Camp Nou might be a fort for Barcelona, but under Julen Lopetegui, Sevilla have evolved into a sturdy unit who can’t be tamed so easily. Either, Barcelona would come out as the winners after a hard-fought battle or they might have to share points against Sevilla – Barca shared points and it was not one of those displays at home, which their followers expected.

Ronald Koeman kept most of his Barcelona playing-XI intact from the previous game as Lionel Messi played as the false 9 and was supported by Antoine Griezmann, Philippe Coutinho, and the 17-year-old sensation Ansu Fati. At the back, Ronald Araujo deputized for the suspended Clement Lenglet, and later on, Sergino Dest debuted and became the first player from the USA to play for Barca.

On the other hand, Sevilla manager Julen Lopetegui started with the attacking trio of Lucas Ocampos, Suso, and Luuk de Jong, with the former Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic starting against the club he left in the summer.

The match started brilliantly with each side scoring a goal in the first ten minutes. The Barcelona defence failed to clear a corner kick and Luuk de Jong pounced on the rebound to give Sevilla the lead in the 8th minute.

However, just two minutes later, a Messi cross towards Fati was intercepted by Jesus Navas, but Coutinho was quicker than everyone else as he finished superbly in the top corner to put Barcelona level.

And that was it – the match lacked the spark and Barca were stranglehold by Sevilla.

In the first half, Barcelona made 5 attacks from the left of the pitch, 7 from the center and 0 from the right side, which made Culés’ eyes turn on Griezmann.

Barca not only suffered creating chances, but Sevilla came much more dangerous as well — especially due to Sevilla’s high pressing which forced Barcelona into mistakes. Fransisco Trincao and Pedri replaced Ansu Fati and Griezmann in the 61st minute of the game.

Koeman once again set hands to the game and decided to bring on Pjanic for Coutinho in the 75th minute of the game. Barça’s latest signing Sergino Dest also came on by replacing Jordi Alba who suffered from an injury. Even though the full-back was bought to play as a right-back, Koeman decided to keep Roberto on the right and Dest was forced to play on the left flank.

Dest produced a spark, but it was never easy for Koeman’s double pivot system to overcome the 4-3-3 midblock of Lopetegui.

Until minute 85, Sevilla’s energy did not drop for a single second. Their pressure ended up winning duels all over the field for them. Near the end of the game, Barcelona managed to dominate the game, but it was too late already to make a difference.

Messi looked lazy at times and lacking in ideas – fired several shots but to no avail. It was not his night at the Nou Camp. The leadership qualities, which you look from the star figure of your side was lacking big time and the more Sevilla pressed, the more Messi melted.

Sergi Roberto had to put up with Ocampos on the night and suffered a lot trying to deal with the Argentine. Sevilla posed a constant threat down the left. His link-up play with Griezmann was non-existent.

Araujo also took responsibility for starting moves, opting most of the time for the long ball into space. One of those passes left Griezmann one-on-one down the right, but Bono collected. Almost scored an own goal when he deflected an effort from Youssef En-Nesyri off the post. Came in for the suspended Lenglet at center-back alongside Pique and did well.

Pique played as a left center-back to make things easier for Araujo. He did not stand out like in the opening two games – had some difficulty getting out of defence due to the pressure of Sevilla.

Until Jordi Alba got injured he was one of the better players on the team –fast, deep, and always providing solutions. Since Koeman joined, he looks like a new player, full of life!

Meanwhile, Frenkie de Jong had a poor game for the Dutchman, who was outplayed in a packed midfield with Sevilla players constantly outnumbering. Was never comfortable on the ball, nor could he take advantage of his power and talent to break lines. Despite everything, he was very close to scoring from a Busquet’s cross.

The partner of de Jong, Sergio Busquets was very irregular, losing balls in awkward areas and finding little going forward – acted in the double pivot with de Jong, but not his best night ever.

The star of the previous two matches Ansu Fati was faced with a player, Navas, who is twice his age. And the sevillista knew how to win the battle thanks to his tactical intelligence. The young forward did not have much joy in the night. Then, again, Antoine Griezmann looked out of confidence and pale at that right-hand side.

But, the little magician from Brazil – Coutinho was different from others.

He is utilizing his role as the central attacking midfielder fully and giving everyone the message, how badly he was wasted during his first stint at Barcelona.

Coutinho showed how good he could be without the ball and his movements did break the resistance of Sevilla. Yet again, he was found linking-up with the midfield, but the midfield remained below-par and failed to take the advantage of Coutinho’s hard work.

Against Navas, he maintained 3.4% possession while Navas had 2.4% and his passing accuracy was 85% against Navas. Ivan Rakitic, Fernando, and Jordan played a key role in Lopetegui’s midblock, but Coutinho was able to outweigh them.


But sadly, the rest of his colleagues at the back, the center of the park, and upfront were not up to the mark.

Facebook Comments