The Catalan club entered the international break off the back of a win, albeit over a lowly Almeria side. It was hardly a performance to instil confidence into fans and players alike. Though they began their league campaign impressively under new coach Luis Enrique, October’s 3-1 defeat in El Clasico at the Bernabeu and the subsequent 1-0 home loss to Celta Vigo have led to questions being asked.
Sevilla, on the other hand, are enjoying an excellent run of form, both in La Liga and in Europe, where they top their group in the Europa League. A win this weekend will see them leapfrog the Catalan club to move within touching distance of the league summit, though quite how realistic a prolonged title challenge would be remains to be seen.
The head-to-head statistics favour the home side going into this fixture; Barca have beaten Sevilla on each of their last five attempts. A convincing 4-1 victory in February of last year the last time these sides met saw Lionel Messi add two goals to the scoreline. News, this week, however, that the Argentine might be forced to look beyond the Nou Camp to end his career is bound to unsettle some members of the Blaugrana contingent.
One man who is remaining focussed on the task in hand, however, is former Sevilla defender Adriano. Though he has yet to fully break into Luis Enrique’s first team plans, he is confident that Barca will find their form following an underwhelming 2013/14 campaign under the guidance of Gerardo Martino when they finished second, and three points off Atletico Madrid.
Given his previous tenure at Sevilla, he has warned his current team-mates that come Saturday, they will be facing a well-organised and confident side.
With just two points separating Barca from both Sevilla in fifth and Atletico in fourth, and just a solitary point between themselves and Valencia in third, there is little time for Enrique’s men to adapt to their new manager and the changes he has brought about. Though they no longer have the pressure of Champions League knock-out stage qualification hanging over them, this will be the 12th round of the league season and the momentum must start now. The Blaugrana cannot afford to be left behind the new crop of pretenders to the La Liga crown.