The passion for football always outweighs everything and it was no different last night.

Despite the restrictions for COVID-19, Sevilla fans looked to do their utmost to motivate their team ahead of Wednesday’s Copa del Rey semi-final first leg against Barcelona.

The exhibition of love by the Sevilla fans amid the COVID-19 Pandemic could not be appreciated, but when the passion is so high, what could one do!

A hundred or so Sevilla supporters gathered outside the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium to welcome their team to the stadium for the game.

The fans welcomed the squad with flags, banners, and flares, generating an atmosphere that hasn’t been seen for quite a while.

Sevilla did not frustrate their fans rather tamed Lionel Messi and Barcelona.

Ronald Koeman included Junior Firpo into the back-line instead of Clement Lenglet, while Sergio Busquets, Pedri, and Frenkie de Jong were tasked as the midfield support for the preferred attacking trio of Messi, Antoine Griezmann, and Ousmane Dembele.

Barcelona threatened at first through a perfect weight pass from Griezmann that floated into Messi, but Bono came up big to deny him.

That was followed by the first scoring opportunity for the hosts, with Kounde swinging a shot wide.

But the second effort of Kounde was right on target, as the French defender swiveled and swerved his way through the Barcelona defence, putting Samuel Umtiti through the rinse cycle before firing into the net for a 1-0 Sevilla lead.

The momentum of the game swung in favour of Sevilla who asserted more control. Apart from marshaling the game in the midfield, they maintained the shape of the defence which kept the Barca attackers on the check.

Youssef En-Nesyri was next to have a go at getting a second goal early in the second half when he slipped past Oscar Mingueza, but a last-ditch tackle from Umtiti snuffed out the chance.

Messi tried to take over and make his impact felt – if not for a fingertip save from Bono, it would have been level before the hour mark.

Koeman finally made his first substitution in the final 10 minutes with Riqui Puig on for an ineffective Pedri, but Sevilla were the team to strike next when Rakitic got behind the slipping Umtiti and the finished for aplomb past Ter Stegen to make it 2-0.

Messi had one final look at a goal in the waning minutes via free-kick, but for the third time on the night, he was denied by a stretch save from Bono, capping a memorable night for Sevilla.

Frankie de Jong was attentive and switched on, and he did look to cause Sevilla problems. Dembele linked-up well with Fripo and showed a lot of desire, but things didn’t quite work for him.

Messi had a better outing, but again, he was seen showing his dirty works which the referee and VAR did not notice. Neither referee was in action for the foul on Jordi Alba.

But the man who had a nightmare was Umtiti.

His defensive shortcomings proved handy.

Samuel Umtiti came into the starting line-up alongside Oscar Mingueza at center-back, but it was not the Frenchman’s finest night as he was involved in both of Sevilla’s goals.

Afterward, Koeman confirmed that he opted for Umtiti over the healthy Clement Lenglet.

“He had no physical problems,” Koeman said on Lenglet.

“It was a decision to play with Umtiti and Mingueza because there are a lot of games. There are not many people at the back, and you have to have all the players available.”

“We left a lot of space in the first goal, not only in defence, but also in the middle of the pitch. And in the second we weren’t good at setting the offside trap.”

“Umtiti was good in the game. He made mistakes, like everyone else. It’s part of football. It’s not fair to go after him. We all lose and we all win.”

Barcelona’s defensive problems continue to weigh heavily on them despite the recent rosy times.

It is needed to be fixed.

 

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