La Liga preview: Sevilla get Barcelona on the rebound
By Football News
Barcelona's defeat in the Champions League on Wednesday does not bode well for Sevilla as the Catalan club almost never lose twice in a row.
Sevilla head coach Michel will undoubtedly be wondering what he did to annoy the football gods as he prepares to take his team to Barcelona on Saturday just three days after the La Liga-leaders lost 2-0 away to AC Milan.
Barcelona have only lost consecutive competitive fixtures on two occasions in the past four years and when they were stunned 2-1 by Celtic in the Champions League earlier this season, Tito Vilanova's men smashed Mallorca 4-2 in their next match.
The Catalan club were left frustrated in Milan as they failed to penetrate the home side's defensive formation.
Milan scored twice in the second half through Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari and now hold the upper hand ahead of their Round of 16 second leg versus Barcelona on March 12.
Sevilla head to Camp Nou in decent form in La Liga with three wins and a draw in their past five games, only losing to Real Madrid in that period, which has seen them move up to 10th position in the league standings.
Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic has been crucial to Sevilla's good form, scoring two goals and setting up another three in the past five games.
The match of the weekend could be Real Betis versus Malaga on Sunday with the former still in the hunt for European football next season.
Malaga sit fourth, which would normally give them a Champions League playoff berth, but they will be unable to compete in European football next season due to UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules.
Regardless, Malaga are in good form, despite their 1-0 loss to Porto on Tuesday, and will be a tough challenge for eighth-placed Real Betis.
Betis have plummeted down the table in recent weeks, having not won in five games and need to turn their form around if they are to challenge for a Europa League place.
The weekend's action begins on Friday when Athletic Bilbao host Real Sociedad in a Basque derby, while on Saturday, Mallorca are up against Getafe, Valencia are off to Zaragoza, Deportivo La Coruna face Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano take on Real Valladolid.
On Sunday, second-placed Atletico Madrid welcome Espanyol to the Spanish capital and Celta de Vigo host Granada in a relegation six-pointer.