively, while right back ?Sergi Roberto remains absent.


In another blow to Valverde’s selection plans, star striker Luis Suarez is missing from action with a knee problem which forced the 31-year-old to miss Uruguay’s international commitments during the break.

Sevilla, meanwhile, have similar defensive concerns of their own, with centre back Gabriel Mercado still recovering from a fractured arm and Sergio Escudero absent with an elbow problem. Ibrahim Amadou is also set to miss out due to a similar issue.


Prediction

Saturday’s match is a big test and a great occasion for both sides as La Liga’s top two meet, and the pressure to win is undoubtedly of greater weight on Barcelona.

The champions have endured real struggles in recent domestic outings and will be conscious of the need to return to winning ways to get their title defence back on track, while Sevilla’s recent run of great league form will likely see the visitors buoyed all the more by Barca’s problems.

Both sides have the capacity to stamp an authority on this match, as Barcelona’s collective of individual stars and Sevilla’s team ethic and determination should provide a relatively even and closely-fought encounter.

Prediction: Barcelona 2-2 Sevilla

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Picking the Best Potential Barcelona Lineup to Face Sevilla in La Liga on Saturday

Barcelona host Sevilla at Camp Nou on Saturday in a La Liga clash between the current top two in Spanish football.

Ernesto Valverde’s side have endured a torrid recent run of domestic form and have not won in their last three La Liga outings, in contrast to a Sevilla side who have won each of their last four domestic matches.

Though Barcelona’s collective of individual quality is a match for any team in Europe, their inability to capitalise on their technical supremacy has seen them slip somewhat off the pace in their title defence so far this season.

The Catalan giants are, however, only one point off Sevilla at the top of the league and Saturday’s encounter provides the ideal opportunity on home soil for the champions to truly kickstart their stuttering campaign.

Here is a selection of the strongest potential Barcelona side to face Sevilla this weekend.

1. Goalkeeper & Defenders

Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GK) – With Barca’s defence currently ravaged with injuries, Ter Stegen will be required more than ever to provide consistency and stability at the back for his side.

Nelson Semedo (RB) – With regular right back Sergi Roberto still injured, Semedo has been handed the opportunity for an extended run in defence, though the Portugal international has generally failed to convince so far with some shaky displays.

Gerard Pique (CB) – Amid the raft of defensive injuries around him, the onus is on Pique all the more to be the experienced head and leader of Barca’s defence.

Clement Lenglet (CB) – Another who has generally struggled when handed his chance to impress, much was expected from summer signing Lenglet but the Frenchman hasn’t imposed himself in the absence of compatriot Samuel Umtiti.

Jordi Alba (LB) – An automatic selection when fit for his side, the pressure on Alba is greater than ever as Barcelona’s only senior option at left back, though his current lack of involvement with the Spain national team means he should be relatively fresh for action.

2. Midfielders

Ivan Rakitic (CM) – The World Cup finalist has seen the importance of his role in Barcelona’s engine room grow following the summer departure of Andres Iniesta, and Rakitic is vital to the technical stability of his side in the middle of the park.

Sergio Busquets (CM) – Still as integral as ever and one of the last remaining members of the old golden generation, Busquets’ role in Saturday’s match will be key in assuming control for his side and dictating play from deep in the Spaniard’s trademark style.

Arthur (CM) – Though his summer arrival at Camp Nou flew somewhat under the radar by comparison to the more high profile signings, Arthur’s growing role in Barcelona’s midfield has seen his playing time exceed that of the Catalan side’s other recent arrivals. With a number of injury problems meaning Barca are in need of a slight reshuffle, the 22-year-old is likely to keep his place in midfield on Saturday.

3. Forwards

Lionel Messi (RW) – The Argentine remains Barcelona’s talisman, with six goals and four assists in eight La Liga games, and will probably score against Sevilla. He likes a goal every now and then.

Luis Suarez (ST) – There was concern over the Uruguayan, who was initially a doubt for the game through injury, but Suarez has overcome the niggle and should lead the line on Saturday.

Philippe Coutinho (LW) – A more regular run of game time in central midfield has benefitted Coutinho this season, but a shortage of attacking options could also see the Brazilian reverted to the left wing, with a greater depth of options in midfield making Barca capable of filling the former Liverpool star’s position in midfield with adequate quality.

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Tottenham Consider January Swoop for Out of Favour Barcelona Forward Malcom

?Tottenham are considering a move for Barcelona winger Malcom in the January transfer window, despite the fact the  Brazilian only moved to Spain at the start of this season.

Malcom joined Barcelona from Bordeaux for about €50m (£43.9m) in July, but has struggled for game time so far under manager Ernesto Valverde. He has featured just twice in La Liga so far – failing to register a goal or an assist – while he has also been left unused in the two Champions League games Barca have played so far.

