Barcelona will look to maintain their perfect start to the La Liga season at the home of another unbeaten side, Sevilla, on Saturday. Not only has coach Tito Vilanova led his side to the top of the table as he begins the unenviable task of replacing Pep Guardiola, but Barcelona also hold a dream eight point lead over rivals Real Madrid.
While that is a strong advantage, Vilanova will be all too aware that, with Real having the ability to go on a mammoth run, Barcelona can’t afford to throw points away.
Barcelona struggled last time out at home to lowly Granada—with the visitors having a good chance to go ahead before Xavi got the vital opener with just three minutes remaining, before an own goal sealed a nervy victory.
The Catalan giants’ problems in defense persist with the continued absence of Carlos Puyol and Gerard Pique meaning that Javier Mascherano and Alex Song will again need to deputize. Andres Iniesta also remains on the sidelines, despite returning to training, while Adriano has failed to recover from a pulled muscle suffered against Granada.
With three wins and two draws Sevilla have made an impressive start to the campaign, highlighted by a 1-0 victory over Real Madrid earlier this month. Particularly notable has been their defensive record that has seen them concede just twice thus far in La Liga.
D: Cicinho, Botia, Spahic, Navarro
M: Medel, Maduro
Navas, Rakitic, Trochowski
D: Alves, Song, Mascherano, Adriano
M: Fabregas, Busquets, Xavi
F: Sanchez, Messi, Pedro
Prediction: Barcelona have been winning without yet hitting the heights of previous seasons. Against a Sevilla side that have looked good so far, particularly at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Vilanova’s side may well drop their first points of the campaign.
Sevilla 1-1 Barcelona
Coverage: The match kicks off at 4 p.m. ET. Coverage will be on beIN Sports, with a live stream, which you view at your own discretion, available here.