Rakitic and Xavi / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

Unai Emery took over at Seville on January 14th and in the month and a half since then, the team have taken 10 out of a possible 15 points, with just one defeat – the 4-1 beating at the Bernabeu – as well as ensuring qualification for the Spanish Cup semi-final, where they are 2-1 down to Atletico Madrid after the first leg at the Vicente Calderon. It’s a record that is in stark contrast to Michel’s final period at the club, when they took just four points from six games, a run that saw him sacked after less than a year in the job.

Emery yet to beat Barça

Emery’s record against Barça with Almeria, Valencia and Spartak Moscow is pretty undistinguished for such a top coach, with nine defeats and five draws over the last five seasons.

Contrasting tactics

Those results hide a reality which is slightly different though, as on a number of occasions, Emery’s teams have caused Barça plenty of problems. At Valencia, his tactics of playing down the flanks with players such as Jordi Alba, Mathieu and Pablo Hernández took him close to victory on more than one occasion and they were consistently one of the toughest visitors to the Camp Nou when Barça played under Guardiola.

The last two games Emery has led a team against Barça were with Spartak, where he used a contrasting approach, with less wing play and a more conservative approach to the games. That nearly worked in the game at the Camp Nou in the Champions League group stage, when Spartak went down 3-2, but the Russians proved less of a threat at home, when they lost 0-3.

Two options – one objective

It will be interesting to see which tactics Emery goes for this weekend, with Navas, Reyes or Del Moral down the wings to feed Negredo in the middle, or a more defensive approach with Medel, Kondogbia and Maduro smothering midfield. Whichever style he goes for, Emery’s objectives are clear – drag Seville up into the European spots and put an end to that terrible away record that has seen them fail to win since beating Deportivo 0-2 at the end of September.

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