Barca and Sevilla at a crossroads

The early Primera table has Sevilla and Barcelona level on points prior to their meeting at Camp Nou on Sunday and, seven fixtures in, it’s a fixture that already feels like a crossroads for both clubs.

Top of the table with 15 points sit Real Madrid, unbeaten domestically despite their Champions League headaches. Atletico Madrid are in third, a point behind – Granada are the unlikely occupants of second place – and Barca are fourth. Real Sociedad separate sixth-place Sevilla from their weekend hosts.

The top eight places are all tightly constricted. Two good results and defeats for the teams above would put Villarreal in eighth up at the top, with only four points between the Yellow Submarine and Los Blancos. La Liga betting so often focuses on the Madrid clubs and Barca but in the opening months of the campaign, the field is wide open.

Eventually though, the usual suspects will pull away. Madrid had a summer of discord and rancour, a lot of it centring on Gareth Bale’s future, but results on the pitch, in the League at least, have been strong. Barcelona have stuttered – of the top eight teams only Villarreal [11] have conceded more than the Catalans’ 10 – while Atletico will keep on keeping on, getting results through sheer force of will and a dash of brilliance here or there.

For the rest – for Real Sociedad, Sevilla, Athletic Bilbao, Villarreal and yes, Granada – the challenge is turning a promising start into a consistent season. That’s easier said than done. Chances are they’ll all take points off each other, and drop points when playing the Madrid clubs or Barca. Their mettle will be really tested as the calendar moves into October and we get into the bulk of the season.

Sevilla’s first League fixture of the month sends them to Camp Nou, where Barca haven’t so much as dropped a point since the beginning of February – a 2-2 draw with Valencia that saw La Blaugrana come back from two goals down. The last time Los Rojiblancos went to Camp Nou they were trounced 6-1, in a January Copa del Rey encounter. They were there a year ago in La Liga, and lost 4-2.

If this season is to be any different, then, Sevilla need a positive result on Sunday, a result that shows they really are ready to compete. And the same goes for Barca, too. Ernesto Valverde’s side has looked tired, at times, and in need of a facelift. And yet if results this weekend go their way, Barca could be top of the table by Sunday night. Sevilla are one of the hopefuls looking to make La Liga’s gang of three into a foursome. Barca are the old guard out to prevent that happening – and at the same time, to claw themselves back to the summit.