Real Valladolid CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga

As reported by ?Sport, Tottenham are keeping tabs on the winger’s situation; noting his lack of game time may allow them the opportunity for a mid-season swoop. 

?Tottenham are keen to introduce new players into their team after failing to sign a single player over the summer but will have to pay somewhere in the region of €50m if they want to recruit the former Bordeaux player. 

Trofeu Joan Gamper 2018'FC Barcelona v  Boca Juniors'

With just 15 minutes of league football under his belt for ?Barcelona it does seem that chances will be limited for the Brazilian if he remains at the Camp Nou. 

The attacking talents of Leo ?Messi, ?Ousman Dembele, and Philippe Coutinho were always going to be hard to rival, but his form in Ligue 1 last season did suggest that Malcom may possess the requisite quality to thrive a Barcelona. 

The Brazilian scored 12 goals and provided seven assists in 35 Ligue 1 appearances for Bordeaux last season.

??Ironically, Tottenham’s last signing came in January when they moved for an out-of-favour Brazilian winger also from Ligue 1. This, of course, was Lucas Moura from PSG.

After taking a little while to settle into the English game, the Spurs attacker has started the 2018/19 season in fine form – scoring three goals in eight Premier League games for Mauricio Pochettino.

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Problems Mount for Arda Turan as Turkish Government Launch Investigation Into Alleged Islamist Ties

Barcelona midfielder Arda Turan is said to be facing an investigation into his suspected ties with Islamist clerics organisation Fethullah Gulen.

According to Turkish publication Hurriyet (H/T Diario AS), the Istanbul Prosecutor’s Office has ordered an investigation into the alleged links, with the aforementioned organisation having been blamed for the failed coup d’etat that was attempted in July 2016.

Turkish Spor Toto Super Lig'Medipol Basaksehir FK v Kayserispor'

Turan, currently on loan from Barca, plays for Istanbul Basaksehir. He is not the only player suspected of being involved with the Islamist sect, as teammate Emre Belozoglu and former player Okan Buruk are also implicated. Former Bursaspor technical director Bulent Korkmaz is believed to be linked as well, per the report.

The Prosecutor’s office harbours suspicions regarding the aforementioned individuals, who they believe either have direct links or offered to help Fethullah Gulen, considered a terrorist organisation by the Turkish government since the attempted coup.

Turan was recently accused of other crimes, per reports, and is said to be facing between three and 12 years in prison after uttering threats, causing injuries and being in possession of an illegal weapon during a recent altercationthat saw Turkish singer Berkay Sahin sustain injuries.

Turkish Spor Toto Super Lig'Medipol Basaksehir FK v Kayserispor'

The former Atletico Madrid star reportedly broke Sahin’s nose with a headbutt and is also reported to have harassed the singer’s wife, Ozlem Adad, prior to the incident.

With the singer and his wife having gone to a hospital after the fiasco, reports claim that Turan arrived at the medical facility shortly after and fired off a pistol. While shot did not cause any injuries, it does amount to “shooting with a firearm in a way that may induce fear or panic” and could carry a serious consequence.

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Barcelona Midfielder Arturo Vidal Handed €800,000 Fine for Involvement in 2017 Bar Fight

Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal has been fined €800,000 by a Munich court after being found guilty of assaulting another male during a nightclub fight in 2017.

That is according to The Mirror, who report that the player could have possibly faced a 10-year prison sentence but has escaped with a fine after hitting his victim over the head with a vodka bottle.


Vidal was fined based on 80 days worth of wages and it was determined that he makes €10,000 a day as part of his new Barcelona contract.

The Chilean moved from  Bayern Munich over the summer, joining the Catalan side on a three-year deal, but has since struggled for playing time. It has been quite a rough period for him, considering his recent reprimand by the club as a result of his social media activity.

The player and his half-brother were both found guilty of assaulting another male at the Munich’s Crown Club in September last year, with the brawl caught on camera.

The incident occurred after Bayern’s 4-0 win against Mainz. The player went to celebrate at Munich’s popular, annual Oktoberfest celebration, after which he continued the party in the VIP lounge of the aforementioned establishment.

Vidal’s father-in-law was also fined €35,267, while his younger brother, Sandrino, has also been handed a fine of €18,004.

The midfielder was not present at the hearing as he was playing for Chile against Mexico. But he has been ordered to pay in the fine in €10,000 instalments over 80 days.

Valencia CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga

Vidal was recently described as “lacking respect” by Barca sporting director Pep Segura after he vented over his lack of playing time via social media and has been urged to correct his behaviour by the club.

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