Barcelona will be aiming to bounce back from their disappointing defeat to Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday when they travel to Andalusia to take on high flying Sevilla. Gerry Johnston takes a look at what to expect from Sunday night's opponents.


Sevilla have made an excellent start to the season and they currently sit fourth in La Liga with 21 points from their ten games. They are just one point behind Barcelona and three behind table toppers, Real Madrid. Sevilla are unbeaten in their last seven games and have lost just one game since losing to Real Madrid and Barcelona in the UEFA Super Cup and Spanish Super Cup respectively. Their only defeat of the season came at San Mames in September when Athletic Club beat them 3-1.

Sevilla are also doing well in the Champions League and currently find themselves top of Group H ahead of Juventus, Lyon and Dinamo Zagreb. They have ten points from four games and need just one more point from their last two games to secure a place in the next round which will mean their run of three Europa League titles in a row will come to an end. Sevilla are particularly good at home and have won seven in a row at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan including an impressive 1-0 victory over Atletico Madrid.

Head to Head

Barcelona have an excellent recent record against Sevilla with 13 wins in the last 16 meetings between the sides. Sevilla have only won once in that period with the other two being drawn. That Sevilla win came in this fixture last season when Michael Krohn-Dehli and Vicente Iborra put Sevilla 2-0 up before Neymar got a goal back but Barca were unable to equalise. That match was only 13 months ago but the teams have met four times since then with Barcelona winning on all four occasions although one of these wins came after extra-time in the Copa del Rey Final.

Overall, Barcelona have won 100 of 178 meetings with Sevilla. 35 of the meetings have ended in a draw with Sevilla winning 43 times. Barca have scored 364 goals and conceded 225 in the 178 games between the sides. Barcelona have kep 67 clean sheets in these games and once again Lionel Messi is the top scorer in the fixture from the current squads with 25 goals against Sunday’s opposition.

Where are we playing?

Sunday nights game takes place at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Seville. It opened in 1958 and one of the stadiums architects was Manuel Munoz Monasterio who also designed the Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid. The stadium was named after the Sevilla President, Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan who initially bought the land the stadium was constructed on. He passed away just before construction began and his successor promised to name it after him. The stadiums capacity is 42,500.

Two games were played in the stadium during the 1982 World Cup including the famous 3-3 draw between West Germany and France in the semi-finals. West Germany ended up winning on penalties thanks to Harald Schumacher who probably shouldn't have been on the pitch after what can only be described as an assault on Patrick Battiston which left the Frenchman with two lost teeth, three broken ribs and damaged vertebrae. Another famous game played at the stadium won't bring back happy memories for Barcelona fans. The 1986 European Cup Final between Barca and Steaua Bucharest was goalless after 120 minutes and Barcelona failed to score in the penalty shootout which meant Steaua won and Barca would have to wait another six years for their first European Cup.


Jorge Sampaoli was appointed manager of Sevilla in the summer which is his first job in Europe after over 20 years managing in South America. His playing career was cut short by injury at just 19 years old when he was in the youth ranks at Newell's Old Boys (Lionel Messi's old club in Argentina).

After spells as a manager with Alumni de Casilda and Belgrano de Arequito he went back to Newell's to coach their reserve side, Argentino de Rosario. He later went to Aprendices Casildenses where he won two Championships. Sampaoli’s next move was into professional football with Juan Aurich of Peru. He had an unsuccessful spell there before being appointed Sport Boys' (also Peru) manager. He then moved to Coronel Bolognesi where he spent two years before completing his time in Peru with a short spell at Sporting Cristal.

