x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Barca's foes have a whole lot to play for

There's no question of Sevilla going easy against Barcelona tonight, particularly after a midweek win that pushed them back up to fourth place in the Primera Liga

There's no question of Sevilla going easy against Barcelona tonight, particularly after a midweek win that pushed them back up to fourth place in the Primera Liga at a crucial point of the season. Boasting five wins from their past seven games, Manuel Jiminez is aiming to lead the side into only their third ever Champions League campaign. With 60 points, they hold a single-point advantage over Mallorca, the only other team who can finish fourth. Sevilla hold a further advantage because, in the head-to-head clashes which count above goal difference in Spain, they beat Mallorca convincingly home and away. But, of course, they face Barca tonight.

Mallorca, meanwhile, travel to poor-at-home Deportivo later and are at home to the mid-table team Espanyol in the season's final round of games next week. While a top-six finish and Europa League qualification would still be viewed as a great success, Mallorca have spent more time in fourth than any other position all season and their band of hastily arranged over-achieving players will want to stick around to play the best club sides in world football next season.

Sevilla's final match, meanwhile, is at Andalusian neighbours Almeria, who have nothing to play for. Cynics will no doubt have their suspicions, given that Spain has a long history of questionable results, but Sevilla's biggest challenge is tonight against the Catalans, and Jesus Navas, their star winger, could hardly be more confident. "Relax," he told the Madrid paper Marca in an interview where he was pictured with his hands nonchalantly behind his head. "We're going to win against Barcelona. We want to play in the Champions League again."

sports@thenational.ae