Barca bid to ex­tend their un­beaten streak to 30 matches at Sevilla

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to Ri­cardo Ber­toni’s dou­ble, his sec­ond an 83rd-minute win­ner. Sevilla would fin­ish eighth that year, So­ciedad sec­ond, one point be­hind Real Madrid.

Barca will al­most cer­tainly not sur­ren­der the league ti­tle if his­tory re­peats it­self this week­end, their 11-point lead over Atletico Madrid surely too wide a gap to close, but they would give up the chance of be­ing the first side to end a 20-team La Liga sea­son un­beaten.

They are now three games away from match­ing So­ciedad’s best ever sin­gle-sea­son streak and two from equalling that same So­ciedad team’s long­est run with­out loss over­all, which amounted to 38 games when in­clud­ing the pre­vi­ous sea­son too.

Af­ter Sevilla, Barcelona play Le­ganes and Va­len­cia at home, Celta Vigo and De­portivo La Coruna away be­fore host­ing Real Madrid on May 6. They then fin­ish at home to Vil­lar­real, away to Le­vante and at home to So­ciedad.

This Sevilla, al­though sixth and set to miss out on Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fi­ca­tion, ar­guably rep­re­sent Barcelona’s big­gest ob­sta­cle in those fi­nal nine fix­tures.

Va­len­cia, who are fourth, and Real, who would cer­tainly revel in scup­per­ing the bid, will of­fer stern tests but both at least come at the Camp Nou. Barcelona have not lost a league game on their own patch in 19 months.

Coach Ernesto Valverde has never at­tached much sig­nif­i­cance to the un­beaten streak, pre­fer­ring to fo­cus his play­ers’ gaze on the ti­tle, but as that prize be­comes in­creas­ingly se­cure, he might see it as a wel­come bonus.

“We’re de­lighted with how things are go­ing and that record says we must be do­ing some­thing right,” Valverde said in Fe­bru­ary.

For his own legacy, it would give him some­thing over Pep Guardi­ola, who over­saw only one league loss in 2009-10 and then 31 games un­de­feated in 2010-11, but never ended a sea­son with a zero in the losses col­umn.

Fa­tigue will cer­tainly be a fac­tor, and pri­or­i­ties too. Barcelona and Sevilla both have an open­ing leg of the Cham­pi­ons League quar­ter­fi­nals to ne­go­ti­ate next week and, with their fates largely set­tled in the league, each may choose to ro­tate.

Sevilla are at home to Bay­ern Mu­nich on Tues­day and Barca host Roma on Wed­nes­day.

Ernesto Valverde has led Barcelona on a 29-match un­beaten run this sea­son. (AFP)

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