This evening, Barça face the always tricky challenge of playing away to Sevilla. There is no denying the importance of the game in terms of the team's league challenge, but little did that seem to matter on Thursday when it was revealed that Éric Abidal is going to need a liver transplant. Exactly a year after the Frenchman's illness was made public, the Barça squad has received another dreadful shock. But just like twelve months ago, everybody knows that their team mate is going to be able to get through this.

The players are obviously keen to be able to dedicate a win to Abi, which will also serve to put pressure on Real Madrid, who are currently ten points clear at the top of the table. And it will also be a moment for not just Barcelona but the whole football world to honour the loss of the legendary Estanislau Basora, who departed this world on Friday at the age of 85.

Alexis and Thiago, the good news

But it was not all despair at Barça this week. There was brighter news when it was revealed that both Alexis Sánchez and Thiago Alcántara have been declared fully fit and have been included in the 19-man squad. They are joined by Tello and Muniesa from the reserves. Missing, in addition to Abidal, are Villa, Afellay and Fontàs.

Another Sevilla under Míchel

Sevilla, have a different manager now to the one who led them to the Camp Nou earlier this season, and became the only league side to get a point there this term. Marcelino has gone, and Míchel has arrived. The Andalusians had looked to be improving under their new boss, but the last two games have seen the gap between them and Europe widen to five points. They need to make amends for those setbacks, but will be seeking to do so without the services of the suspended Koke and Fazio. There are also serious doubts regarding the fitness of Navas, Negredo and Spahic, but all three have nevertheless been included in the squad.

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