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Luis Enrique’s side have recorded six points out of a possible six in the league since the recent international break with back to back wins over Celta Vigo in Balaídos and Almería at Camp Nou. The blaugranes remain four points clear of nearest rivals Real Madrid at the top of the table. However, that lead will be tested this Saturday with a tough encounter against a Sevilla side who boast the only unbeaten home record in La Liga this season.
Barça trained on Friday for the final time before making the trip to Andalusia to take on Sevilla in the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán at 8.00pm CET on Saturday. After the session Luis Enrique named his 18 man squad with Jordi Alba included for the first time since his recovery from a hamstring injury picked up in Spain’s recent Euro 2016 qualifier against the Ukraine. Sergio Busquets also returns to the squad after missing the win over Almería due to suspension. Ivan Rakitic returns to the Sánchez Pizjuán for the very first time since his summer move to Barça from Sevilla. Thomas Vermaelen continues his recovery from surgery and remains behind in Barcelona along with Masip, Douglas, Sergi Roberto and Montoya.
Sevilla boss Unai Emery should have Cameroonian midfielder Stephane Mbia back after the former Marseille man was forced to sit out the Andalusians’ recent victories over Athletic and Levante. The home side will still be without first choice keeper Beto due to injury and also back up shot stopper Mariano Barbosa and midfielder Cristóforo. Mercurial Argentine midfielder Éver Banega returns after suspension.
Barça boss Luis Enrique is under no illusions about the size of the task facing his side in the Sánchez Pizjuán: "We’ll have to play very well to beat them,” remarked the Asturian in front of the gathered press. Another man aware of the difficulties that Saturday’s game present is Sevilla boss Unai Emery: “Luis Enrique is doing a great job….Barça come into the game in great form.”
Barça recorded their 20th win in 21 matches against Almería on Wednesday and go to the Sánchez Pizjuán in search of their seventh successive away win in La Liga. Sevilla, aside from not having lost at home in the league since a defeat against Barça in February of last year, have won their last five league matches and are currently in fifth place in the table, challenging for a place in next season’s Champions League.
There have been some memorable encounters between the two sides in Andalusia in recent years. Barça have won on five of their last six visits to the Sánchez Pizjuán in the league with Sevilla’s last win coming back in 2006/07 when Dani Alves got his name on the scoresheet for his former club in a 2-1 victory. When the sides met earlier this season, Leo Messi scored a hat trick in a 5-1 win for Barça at Camp Nou in a game that will be remembered for the Argentine surpassing Telmo Zarra’s league record of 251 goals.
No matter where you are in the world we have you covered. And remember, you can enjoy live commentary in English on Radio Barça. The link will appear at fcbarcelona.com just before kick-off. Twitter users can follow @FCBarcelona for a live feed of all the action.
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