Barcelona certainly won’t be looking forward to what is sure to be a very difficult trip to the Roman Sanchez Pizjuan this Saturday to face Sevilla (9pm, BST).
Tito Vilanova’s side may be winning games and topping the La Liga table, but they’re far from convincing.
Their last league game against Granada saw another three points and two goals scored, but that is far from the main story. Instead, focus was put on Lionel Messi and his frustrations with fit-again David Villa.
The Spanish international is just back from an eight-month injury, but Messi was angered by the lack of cutting edge Villa had in the box to find his team-mate. It’s all trivial stuff, but it’s been blown up and has taken some attention away from the other problems at hand.
One of those problems is that Barcelona really don’t look great. The win against Granada last week could have been a draw or even worse. Both the Barcelona goals came extremely late and Messi wasn’t on the score sheet, although it was his work in the box that forced the own goal to make it 2-0.
Barcelona are not playing that high tempo, impressive passing game we know they can. They’re not closing down the opposition when they’re in search of the ball. Most of all, the reliance on goals from Messi needs to be circumvented. The problem is, Messi wants to be at the centre of it all. That’s the likely reason for his coming together with David Villa in the last game.
Fortunately, David Villa is coming back to full fitness. He offers another option for the wide positions and is deadly in or around the box. His return to full health will also be a boost because Alexis Sanchez in particular has not been impressive. He’s a good player of course, but I’ve questioned since last season what he actually brings to this team, what his real purpose is.
Both Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets are back in training following injury. Carles Puyol is also in training, but question marks remain as to whether he’ll be available for Saturday.
For now, the Barcelona defence looks extremely vulnerable. Javier Mascherano and Alex Song lined up as the two central defenders, but it’s well-known that neither are genuine centre-backs.
What is promising is that Thiago Alcantara is looking very good as he makes his way back to full fitness. He gives Vilanova another option in the midfielder, something which is important considering Xavi’s injury problems.
In comparison, Sevilla are having no such problems. They’re in great form so far in the league, with the home win against Real Madrid in week four being the height of their achievements so far.
Sevilla are fifth in the league table and are yet to taste defeat. Here’s the thing with Sevilla: they’re beating the smaller teams. They are going to places and winning where last season they might have failed.
They had a very good win in their last game away to Deportivo, with Jesus Navas and Ivan Rakitic getting the goals. It’s not a far shout to say that Navas has been one of the better attackers in La Liga so far this season. He’s got goals in him, acts as a great partner for Alvaro Negredo up front and teams are genuinely scared of his pace.
Cicinho has also played a role in the good form of Navas this season. The Brazilian full-back is good on the attack and compliments Navas well, while also being reliable in defence.
Sevilla v Barcelona Betting Tips
I really think Sevilla will give Barcelona a good game on Saturday. Three points definitely won’t be easy to walk away with for the visiting side.