In 2008 the Argentine went to Chile for the first time for a two year spell with O'Higgins before taking over Emelec in Ecuador in 2010. In 2011 Sampaoli was appointed manager of Universidad de Chile and this was where his career really kicked off. In two years with the club he won two Torneo Apertura, A Torneo Clausura and a Copa Sudamericana which led to him being appointed Marcelo Bielsa's replacement as Chile manager. Sampaoli continued on with the same attacking style that Bielsa had used and under his guidance Chile went from strength to strength. In the 2014 World Cup they beat Spain on their way to a last sixteen tie with Brazil which they were unlucky to lose on penalties. A year later Chile hosted the Copa America and Sampaoli's side went all the way to the Final where they beat Argentina on penalties to win their first ever Copa America title. They would go onto retain that title a year later in the United States but Sampaoli had left his post in January 2016 so was not there when they won it.

After five months out of work he was appointed Sevilla manager in June where he has made a dream start. Sevilla remain in touch with the top clubs in La Liga and he will be aiming to keep up that good form as the club look to qualify for the Champions League next season.

Injured and Suspended

Sevilla will be without Benoit Tremoulinas, Michael Krohn-Dehli, Nico Pareja and Carlos Fernandez who are all injured for Sunday nights game. They will be joined on the sidelines by Gabriel Mercado who is suspended and Thimotee Kolodziejczak who has failed to make the match day squad. The good news for Sevilla is Samir Nasri has made the squad although Sampaoli has indicated that he is not guaranteed to start.

Barcelona aren't without their own injury troubles. Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta, Jordi Alba, Aleix Vidal and Jeremy Mathieu are all still injured and have missed out on the matchday squad. With Barcelona short in defence, Luis Enrique has called up Nili Perdomo and Marlon Santos from the B team.

Expected XI

There had been speculation early in the week that Sevilla would line up with three defenders but Sampaoli suggested in his press conference that he would be starting with a back four. Sevilla have lined up with various different formations this season but it is thought that they could line up in a 4-1-4-1 formation on Sunday night.

GK – Sergio Rico (23 years old)

Rico has been at his hometown club since he was a youth team player and he is now the established number one. He was in the Spain squad for Euro 2016 but was always going to be third choice behind David de Gea and Iker Casillas.

RB – Mariano (30 years old)

The Brazilian moved to Europe in 2012 when he signed for Bordeaux. He had two and a half years in France before moving to Sevilla at the start of last season.

CB – Daniel Carriço (28 years old)

The former Sporting Lisbon man joined Sevilla permanently in 2014 although he had a season on loan from Reading before making the move permanent. He has represented Portugal right through youth level but only has one senior cap.

CB – Adil Rami (30 years old)

Rami joined Sevilla from AC Milan in 2015 although he had three years in La Liga prior to that with Valencia. Rami was in the France squad for Euro 2016 and started the first four games but got suspended for the quarter-final which let Samuel Umtiti into the team and Rami never got back in.

LB – Sergio Escudero (27 years old)

Escudero joined Sevilla in 2015 from Getafe and despite struggling at first he has impressed in recent outings for the club. He spent three years in Germany with Schalke and won the DFB-Pokal in 2011.

DM – Matias Kranevitter (23 years old)

The Argentine international began his career with River Plate, helping the team win the Copa Libertadores in 2015( he was named in the team of the tournament). His last game for River was in the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup Final which they lost to Barcelona. He then joined Atletico Madrid before being loaned to Sevilla.

RM – Franco Vazquez (27 years old)

Vazquez was born in Argentina but has represented Italy in two friendlies. He has since indicated he wants to play his international football for the country of his birth which remains possible as he has yet to play a competitive game for either. He joined Sevilla in the summer after four years with Palermo.

CM – Samir Nasri (29 years old)

Nasri has been in good form since joining Sevilla on loan from Manchester City in the summer. Nasri won 41 caps for France but retired from international football in 2014 after a fallout with Didier Deschamps.

CM – Steven N'Zonzi (27 years old)

N'Zonzi joined Sevilla in 2015 after six years in England with Blackburn and Stoke. He helped Sevilla win the Europa League last season and was named in the 18 man squad of the competition.

