There is a blockbuster match taking place at the Estadio Raman Sanchez-Pizjuan on Saturday night as Sevilla FC host FC Barcelona. The two teams approach this fixture in very different moods, as Julen Lopetegui’s side are still winless after three rounds of the 2022/23 LaLiga Santander season, whereas Xavi’s men have seven points already and just put together a dominant 4-0 performance in last weekend’s win over Real Valladolid.
The cliche ahead of any derby is that recent form is irrelevant and that is also true with this fixture, even if it isn’t a local rivalry. These two clubs may be located at opposite sides of the country, but they always put on a show when they cross paths and that’s why Barça will travel to Seville for this heavyweight clash expecting to receive Sevilla FC’s strongest punch.
Los Nervionenses are especially strong against FC Barcelona when they play in front of their passionate home crowd. Of the past seven meetings in all competitions between these teams at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán, the Catalan club have only won two of them, in addition to two home victories and three draws. That includes a 1-1 draw in this fixture last year, in what was just the sixth LaLiga Santander outing of Xavi’s coaching career.
It was a tight one when they met again at the Camp Nou later last season and it took a beautiful Pedri strike from distance, which was voted FC Barcelona’s goal of the season, to break the deadlock and earn the 1-0 victory on that occasion.
Xavi has options, including Jules Kounde
Since last year’s duels, FC Barcelona have evolved a lot. It has been a busy summer for the Catalan institution, with several star players having been signed, such as Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski, who is joint-top of the scoring charts after bagging four goals from his first three games in LaLiga Santander.
Another summer arrival who could start this match for FC Barcelona is Jules Koundé, who was signed from Sevilla FC. The French defender spent the past three seasons playing under Lopetegui and improved every year. Having helped Sevilla FC win the Europa League title in 2019/20, he became a fan favourite at the club, but now he’ll be on the visiting team as he deals with the famous Nervión atmosphere.
Sevilla FC can keep the ball away from Barca
Lopetegui’s Sevilla FC side always pose a fascinating challenge to FC Barcelona, since they’re one of the best-suited teams at keeping the ball away from the Blaugrana. In each of the Basque tactician’s three seasons in charge, Sevilla FC have sat on the podium for possession stats alongside FC Barcelona and Real Madrid and, so far in 2022/23, the Andalusians have had more possession than anybody in LaLiga Santander, ahead of Barça in second.
When you look at the players in their midfield, that makes perfect sense. With talents like Fernando Reges, Ivan Rakitić, Joan Jordán and Óliver Torres, and with Isco having joined that group in the summer, Sevilla FC are more than capable of keeping the ball on Saturday night. It’ll be interesting to see how Sergio Busquets and co. respond to that challenge.
Although FC Barcelona have looked dominant over the past couple of weeks, playing away at Sevilla FC is one of the toughest away days of the entire season, if not the hardest. With this game following on from Real Madrid vs Real Betis and Real Sociedad vs Atlético de Madrid on Saturday afternoon, LaLiga fans are in for a treat.