La Liga: Sevilla FC 2-3 FC Barcelona: Match Review

Jasper Juinen - Getty Images

Barcelona left it late, but claimed all three points in an epic encounter with Cesc Fabregas (2) and David Villa getting the goals to extend their 100% record to six games under Tito Vilanova

FC Barcelona engineered a jaw-dropping late comeback to snatch the three points from Sevilla in Saturday night’s late kick-off at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Barcelona started brightly, but fell behind just before the half-hour mark courtesy of a couple of defensive errors (and a fortuitous bounce) which enabled Piotr Trochowski to beat Victor Valdés with a low shot across goal. Alvaro Negredo doubled the host’s lead just after the restart with a cute little chip over Valdés after yet more mistakes from Barcelona’s midfield/defense, but Cesc Fàbregas hit back with a long-range effort on the 53rd minute. Soon after, Gary Medel \saw red for a "headbutt" on the Barca goal-scorer and it was an incident that would totally change the complexion of the game as Tito Vilanova’s side could pile forward in search of that equaliser. They left it late to get that leveller – the 89th minute to be precise – but the important thing is that it did arrive and it was a second for Cesc Fàbregas. As if that wasn’t enough, Barcelona completed the dramatic turnaround in injury-time with David Villa the scorer after great work from Lionel Messi. Six wins from a possible six, a temporary eleven point lead over Real Madrid: I think that constitutes a pretty decent start to the season!

Barcelona

Sevilla

Possession

71%

29%

Total Shots

15

8

Shots on Target

7

3

Pass Accuracy

88%

72%

Fouls

3

15

Offsides

5

4

Yellow Cards

2

2

Red Cards

0

1

Tito Vilanova named the strongest line-up he possibly could, with a couple of changes from last week’s win over Granada. Jordi Alba came in for the injured Adriano, while Xavi replaced Thiago Alcântara in midfield. Offensively, David Villa dropped to the bench with Pedro taking his place in attack. Would Alex Song be able to build upon last week’s encouraging performance and would Barcelona be able to make it 18 points from a possible 18?

Barcelona started the match brightly, moving the ball around at a high tempo and pressing the Sevilla defense where possible. Cesc Fàbregas came close to threading an early pass through on goal, but his effort was under-hit and Sevilla came away unscathed. Pedro then fired over from a tight angle and while his effort didn’t trouble Andrés Palop, it was a signal of intent on Barcelona’s part. The tempo with which they were moving the ball around was utterly astonishing, and Sevilla were finding it hard to keep up. Lionel Messi, Fàbregas and Xavi combined in the centre of the half to play Pedro in down the left, although his low cross was deflected into the grasp of the veteran Palop.

Sevilla contented themselves with sitting back, looking for the opportunity to counter-attack and they tried to do just that through Alvaro Negredo who drifted away from Alex Song with ease to find space for a shot on goal, but unfortunately for the Spanish international, he couldn’t hit the target with his favoured left-foot.

Barcelona were relatively unimpressive in last week’s victory over Granada, but you couldn’t say the same about the early signs from tonight’s performance. Another fabulous high-tempo combination deep in the Sevilla half culminated in a beautiful reverse-pass from Cesc to Messi and the Argentine hit the target with his effort; it was just a shame that no Blaugrana attacker reacted quickly enough to pounce on Palop spilling the ball.

But for all of Barcelona’s brilliant build-up play, it was Sevilla who took the lead on 26 minutes. The initial mistake came courtesy of Alex Song who walked out of defense to try and win the ball in midfield. The only trouble was that he didn’t even get close and Sevilla were away with Gary Medel. The Chilean isn’t renowned for his attacking prowess, but he went for goal, Mascherano made the block and the ball rebounded right to Piotr Trochowski on the left-hand side. With Song still not back in the heart of the defense, Dani Alves was left alone against the German although he really should have done better. Standing off his man, Alves gave Trochowski all the time and space in the world to get a shot away on goal – so he did just that, firing the ball low and hard past Valdés in the Barcelona goal.