LM – Vitolo (27 years old)

Vitolo began his career with Las Palmas before joining Sevilla in 2013. He has made over 100 appearances for the club, helping them win three Europa League titles. He made his Spain debut in 2015 but struggled to keep a place until this World Cup Qualifying campaign where he has played three times.

CF – Luciano Vietto (22 years old)

The Argentine forward began his career at Racing Club in his home country. He moved to Spain in 2014 with Villarreal and scored 20 goals in his first season which earned him a move to Atletico Madrid. He only scored three goals for Atletico last season and was loaned to Sevilla in the summer.

Others in contention

Vicente Iborra (28 years old)

Iborra began his career with Levante and made over 180 appearances for the first team before joining Sevilla in 2013. He has three Europa League winners medals with the club.

Joaquin Correa (22 years old)

The Argentine began his professional career with Estudiantes and spent two years there before joining Sampdoria in January 2015. After 18 months in Italy he joined Sevilla in the summer.

Hiroshi Kiyotake (26 years old)

The Japanese international moved to Europe in 2012 with FC Nurnberg in Germany. He spent two years there before joining Hannover in 2014. After four years in Germany he moved to Sevilla in the summer.

Pablo Sarabia (24 years old)

Sarabia began his career with Real Madrid but only ever made one sub appearance for the senior team before joining Getafe in 2011. He made over 140 appearances for them before joining Sevilla in the summer. He is yet to make a senior appearance for Spain but he represented them at youth level and won the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championships and 2011 UEFA European Under-19 Championships.

Paulo Henrique Ganso (27 years old)

The Brazilian eventually moved to Europe with Sevilla in the summer after years of being linked with a move every transfer window. He was in the Santos squad alongside Neymar when the club won the 2011 Copa Libertadores.

Wissam Ben Yedder (26 years old)

Ben Yedder joined Sevilla in the summer from Toulouse. He was excellent for Toulouse, scoring 70 goals in all competitions over the last four years.

Key Men

Sergio Escudero

The Spanish left back has been superb this season in his 11 appearances for the club, particularly in the wins over Real Betis and Atletico Madrid. In midweek he even managed to get a goal in the 4-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb. Barcelona will be expected to create opportunities against Sevilla and Escudero will have to be at his best to help a Sevilla defence that has had a lot of highs and lows this season.

Franco Vazquez

Vazquez is expected to play in a wider role than he has been used to this season, with most of his appearances coming in a central role. He has two goals and an assist this season and while he is mostly used in an attacking role he often provides good support to the defence which will be vital in this match.

Luciano Vietto

Vietto has been in good form for Sevilla since arriving in the summer. He has scored five and added three assists in all competitions this season and looks very much like the Vietto that was at Villarreal rather than the Atletico Madrid version. He will provide a major threat to the makeshift Barcelona backline and they will have to be on top of their game if they are to keep him quiet on Sunday.


Sunday's game will be refereed by Santiago Jaime Latre. This is Latre's third season as a top flight referee and at 37 years old he will be hoping that he can have a long successful career as an official.

In Barcelona's last five games with Latre as the referee they have won four (including a 2-1 home win over Sevilla) and drawn one. In those five games he has booked eight Barcelona players, gave Barca a penalty and awarded one against the club. In his last five games in charge of Sevilla, Sevilla have won once, drew once and lost three games. He has booked 12 Sevilla players, awarded them two penalties and gave one against them.


After the loss to Manchester City in midweek and a disappointing performance in the 1-0 win over Granada last Saturday this is a nightmare fixture for Barcelona. City got right in Barcelona's face during the week and the defence couldn't deal with their high pressing which is exactly what they are going to get from Jorge Sampaoli's Sevilla team. This is an extremely difficult game for Barcelona and it will be a real test of Luis Enrique's tactical acumen. He failed on Tuesday when he was out coached by Pep Guardiola and he needs to have a plan in place to do something different as Sevilla will be a mirror image of what City did in midweek. To win this game Barca may need to score two or three goals and a score draw might actually be a good result considering the current injury list.

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