Sevilla utility Daniel Carrico has warned Barcelona they will have their work cut out at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
La Liga leaders Barcelona will make the trip to Seville on Saturday, with plenty on the line for both teams.
Barcelona are four points clear of archrivals Real Madrid with eight fixtures remaining after routing Almeria 4-0 midweek, while Sevilla sit one point behind Valencia in the race for the fourth and final UEFA Champions League spot, which seals qualification into the play-off round, following their 2-1 win at Levante.
Luis Enrique’s Barca have registered six successive away victories in the league this season, while they have only tasted defeat twice in total – against Real Sociedad and Real.
Carrico acknowledges beating Barca will be an uphill task but the Portuguese is counting on Sevilla’s home form to help the club over the line, with the UEFA Europa League champions in the midst of a 26-match unbeaten streak in front of their supporters, which stretches back to February last year.
“Beating Barca is very difficult; they’re the league leaders, but people know that whoever comes to the Sanchez Pizjuan won’t have it easy,” Carrico told reporters on Thursday.
“[We will] try to make life difficult for Barca, try to keep a clean sheet and hit them on the break.
“The game on Saturday is complicated but playing in front of your fans always helps a lot.”
Real kick-off round 31 against Eibar on Saturday and the Madrid club are expected to be without a host of big name players.
Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos will miss the match at The Santiago Bernabeu after accumulating five yellow cards for the season during Wednesday’s 2-0 victory at Rayo Vallecano.
Real have decided to appeal Ronaldo’s contentious booking, however, after the Portugal captain was cautioned for simulation.
Gareth Bale is in doubt due to a strained muscle, while Pepe is back training as he steps up his recovery from a hamstring injury.
Number one goalkeeper Iker Casillas will start on the bench, with Keylor Navas to stand in between the posts.
“The coach makes his decisions for the best of the team,” Casillas said.
“This is something that we all accept. The important thing is to win and hope that Barca slip-up. It’s nothing to do with protection.”
Defending champions Atletico Madrid – third in the standings – are also in action on Saturday as they make the trip to Malaga, who are bidding to arrest a three-game winless streak.
A bottom-of-the-table clash between Almeria and Granada, and Celta Vigo versus Rayo complete the Saturday fixtures.
Victor Sanchez del Amo will take charge of his first match when fourth-bottom Deportivo La Coruna travel to Sociedad on Sunday – four days after Victor Fernandez was sacked.
Cellar-dwelling Cordoba entertain Elche, Espanyol clash with Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal tackle Getafe.
Meanwhile, high-flying Valencia face Levante on Monday.
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