Barcelona nearly got an instant reply through Lionel Messi, but his shot was blocked heroically by Hedwiges Maduro and in truth, that was the last shot from Barcelona in the opening half. Their "reply" to the opening goal was almost non-existent, and if anything, Sevilla came closest to finding the score-sheet in the remainder of the first-half. A massive improvement was needed if Barcelona were to extend their 100% record; but surely it couldn’t get any worse?

Well, I’m sure you’ve heard the saying before: it was going to get worse before it got better – so it did. Sergio Busquets dallied in possession and gave the ball away cheaply in the middle of the field in what proved to be the first mistake in Sevilla’s second goal. The second (if we can call it a mistake, the mistake was actually made by whoever signed off on the Song transfer as opposed to an actual centre-half, but I digress) came from Alex Song, who was bought on the premise that he had superior speed and athleticism, but the Cameroonian was utterly dominated by Alvaro Negredo who lifted the ball over Valdés to give Sevilla a two-goal lead. It was a great finish, but Busquets and Song have to share the blame for the goal.

But then, just as the saying goes, it got better as Barcelona actually responded to the two-goal deficit by scoring a goal of their own. It was good work from Messi and Cesc in the build-up although the assist came from Pedro who teed up a shot for Fàbregas, and the Spaniard smashed his effort into the top-corner of the net for his first goal in what seems like eons. And what a time to get it too – 53 minutes on the clock and Barcelona were right back in the game.

Lionel Messi tested Andrés Palop with a well-struck long-range free-kick on the hour-mark, but the veteran did exceptionally well to leap across goal and make the save. Barcelona were knocking on the door, but Sevilla were holding firm. Cristian Tello was brought on in place of Alexis Sanchez and then, out of nowhere, the match was turned completely on its head. There was a break in play after Dani Alves took a knock defending another dangerous Sevilla cross, and the TV company switched away to show a replay. Then, they switched back to the live pictures and the referee had brandished a red card for Gary Medel who had squared up to Cesc Fàbregas off the ball and "headbutted" the former Arsenal man. There wasn’t an awful lot in it, but what was Medel doing to even move towards Cesc? If you think that Fàbregas exaggerated the contact, remember that Medel gifted him the opportunity with his foolish behaviour.

Thiago replaced Sergio Busquets and Geoffrey Kondogbia was brought on for Ivan Rakitic as Michel looked to close out the win, but Barcelona were committing more and more players forward. David Villa came on for Dani Alves as Tito Vilanova switched to a 3-3-4 with a back-line of Alex Song, Javier Mascherano and Jordi Alba. On paper, it was never going to work, but luckily football is not played on paper, it’s played on grass and a certain Lionel Messi is pretty good with the ball at his feet on that field. The match was drawing to a close, but Barcelona finally got their equaliser with Lionel Messi playing Cesc Fàbregas through on goal and the former Arsenal captain tucked home his second of the evening to draw Barcelona level. At this stage, I feel it’s necessary to repeat what I mentioned earlier, this should have never worked – but it did.

The board went up to signal the amount of added-on time: five minutes. Could Barcelona pull off the unthinkable and claim all three points? I’m sure you already know the answer, but it’s worth reinforcing the fact that Barcelona actually won this match. David Villa got the winner with an expertly struck left-footed effort from inside the area after great work from Lionel Messi to provide the pass – with three minutes of regulation time left to play, Barcelona were behind, yet they were ahead when the referee signalled for the final whistle. Quite simply what a finish, and what a morale-boost ahead of a difficult week of football. Benfica must be dreading the midweek trip to the Camp Nou, and if the Blaugrana can secure another victory on Tuesday, they might even have Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid running scared ahead of next Sunday’s Clasico.

For now, let’s not worry about the mistakes in each of the Sevilla goals, we should just sit back and enjoy the eleven-point lead. Who knows, it might just stand heading into next week’s Clasico...

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