Rivaldo Exclusive: Barcelona v Sevilla - Match Preview
Keep winning against a respectable opponent
Sevilla always cause problems for the big teams and, at Camp Nou, I expect they'll play defensively and try to stop Barcelona. They'd be happy to earn a valuable point against their strong opponents but it won't be easy, as Barcelona are playing well. They've adapted to Ernesto Valverde's new system, especially at the back where they are producing solid performances and have conceded just four goals in 14 matches in La Liga and the Champions League.
The quality of Barca's attack has never been in doubt but Valverde was wise to tighten up at the back. If they don't concede then they'll end up winning almost every match because, up front, they have many players who are capable of creating goals at any moment.
Messi/Paulinho combination is working well
Lionel Messi continues to be the key man, scoring and assisting many goals already this early season. But the recently signed Paulinho is playing an important role too. He's scored three goals so far, some of them in important matches. The Brazilian midfielder is a good player with nice passing skills and the ability to run into scoring positions. He is justifying the board's confidence in signing him.
On the other hand, Luis Suárez has made a quiet start of season with few goals, but I think this is going to change soon. I expect the Uruguayan to improve and start scoring important goals soon, just like in previous seasons.
Great work by Valverde
Apart from the already mentioned defensive improvements, Valverde has also coped well with the loss of Neymar. The Brazilian was a pivotal player for Barca last season and his absence this year could have been a real problem for Barca. But Valverde has managed to make the team more cohesive. As I often say, the players come and go, but Barcelona always remains strong. So far this season, Barcelona have not only successfully overcome the departure of the third best player in the world in 2017, but also improved their results.
At the moment, they comfortably lead La Liga and are in a commanding position in their Champions League group. You could argue that Barcelona's attack isn't producing the kind of magnificent shows of recent years but I believe they'll end up doing it later in the season when the confidence increases. Believe me, the fans are going to celebrate a lot of beautiful goals this season.
Barcelona vs Sevilla: Score Prediction
Sevilla should try to defend nicely at Camp Nou, but that approach rarely works against teams like Barcelona, filled with individual talent in every position of the field. The visitors could hold out for a while but Barcelona will eventually score, forcing Sevilla to open up the game. They will concede more space at the back which should give more opportunities to Barcelona to extend their lead.
For that reason, I'm predicting a 3-0 victory for Barcelona. That will continue their this fantastic start to La Liga. I believe they have a good opportunity to bring the most important trophy in Spanish football back to Catalonia.
Recommended Bet: Barcelona to beat Sevilla 3-0 @ 11.010/1