The Blaugranas have arguably played their best game of the 2020-2021 season. Goals from Ousmane Dembele and Lionel Messi saw Fc Barcelona seal off a magnificent win away to Sevilla. The Blaugranas had failed to defeat Sevilla at their home ground in the last 5 matches at their home in La Liga. Barca grabbed three previous points which moved them up to 2nd in La Liga. This win will put pressure on League Leaders Atletico Madrid and assert that the Blaugranas are still in contention for La Liga.
Ronald Koeman’s change in tactics and formation proved to be a masterstroke for Barcelona. Which helped them saw out Sevilla which was unbeaten in their last 6 La Liga games. The Blaugranas also ended the record of the Sevilla Goalkeeper Bono who had not conceded in the past 527 minutes in La Liga.
Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman adopted a surprising line-up as the men in Claret and Blue deviated away from their usual 433 to take up a 3142 formation. Antoine Griezmann was once again left on the bench which was a surprise exclusion.
Formation – 3-1-4-2
Goalkeeper – Ter Stegen
Defenders – Oscar Mingueza Gerard Pique Clement Lenglet
Midfielders – Sergio Busquets
Midfielders – Sergino Dest Pedri Frenkie De Jong Jordi Alba
Forwards – Lionel Messi Ousmane Dembele
Sevilla went with their usual 4-2-3-1 Suso and En Neysri were left on the bench which was surprising given how good their form has been.
Formation – 4-2-3-1
Goalkeeper – Bono
Defenders – Jesus Navas Kounde Diego Carlos Escudero
Midfielders – Juan Jordan Fernando
Midfielders – Gomez Ivan Rakitic Munir
Forwards – L. De Jong
Barcelona started the first half by keeping possession with them and trying to create chances whenever and wherever they can. Nothing much happened in the first 20 minutes as both sides held possession and tried testing the other’s defense. Ousmane Dembele had a great chance to put Barcelona up ahead in the 22nd minute but he missed. Seven minutes later, Messi gave a classic messiesque pass as he unlocked the defense. This resulted in a perfect through ball to Ousmane Dembele who ran pass the defense shooting a low shot in between Bono’s legs into the far corner to give Barcelona the lead. Nothing much significant happened in the next few minutes. Fernando was booked for a sloppy challenge on Frenkie De Jong.
Barca had another superb opportunity to double their lead. Dembele made a darting run into the home side’s box before sending a low ball to Messi. Messi slid the ball for Frenkie De Jong who instead of shooting lofted the ball back to Messi but the ball was collected by Bono before Messi could do any damage. Diego Carlos was also booked for a rash tackle on the Blaugrana Captain.
Barcelona again got a golden chance to double their lead. Dest was fed the ball on the right side. He cut behind Escudero and firing a shot but the shot was overpowered and the ball went into the stands. Lionel Messi was booked for a simple foul which didn’t look like a booking worthy foul at all. Barcelona’s defense was rarely tested in the first half and when they were, they came out strong.
Ter Stegen almost committed a mistake towards the end first half as he spilled a loose pass which was picked up by Munir. Sevilla had the golden chance to Equalise but the Blaugrana defense cleared the ball. Overall Barca was the dominant team in the First half both in attack and defense.
Sevilla coach Julien Lopetegui made 3 changes at the start of the Second Half. Diego Carlos was replaced by Kekik, and Suso and En Neysri came on to replace Gomez and Munir respectively. Immediately at the start of the Second Half, Kekik was booked for a foul on Pedri. Barcelona’s defense was tested for the first time in the match as Jesus Navas ran on the right before cutting in and firing a low shot to the near post which was saved by Marc Andre Ter Stegen.
Two minutes later, Barcelona had another chance as Dembele laid the ball on for De Jong on the right who looped it for Messi but the ball is far away from Messi who couldn’t get a touch on it. Again, 6 minutes later, Barcelona had a chance as Jordi Alba made a dashing run on the left side before sending a low ball into the box for Sergino Dest whose shot hit the post.
Barcelona missed another chance as this time Dembele drew Bono out before latching a pass for Messi who fired it over the bar. Sevilla made their final two substitutions as Ivan Rakitic was replaced by Oscar Rodriguez and L. De Jong was replaced by Oliver. At the 65th minute mark, Suso sent a cross into the box from a corner which was met by Escudero who fired it just over the bar. Barcelona defender Gerard Pique was replaced by Ronald Araujo who was back from an injury.
Messi sent an amazing free kickball at the 69th minute to Clement Lenglet who sent it past Bono, but the goal was ruled offside. Barcelona Midfield Star Pedri was brought off at the 71st minute as he got injured. 18-year-old Ilaix Moriba was given the chance to replace him. Barcelona again missed a chance as at the 78th minute. Messi crossed the ball for Lenglet who flicked it up for Jordi Alba who couldn’t score. But this was also ruled out as offside.
Two minutes later, it appeared that Sevilla had equalized as En Neysri fired a shot into the Goal but the goal was disallowed as En Neysri had touched his hand to the ball during the build-up. Ronald Araujo was brought off after just 15 minutes on the pitch as a precautionary measure as it appeared that he picked up an injury. Ousmane Dembele also made way for Braithwaite.
The Blaugrana Captain finally scored at the 85th-minute mark as he played a one-two with moriba before getting away from Fernando into the box. Bono who was rushing spilled the ball and then Messi fired home to double the advantage of Visiting team.
The Blaugranas should be very happy with the result which they got. A wonderful team effort as the usually lackluster Blaugrana defense managed to keep an in-form Sevilla attack at bay and earning themselves a solid three points which moved them up to second place in La Liga standings.
However, the away side should do something about taking all their chances which they couldn’t do in this match. Had they done it, they would’ve got a comfortable 4 to 5 goals and even put the game to the bay in the first half itself. Ronald Koeman would be worried about the injuries to Pedri and Araujo but it’s up to see what happens further.
The Blaugranas were solid in their performance and would be looking to replicate this kind of performance more in the future. Now they look forward to welcoming Sevilla home in the 2nd leg of the Copa Del Rey, hoping to make a comeback in the competition as their race for silverware goes on.
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