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Sunday at 8.45pm CET brings one of the trickiest road trips of Barça’s season. Triple Europa League champions Sevilla have got off to a strong start in LaLiga, where they have a 100 per record so far at the Sánchez Pizjuán. And the Catalan cause is not helped by a number of absences through injury.
All of Gerard Piqué, Andrés Iniesta, Jordi Alba, Aleix Vidal and Jeremy Mathieu are unavailable once again, which means another first team call-up for reserve defenders Nili and Marlon Santos.
The Barça squad announced on Saturday is as follows: Ter Stegen, Cillessen, Rakitic, Sergio, Denis Suárez, Arda, Suárez, Messi, Neymar Jr, Rafinha, Mascherano, Paco Alcácer, Digne, Sergi Roberto, André Gomes, Umtiti, Nili and Marlon.
Sevilla are hanging on the fitness of Man City loanee Samir Nasri, while two of the five Argentinians in the squad are definitely out. Defender Gabriel Mercado is suspended and former Espanyol man Nico Pareja is injured.
“It will be a difficult game as Sevilla are in a strong position” said Barça boss Luis Enrique on Saturday. “To win we will need to get the upper hand in the individual battles all over the pitch.” Read the full story here.
Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli spent much of his pre-match conference discussing a compatriot of his. “There should be two Ballons d'Or” he said. “One for Lionel Messi and one for the rest."
"The way to stop him is to try not to let him get involved. Don’t let him get the ball. There is a plan against Barcelona and another against Leo."
It’s no surprise to see Barça among the top teams in LaLiga, but Sevilla have got off to a flying start as well. Many pundits see this game as their chance to show that the typical three-horse race of recent seasons has now become a four-way affair.
Both sides are also top of their Champions League groups. The Andalusians beat Dinamo Zagreb 4-0 midweek and need just one point from their last two matches to be assured of a place in the last sixteen.
This will be the fifth time the teams have met in 2017 and Barça are looking to make it five wins out five. In February, they came from behind to beat Sevilla 2-1 at the Camp Nou, and extra time goals from Jordi Alba and Neymar Jr secured a 2-0 win in the Copa del Rey Final.
The other two games were in August’s Spanish Super Cup. Luis Suárez and Munir scored in the first leg in Seville, and Arda Turan (2) and Messi added three more at the Camp Nou to win the trophy 5-0 on aggregate.
No matter where you are in the world we have you covered. Twitter users can follow @FCBarcelona for a live feed of all the action.
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