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FC Barcelona take on Sevilla FC for Week 26 of La Liga on Sunday (kick off 8.30pm CET) aiming to restore their eight-point advantage at the top of the table and to extend their unbeaten run to 34 matches.
Luis Enrique had a full squad at his disposal for the last training session before the game, aside from Rafinha who remains injured.
He announced his squad of 18 on Sunday morning, and it is as follows: Ter Stegen, Bravo, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio, Alves, Arda, Iniesta, Suárez, Messi, Neymar Jr, Mascherano, Bartra, Munir, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, Aleix Vidal and Mathieu.
There are no places for Masip, Douglas, Sandro, Adriano or Vermaelen
In contrast Unai Emery has some major absentees for his side’s trip, as Ever Banega misses out through suspension while Grzegorz Krychowiak, Marco Andreolli and Nicolas Pareja are injured. Fernando Llorente, Mariano and Federico Fazio failed to make the cut.
The good news for Sevilla is that winger Vitolo is back in the squad after suffering an injury last week’s league draw against Rayo Vallecano.
Sevilla’s form has seen an upward curve in recent months, something which Luis Enrique acknowledged in his pre-match press conference:
“We are playing one of the leading clubs, who will make big demands of us and who have improved a lot since the first half of the season.”
The Andalusians defeated Barça in the first round of the season and while most teams come to the Camp Nou with the sole intention of defending, Emery seems to have other ideas.
“To win at Camp Nou you must aim to get to their penalty area to so they can get the feeling that we are capable of scoring," before adding that their displays in recent trips to Barcelona "makes us believe that we can win".
With eight league wins on the bounce, Barça are currently flying. Should the Catalans avoid defeat, they will equal Real Madrid’s record of 34 matches unbeaten in the 1988/89 season.
Sevilla have picked up the pace in La Liga, moving up to fifth in the table with five wins from their last seven games. The Andalusians, however, have yet to win an away game this season in the league.
The two sides shared an enthralling European Super Cup final last summer, which Barça went on to win 5-4 in extra time after Sevilla had pegged the Catalans back from 4-1 down.
In the league, Barça tend to dominate this fixture, with ten wins out of the last eleven league meetings yet Sevilla’s 2-1 win at the Sanchez Pizjuan earlier this season adds an extra spice to Sunday’s game.
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