Woo! It’s preview time for the Sevilla match and Barcelona is hoping to bring home the 8th championship of the Pep Guardiola era and start the season off right after an offseason of ups (hey, 8 World Cup champions) and downs (Zlatan is staying, for the last time, if you ask again, the banhammer is coming out). But out boys have got some work to do after taking a 3-1 beating at Sevilla last weekend in a game that featured very little good play, although that’s to be expected when none of your players have practiced together in 3 months and most of them have spent that time on a beach. But enough with the excuses here, Barcelona lost and the only way to make it better is to win at least 2-0 tomorrow.
Sevilla is a team I cannot wrap my head around. They always seem to play well against us and are wont to play up to the level of the big teams in Spain. Then of course they crap the bed against the Xerez’s of the world, losing games that should not be close. Basically, they confuse me. Making matters stranger was Sevilla’s midweek Champions League qualifier loss to Braga in Portugal wherein they looked dreadful. But they should have their full compliment of role players and studs for this game (squad lists will be updated when they arrive).
All that confusion aside, Sevilla is a pesky side and one I don’t really like to play all that much because they are physical, have a number of threatening offensive options, and Palop likes to stonewall us out of nowhere sometimes. As they showed in the first leg and in the penultimate match of last year’s Liga campaign, they can score goals in bunches if given even minimal chances, and that’s why they scare me.
For the Blaugrana this game will like serve much more as another warm-up and further training than it will as a bellwether game for how our season will turn out. Even if Barça fail to retain the trophy and it heads back to Seville then the team should not be ashamed. Pep and the boys can only do so much with a host of young players and many others pulled away with international duties and much-needed vacations, not to mention very limited practice and gel time. The show will go on, we will be disappointed, but will then turn around for the Gamper Trophy game on Wednesday against Milan.
However, the chances of turning this one around are greatly improved now that Pep has a full squad at his disposal and hopefully starting a number of first-teamers. It is unlikely that a full-strength squad will be trotted out mostly due to the fact that they have had all of 2 days to practice all together, but it’s still better than the non-existent midfield and crushing defensive lapses suffered last week. A Xavi, Busquets, or Iniesta combined with Keita and JDS or Thiago certainly makes for marked improvement over the past and the addition of Puyol or Pique in the back would certainly make up for the gaping holes that Kanoute was exploiting last week. That leaves an offensive game that showed flashes but saw the black hole that was Bojan destroy any and all attacks. Perhaps with a more comprehensive trident featuring any two of Pedro, Villa, Messi, or Ibra plus the little void a more thorough beating would be in order.
Official Prediction: 2-0. A lot of questions marks here and we have no idea about squads or starters right now, but I like Barcelona to make a better showing this week at the Camp Nou with a better, more experienced group to play with. A combination of youth and experience win the day with Ibra and Pedro getting goals.
Match Info: The game is at 2:30 EST, 8:30 Barcelona time. It does not appear to be on any American TV live so we will try to find some live streams for you.
Sevilla squad list is (not entirely confirmed): Palop, Javi Varas, Konko, Dabo, Fazio, Squillaci, Escude, Renato, Cigarini, Romaric, Zokora, Navas, Alfaro, Perotti, Diego Capel, Negredo, Kanoute, Luis Fabiano.
@Barcastuff said Barça would have all 22 first team players available plus JDS and Thiago from the second team. We’ll update as soon as it’s official.