La Liga preview: Sevilla vs Barcelona probable starting line-ups, live streaming in India and more
A top of the table clash awaits us at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium as FC Barcelona take on third-placed Sevilla.
Since the resumption of the La Liga, the Catalan side have gone on to win both their games against Mallorca and Leganes whereas Sevilla have won one and drawn one in their bid to secure a Champions League spot this season.
On Friday night, all eyes will be on Lionel Messi. The Barcelona talisman is in search of his 700th career goal (for club and country) and has been urged to achieve this feat against Sevilla by manager Quique Setien.
"It would be very good if he did it at a ground like that and against a rival like Sevilla," said the head coach in his pre-match press conference.
Where they stand in the La Liga table
FC Barcelona are at the top of the pile in Spain's top-flight competition with 64 points from 29 matches. With just nine games to go and Real Madrid breathing down their neck, it is imperative for the defending champions to keep on winning as they embark on a string of tricky fixtures.
It is a close race for the remaining two Champions League spots as well with Sevilla currently in third place with 51 points. The Andalusian side are currently unbeaten in their last six league matches and have been a tough side to beat since Julen Lopetegui took charge.
Likely starting line-ups
Sevilla predicted starting XI: Tomas Vaclik, Jesus Navas, Jules Kounde, Diego Carlos, Sergio Reguilón, Fernando, Ever Banega, Joan Jordan, Munir El Haddadi, Luuk de Jong, Lucas Ocampos
FC Barcelona predicted starting XI: Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Sergi Roberto, Ronald Araujo, Clement Lenglet, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong, Arturo Vidal; Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi
Injuries and team news
Centre back Gerard Pique suffered a knock against Leganes and despite not being a serious issue, the Barcelona defender may start this game from the bench. After being rested in the previous match, Frenkie de Jong and Arturo Vidal are expected to return to the starting XI.
Luis Suarez is expected to make his first start after coming off the bench in the team's two matches since the restart whereas Jordi Alba served his suspension in the last game and is now available for selection.
Sevilla manager Julen Lopetegui can bank upon his entire squad for this clash as the hosts face no serious injury concerns as such. Former Barcelona man Munir El Haddadi can be expected to start alongside attackers Luuk de Jong and Lucas Ocampos.
Sevilla vs Barcelona head-to-head
In their last 10 league meetings, Sevilla have won just one of their clashes against FC Barcelona - at their home, in 2015. Overall, the Catalans have won 83 games while Sevilla have triumphed on 36 occasions in their 151 league meetings, with the remaining 32 drawn.
FC Barcelona have won their previous three league meetings against Sevilla which includes a 4-0 win in the reverse fixture at the Camp Nou earlier in the season.
Players to watch out for
Sevilla have been Lionel Messi's favourite side to score against with the Argentinian forward scoring 37 goals against them in all competitions. He has scored in nine of FC Barcelona's last 11 meetings and will be eyeing his 700th career goal against Friday's hosts. Messi scored a hat-trick last season at Sevilla's home ground and also netted a brilliant free-kick in the home fixture this season.
With 11 goals and 3 assists in La Liga so far this campaign, Lucas Ocampos has been a consistent performer for Sevilla this season. In their 2-0 win over city rivals Real Betis last week, Ocampos scored from the spot and also delivered a stunning assist to set up Fernando.
What they said
Quique Setien: “The players will decide and let me know to rotate them, although I will decide when they should play.”
Julen Lopetegui: “FC Barcelona are a great team. They also have Messi. We'll push everything to the limit to stop Messi and his teammates.”
Where to watch Sevilla vs Barcelona
The match will kick off at 1:30 am IST in India and will be streamed live on the official La Liga Facebook page.