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Barça have not been beaten since they lost at the Sánchez Pizjuán in October while Sevilla are having a very decent season despite not having won a single game away from home. We take a look at some of the key issues going into Sunday’s game.
Unbeaten since October
Sevilla beat Barça the last time the sides met, and with the Catalans on a 33-match unbeaten streak since then, they are the only team in La Liga that can currently say that.
Looking back at that defeat on October 3, Luis Enrique said “the team has not changed since then. At the Pizjuán I felt we were the better team, while there have been other games where we were better and we didn’t win.” Also note that neither Leo Messi nor Andrés Iniesta were available for the previous meeting.
What a position Barça are in! Through to the Copa del Rey final (where they will meet Sevilla again), two goals up against Arsenal in the Champions League last sixteen and five points clear at the top of La Liga after Atlético won away to Real Madrid on Saturday.
There is only really one concern right now, and that’s that the team might be lulled into a false sense of security. Luis Enrique insists that there is no chance of that happening, saying that “we never think that way, and that is the reason why we have won all these trophies.”
Asked about not playing in Champions League matches, Claudio Bravo told Chilean media this week that “I’d be lying if I said I was comfortable with it because I always want to play.”
But just because Bravo was willing to give an honest answer to the question is no reason to start thinking there is any unrest among the Barça goalies. “The situation is sustainable, ecological, organic … Call it what you like” insists Luis Enrique. “I’d love to play them all but the rules only allow me to name eleven at once!”
The visitors were on Europa League duty on Thursday night, losing 1-0 at Norwegian side Molde but qualifying comfortably for the last sixteen 3-1 on aggregate. It means that they have only had two days to prepare for the Camp Nou, half the time that Barça have had.
But manager Unai Emery clearly had the Camp Nou on his mind on Thursday as he rested nine regular starters, and Kevin Gameiro (who has scored ten goals since Christmas) and Michael Krohn-Dehli only featured for half an hour.
Sevilla struggling on the road
Sevilla are fifth in the Liga table, albeit eight points adrift of Villarreal in the chase for Champions League places. But you wouldn’t guess that from their away form, which amounts to eight draws, four defeats and not a single win in La Liga this season.
Emery knows full well that the Camp Nou (where they haven't won a league game in 12 years) is not the most likely place for that negative record to end, but he drew not only on the 2-1 win at the Sánchez Pizjuán but also his team’s great performance against Barça in the European Super Cup, which they eventually lost 5-4, to suggest that an upset is not entirely implausible.
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