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    Barcelona vs Sevilla Preview

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    Barcelona vs Sevilla Preview

    Post by Admin on Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:11 am


    After claiming a surprise win at Camp Nou, los Rojiblancos travel back home to defend their advantage...
    * Barcelona
    * Sevilla


    Kick Off: Wednesday, January 13, 2010. 22:00 CET
    Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Sevilla

    One Of The Three

    Sevilla and Barcelona are scheduled to go head-to-head three times during January. Already the Rojiblancos have sprung something of a surprise on the Blaugrana, claiming the advantage in their Copa del Rey encounter against the Catalan giants, with goals at Camp Nou coming from Renato and Alvaro Negredo.

    Part two of the trilogy takes place at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Wednesday evening, with the Andalusians needing only to avoid defeat to progress in the Copa del Rey and approach the concluding episode of this mini-series on Sunday in a fine psychological state.

    Despite their terrific win in Catalunya, Manolo Jimenez’s side have not made a bright start to 2010 overall. A last minute defeat against Atletico Madrid on the opening weekend after the winter recess was painful to take, but a 2-1 loss against Racing Santander on Saturday was equally frustrating.

    “Rather than others losing respect for us at home, we have lost respect for ourselves," lamented the coach after Sevilla’s latest set-back. "There are no excuses, we played a disastrous first half.”

    Looking impotent in attack and febrile at the back, there can be little doubt that Sevilla need to raise their level once again if they are to cling to their 2-1 advantage.
    Five Star Showing

    For the opening half hour of Saturday’s Liga match against Tenerife, Barcelona were made to look distinctly second rate by their opponents, who carved open the Blaugrana back four with alarming ease on several occasions.

    This was an exaggeration of Barca’s previously under par showings in 2010. A home draw was the very most they deserved when Villarreal visited Camp Nou a week past on Saturday, while their first leg Copa defeat against Sevilla did not see the Catalan side at their champagne best.

    Victor Valdes and the framework of his goal, in addition to some lamentable finishing, came to Barca’s aid in the Canary Islands, allowing them to conjure up a stunning spell of football in the minutes immediately approaching half-time. Led by Andres Iniesta, Bojan Krkic and Lionel Messi, Pep Guardiola’s side would have a match that they seemed intent on losing won by half-time.

    The second half was something of a formality, with Messi’s hat-trick goal, a chip of unquestionable brilliance, an undoubted highlight.

    Guardiola will not have forgotten the opening half hour, when his side could easily have lost two or three goals, and will certainly demand better of his defenders on Wednesday.

    FORM GUIDE

    Sevilla

    LOST 2-1 (h) Racing Santander (Liga, January 9)

    WON 2-1 (a) Barcelona (Copa del Rey, January 5)

    LOST 2-1 (a) Atletico Madrid (Liga, January 2)

    LOST 2-1 (h) Getafe (Liga, December 19)

    WON 1-0 (a) Sporting Gijon (Liga, December 13)

    Barcelona

    WON 5-0 (a) Tenerife (Liga, January 10)

    LOST 2-1 (h) Sevilla (Copa del Rey, January 5)

    DREW 1-1 (h) Villarreal (Liga, January 2)

    WON 2-1 aet (n) Estudiantes (Club World Cup, December 19)

    WON 3-1 (n) Atlante (Club World Cup, December 16)

    TEAM NEWS

    Sevilla

    Sebastien Squillaci will be sidelined after undergoing an ankle arthroscopy in Paris with the aim of curing his discomfort. Luis Fabiano is still missing too.

    Didier Zokora, Arouna Kone and Frederic Kanoute are on international duty.

    Otherwise there are no players ruled out, though neither Diego Perotti nor Abdoulay Konko trained on Monday.

    There is better news regarding Jesus Navas and Fernando Navarro, both of whom took part in regular training earlier in the week.

    Probable Starting XI: Palop; Konko, Escude, Dragutinovic, Navarro; Romaric, Duscher; Jesus Navas, Renato, Diego Capel; Negredo

    Barcelona

    Both Yaya Toure and Seydou Keita are on African Cup of Nations duty but there are no serious injury problems to concern the coach, with the standard bumps and bruises being attended to.

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic returns from suspension and, as the scorer of their consolation in the first leg, may well be employed from the outset at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

    Gerard Pique was rested over the weekend and is another man who is available.

    Probable Starting XI: Pinto; Dani Alves, Milito, Pique, Abidal; Xavi, Thiago, Iniesta; Bojan, Ibrahimovic, Pedro

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Sevilla

    Veteran goalkeeper Andres Palop’s goal is likely to come under a barrage of shots on Wednesday night, with Barca intent on turning around their first leg deficit. While he undoubtedly needs plenty of cover from his defence, the 36-year-old, who has been with Sevilla since 2005, will likely see his rearguard breached on a few occasions by the Catalans and will therefore need to be near his best to repel their advances.

    Barcelona

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been starved of action over the course of the last week, reduced to a bench role in the first leg of this Copa del Rey tie and suspended at the weekend. Expect the Swede to come out firing on all cylinders, eager to strike down a Sevilla team who hold a narrow advantage over his team-mates. He found the net against them during his cameo last Tuesday, and it would be a brave punter who decided to back against him doing likewise this time around.

    PREDICTION

    Sevilla’s squad has been stretched by injuries and suspensions, and Wednesday night may well be the time it finally breaks. They’ve been unconvincing at home at the best of times this season, while Barca will be riding high on a wave of confidence following their stunning weekend success. Expect Pep Guardiola’s men to get the goals they need not only to win this game, but also this tie.

    Sevilla 1-3 Barcelona

    Robin Bairner, Goal.com


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