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FC Barcelona return to action on Friday (Ramon Sánchez Pizjuán, 9.00pm CEST) with one of their most difficult away matches of the season against Sevilla. The blaugrana remain two points clear at the top of the table, with the Andalusian side currently in third place, just ahead of Atlético Madrid.
For the match against the Andalusians, Quique Setién has called up 23 players: Ter Stegen, N. Semedo, Piqué, I. Rakitic, Sergio, Arthur, Suárez, Messi, Neto, Lenglet, Griezmann, Jordi Alba, Braithwaite, Vidal, Junior, Iñaki Peña, Riqui Puig, Collado, Ansu Fati, R. Araujo, Saverio, Chumi and Monchu. Umtiti is suspended whilst Dembélé, Sergi Roberto and Frenkie De Jong are out due to injury.
After a stuttering start to the campaign, Sevilla have been performing more and more solidly as the season has progressed and they have only lost three of their last 21 games. They were third before Covid-19 interrupted the season and a 2-0 derby win at home to Real Betis and a 1-1 draw at Levante mean they have managed to hold onto that place.
They are also still alive in the Europa League, where they face Roma in the Round of 16. Their top goalscorer this season is Argentinian Lucas Ocampos with 11 goals.
They’re managed by a familiar face, former Barça goalkeeper Julen Lopetegui, and the squad includes defender Sergi Gómez, who played 96 games for Barça B, and striker Munir El Haddadi, who after loan spells from Barça to Valencia and Alavés joined Sevilla full-time in January 2019.
- Sevilla are unbeaten in their last eight matches in all competitions.
- Barça have only failed to score in four matches against the Andalusians in all competitions dating back to 2006 (43 matches in total).
- Sevilla are Lionel Messi’s favourite opponents. In the 38 matches that the No.10 has played against them, he’s found the net on 37 occasions, including 29 goals in 26 LaLiga games. Amazingly, he has scored at least once in nine of the last 11 games between the sides.
- Messi has scored 699 career goals for FC Barcelona and Argentina. So his next goal would be number 700 for him!
- In February 2018, as an Atlético Madrid player, Antoine Griezmann scored a hat trick at the Sánchez Pizjuán.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
6/10/19 (LALIGA) Barça 4 Sevilla 0
23/2/19 (LALIGA) Sevilla 2 Barça 4
30/1/19 (COPA DEL REY) Barça 6 Sevilla 1
23/1/19 (COPA DEL REY) Sevilla 2 Barça 0
20/10/18 (LALIGA) Barça 4 Sevilla 2
Barça picked up a big win against the Andalusians at the Camp Nou earlier this season, scoring four to no reply thanks to Suárez, Vidal, Dembélé and Messi, and that was despite having both Araújo and Dembélé sent off.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Quique Setién: "The team is capable of winning every game, though. The reality right now is that we've won two matches since the restart, with six goals scored and none conceded. That's good and better than other teams. But it's difficult to win every point. It's difficult, but it is possible."
"It's true that the fans at the Sánchez Pizjuán push the team on a lot. No supporters might benefit us, but it'll depend on how the game goes. We're playing the third-placed team away and it will be difficult. We'll have to play a great game. Winning it would be great for our confidence, but of course that wouldn't be definitive in terms of the title race."
On Sunday, second placed Real Madrid head to Real Sociedad. In three out of the last four fixtures between the pair, La Real have emerged victorious, and have scored at least two goals on each occasion.
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