Sevilla vs Barcelona: Three things that will shape the outcome of the La Liga game

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Barcelona travel to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan and one of their toughest assignments of the season.

Hosts Sevilla have turned their home stadium into a fortress and the Andalusians haven't lost there in over a year.

Barca's Ivan Rakitic is sure to get a wonderful reception upon his first return to the club where he made his name, whilst Dani Alves and Adriano Correia also return to their old stamping ground.

Unai Emery's team were undone at Camp Nou earlier in the season, and Lionel Messi's hat-trick in that 5-1 victory saw him installed as the all-time top scorer in La Liga.

Sevilla will be hoping there's no repeat of such a convincing performance from the Catalans.

Let's take a look at three things that will shape the outcome of this one...

Home record

No matter which way you look at it, any team that can stay unbeaten for over a year is obviously doing something right.

Sevilla have hosted all of the big sides and a number of European teams too, and have remained unscathed going into the last weeks of the season.

Although the home side have slipped away from title contention in recent weeks, that is not a reflection on Unai Emery who continues to provide a solid managerial base from his players to work from.

Kevin Gamiero and Carlos Bacca continue to work wonders up front for Emery, whilst Jose Antonio Reyes is enjoying something of a renaissance.

Sergio Rico has played a full part in keeping the opposition from scoring. Conceding just three in his last six games is super form.

Current form

Sevilla have lost one and drawn one of their last 12, and provided entertainment wherever they've played. A loss by the odd goal in a seven-goal thriller illustrates the point perfectly. 

They are good to watch with a manager who is fully attuned to the strengths and weaknesses of his staff, and makes allowances accordingly.

Barcelona have lost won and drawn one in their last 33, winning all of the rest. An astonishing run of form and one which has seen them climb to the summit of La Liga, the collective all coming together at the right time.

Alves must play

It may well be the last time that Dani Alves plays at his former employers, but he must play.

Not for sentimental reasons but because with the effervescent right-back in the side, Barca are an infinitely better and more incisive unit, with Alves playing a full part.

His "replacements;" Martin Montoya and Douglas, really aren't up to the job in hand.

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La Liga
Lionel Messi
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