Blaugrana battled back twice to hold a resilient Mallorca side to a dramatic 2-2 draw at the Mallorca Son Moix on Tuesday as teenage prodigy Fermin Lopez scored his first professional goal for the club.
Xavi Hernandez’s side relinquished a five-game winning league streak but at least maintained an unbeaten seven-match start to their La Liga title defence (W5, D2).
Stuck two points adrift of unexpected early pacesetters Girona at the start of this round, Barcelona can still defy our 2023/24 La Liga predictions, but resurgent Sevilla could throw a spanner in the works.
Not long ago, visiting manager Jose Luis Mendilibar was staring down the barrel of an imminent sacking despite guiding Los Rojiblancos to a record-extending seventh Europa League crown last term.
His team opened the new league campaign with a disheartening 2-1 home loss to Valencia.
Following a penalty shoot-out heartache against Manchester City in the UEFA Super Cup last month, Sevilla’s domestic struggle continued with back-to-back defeats to Girona and promoted Deportivo Alaves.
However, Mendilibar has seemingly steadied the ship, with the Andalusian powerhouse racking up a four-match undefeated streak in all competitions in the build-up to this trip (W2, D2).
Despite being stripped of Camp Nou comforts, Barcelona’s home performances this season have been exceptional, with Xavi’s lads winning all four competitive games via a combined score of 15-2.
The reigning La Liga holders pulled off an out-of-this-world comeback last weekend, overturning a 2-0 deficit inside the final ten minutes to beat Celta Vigo 3-2 on home turf.
Xavi will hope for a less stressful event on Friday, knowing Barcelona last lost a league encounter against Sevilla in October 2015, with 11 of their 15 top-flight duels since ending in the Catalans’ favour (D4).
Barca’s dominance in this fixture has been particularly intimidating at home, where they’ve won three of their last four league matches against Los Rojiblancos without conceding (D1).
Trips to Camp Nou haven’t been kind to Sevilla as they last won a top-flight game at Barcelona’s iconic venue in 2002, so Estadio Olimpico could be a perfect opportunity for them to turn the script.
Mendilibar’s side will take this trip in high spirits after taking a 2-0 lead within the opening ten minutes of play in a scintillating 5-1 home victory over rock-bottom Almeria on Tuesday.
Sevilla’s stellar midweek performance can inspire confidence in Mendilibar’s corner as the 62-year-old manager hopes to improve his embarrassing coaching record against Barcelona (W1, D3, L22).
But that looks like a pipe dream from the visitors’ perspective after they’ve gone winless on their last four La Liga travels (D2, L2).
Barcelona will be without two standout midfielders after Pedri and Frenkie de Jong failed to recover from injuries.
After resting Robert Lewandowski against Mallorca, Xavi should bring his star striker back into his starting line-up.
Sevilla will take this trip without former Real Madrid forward Mariano Diaz, who’s out with a muscle injury.
Oliver Torres, Tanguy Nianzou and Marco will probably travel to Catalunya with the rest of the squad, though they’re more likely to start on the bench.
Barcelona potential starting line-up:
(4-3-3): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Joao Cancelo, Ronald Araujo, Jules Kounde, Alejandro Balde; Ilkay Gundogan, Oriol Romeu, Gavi; Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski, Joao Felix.
Sevilla potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Orjan Nyland; Jesus Navas, Loic Bade, Sergio Ramos, Adria Pedrosa; Djibril Sow, Ivan Rakitic; Suso, Eric Lamela, Dodi Lukebakio; Youssef En-Nesyri.
We Say: Barcelona 3-1 Sevilla
A rock-solid backline was the cornerstone of Barcelona’s domestic triumph last season, but Xavi’s defenders have been leaking goals this term.
That could see Sevilla get on the scoresheet, yet the hosts’ frontline has been in superb form, leading us to believe they could tear Los Rojiblancos’ porous defence apart.
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