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Barcelona travel to Sevilla for a tough test against one of the best defensive sides in the league this season
Barcelona have not been perfect in terms of their on-field performance this season, but the results have been there and that's really all that matters. Despite defensive problems and injuries, Tito Vilanova's first season is going well though it helps that Real Madrid are struggling in the league so far.
Barca travel to Sevilla to face one of La Liga's best defenses this year. With just two goals conceded so far, Sevilla are tied with Malaga for the best defensive record in the league, but they will be tested by Barcelona's lethal attack. While you could argue that Sevilla's success has come against teams lower down in the table, they do have 1-0 victory over Real Madrid on their resume, so they cannot be taken lightly.
Barca's attack look to be at full strength with Andres Iniesta set to travel after some hamstring issues. Iniesta likely will be on the bench though as there's plenty of depth available to allow Vilanova to avoid risking him. It's at the back where Vilanova will again have to get creative. Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique are out, so the pairing of Alex Song and Javier Mascherano is expected to start again despite up and coming players Marc Bartra and Andreu Fontas being available.
Sevilla will be boosted by the return of Diego Perotti and Jose Antonio Reyes who both have recovered from injuries. Both players participated in a mid-week charity match and should be good to go for Saturday. The key for Sevilla will likely be Jesus Navas against the left side of the Barca defense. Against Madrid, Navas was able to terrorize Sergio Ramos and Marcelo, and the Blaugrana don't have a pairing nearly as adept as that at the moment. Either Jordi Alba or Adriano will be tasked with slowing Navas down and how well they do could be a deciding factor in the match.
Sevilla injuries and suspensions
Barcelona injuries and suspensions
Out: Carles Puyol (knee), Gerard Pique (foot) In Doubt: Andres Iniesta (hamstring)
Puyol and Pique still face a couple weeks out for Barca while Iniesta will be available, but unlikely to play.
Match Date/Time: 9 p.m. local, 4 p.m. ET
Venue: Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, Sevilla, Spain
TV: beIN Sports 1 (U.S.), Sky Sports 4 (U.K.)
For more on Barcelona, check out Barcleona blog Barca Blaugranes.