It is not at all doom and gloom in the Camp Nou this season, but there exist moments of joy as well. On and off the pitch Barcelona have been experiencing a tough time, still, under Ronald Koeman, the team tends to regroup and deliver their best.  Last night the Catalans completed the comeback against Sevilla and registered their ninth Copa del Rey Final in the last twelve years.

A week that began with the former president in a police cell and will end with a new president finally in power also delivered the chance for some redemption for Barcelona.

All three candidates were in the box office for the directors at an empty Camp Nou as shouts of joy echoed round at the end, while the players forgot about the exhaustion and cheered loudly.

And for Sevilla, there was just regret.

After the impressive show against Sevilla in La Liga on Saturday –  Koeman opted for the same starting XI featuring three center-backs. It also meant that Pedri, once thought to be out with the injury suffered on Saturday, was deemed healthy enough to play.

Barcelona came out all guns blazing and after a couple of early looks for Ousmane Dembele, the France international broke through by collecting a ball, scrambled away from Jules Kounde – turned full circle around the defender, and then stopped for a few second to script a right-footed shot that took a slight deflection before landing inside the net for a 1-0 Barcelona lead.

It was too tough for Tomas Vaclick to stop.

It was Dembele’s fourth chance of the night, and the first goal Sevilla had conceded in the whole competition.

Sevilla either used a high line of pressure in the Barcelona half to try to force a giveaway or waited to strike on the counter-attack from their own half as the Catalans were in the mood to score their second goal.

Barca could not add to their lead before half-time but put on the kind of performance which, had they been capable of in the first half of the season, would have them sitting top of the table by now.

After a very strong first half, Barcelona reverted back to the slow-developing football that has been plaguing them for much of the season and were unable to penetrate Sevilla’s low block, who planned to block the passing lanes for Lionel Messi.

Koeman’s first change saw the out-of-favour Antoine Griezmann come on for Sergino Dest with a little less than a half-hour to go. That led to the first big scoring opportunity of the second half, with Dembele floating a ball across and Jordi Alba acrobatically hammering a volley off the crossbar.

The intention to search for goals left Barcelona vulnerable at the back, and that approach would prove costly as a Sevilla break ended with Oscar Mingueza obstructing Lucas Ocampos in the Barcelona area, resulting in a penalty.

But Barcelona were rescued by goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who guessed correctly and smothered the spot-kick taken by Ocampos.

Koeman went back to his bench for a spark, as youngster Ilaix replaced Sergio Busquets, while Junior Firpo replaced yellow-carded Mingueza, followed minutes later by Braithwaite and Trincao on for Pedri and Dembele.

Barcelona poured more bodies in the penalty area of Sevilla who had no answer except the plan of holing them off.

Right when it looked like Sevilla would survive, Pique would put on his Superman cape and redirect a Griezmann cross into the net via header to dramatically force extra time with a 2-2 draw on aggregate.

Until Pique’s equalizer, Messi came closest as he saw an effort scrambled off the line by Marcos Acuna, while Jordi Alba crashed a strike against the crossbar.

Fernando had been sent off with a second yellow card in the added time, so not only did Barcelona force the extra session, but they started it with a man advantage.

Five minutes into the extra-time, Alba whipped a dangerous low cross from the left flank into the box where the forward stoops to produce a diving header. Vaclik cannot keep the effort out as it deflected off his legs before crossing the line.

Controversy arose midway through the extra time when Sevilla shouted for a handball on Clement Lenglet in the area, but a check with VAR left the Andalusians empty-handed.

Sevilla never stopped fighting, making for some very nervy moments but in the end, it was Barcelona’s week to celebrate.

In the 2019 quarter-finals, Barca came from behind to beat Sevilla after a 2-0 away defeat in the first leg, thumping the Andalusians 6-1, but two years down the line, the Blaugrana have hit rock bottom and are slowly on their way up.

“We always believed,” Koeman said at full time.

“We never gave up on the Copa. It’s a question of mentality.”

“I, as a coach, can’t ask my team to do more than what I’ve seen tonight. We fought until extra time and it’s incredible. I’m very happy with the team’s work tonight.”

“We deserved to go through. I think we were better over the two legs. We were the best team.”

“It was very important for our confidence,” Koeman said on the win in Seville.”

“The way in which we played there. It was our first game [with 3-5-2]. We tried to play the same game today and we did it.”

“We managed to score three goals and could’ve scored more. You can’t ask for more.”


A great performance with the back against the wall.

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