I would trade the entire week of vacation I have coming up to be a fly on the wall during the pre-match Pep talk tomorrow. Why, you ask? I have a feeling that Pep’s speech will be a speech that could touch the Grinch’s heart, a speech that could wake the dead, a speech like the infamous Braveheart speech, a speech that says: “We are going to beat Sevilla as if they were ROCKS BEING SMITTEN BY THOR’S HAMMER”… or something like that.
Sevilla has been a bit of an enigma for Barcelona over the last couple of years. Since Guardiola has taken over we have played them nine times, winning seven times and losing twice. Barcelona has an amazing combined 24 goals over those nine games, while Sevilla only has 7. Yet last year they proved a difficult opponent – knocking us out of the Copa del Rey and almost putting our Liga title in jeopardy as they almost took points from us at the end of the season. This means that although we have a great recent record against them, when they manage to align the stars and play their best they can be a very difficult team. Only one of the last nine matches between the teams has had less than 3 goals, so expect the score tomorrow to look like the score of a curling match.
Sevilla has been foundering this year; they are currently in 8th place and if they don’t get themselves together soon they won’t be playing in Europe next season. Barcelona on the other hand… are not foundering. The biggest potential issue our team faces at the moment is a loss of concentration. It is easy enough to get distracted at the highest level – just ask Pique, who forgot he was playing football and instead tried out one of his new dance moves in his last match.
Seriously though, our team is in a very unique and somewhat perilous situation. It seems that everyone who is even remotely related to football and has a medium to have their voice heard wants to comment on this team. You have a group calling the team cheats in one corner while in another corner people debate whether this is the best team ever; and these are just the fans. Lately Rio Ferdinand has come out praising the team’s performance against Arsenal, Christian Eriksen has mentioned he would love to play for Barcelona, and Mourinho has said… well something I’m sure! It is absolutely essential at that the team is able to ignore all this, and that’s why Pep needs to remind them that the history books will write themselves and the only thing that is important right now is the next win.
Speaking of winning, we will still be without our perennial winner, El Capitano Carles Puyol. I would feel a whole lot more comfortable with him in the squad list for tomorrow, as he has the ability to spur his team-mates to victory, much like William Wallace himself.
The squad list does include: Valdes, Pinto, Alves, Adriano, Pique, Milito, Abidal, Maxwell, Busquets, Mascherano, Xavi, Keita, Iniesta, Afellay, Pedro, Messi, Villa, Bojan, and Jeffren. Expect Jeffren to be watching from the stands. The most interesting aspect of the lineup will be whether Maxwell or Adriano starts at left back. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Adriano gets the nod – playing Adriano ahead of Maxwell against Arsenal when the tie was in the balance says a lot about how Pep views the two players. Other than that, expect the usual smash-and-destroy-anything-that-gets-in-our-way lineup.
I don’t have much more to say about this one. Expect a high scoring match – I have a feeling that if we score early the wheels will start to fall off for Sevilla. Vicsoc prediction: 4-0 – Messi channels the power of Thor’s hammer to score a brace and add an assist.