A hard-fought match of two halves at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan ended in a draw after Bojan’s opener was cancelled out by Jesus Navas.
After Real cut the gap to 4 points on Saturday, Barcelona’s blockbuster encounter with Sevilla took on extra precedence.
So it was no surprise that Barcelona named their strongest available line up of Valdes; Alves-Pique-Abidal-Adriano; Xavi-Busquets-Iniesta; Messi-Pedro-Villa.
The first chance came on 8 minutes, when Barcelona gained a free-kick on the edge of the Sevilla box. Xavi, Villa and Messi were over the ball, and the latter was the taker and he found the back of the net.
It would have counted, but the ref called for a foul in Sevilla’s favour. TV replays showed no real foul.
However, after a slow first 15 minutes, the line up had to change as Pedro was replaced by Bojan. Pedro reportedly picked up a knock against Arsenal so clearly it was not too much of a shock to Guardiola and co.
Not much more happened until 30 minutes when Bojan found the break through. He started the move with a pass to Iniesta who picked out the run of Alves with a beautiful pass, before Dani squared it to Bojan who could walk it into the net.
A great goal by a great side.
Sevilla had a penalty shout declined but didn’t create any chance in the first half. Messi hit the bar with a header on 42 minutes but worryingly for all Barca fans stayed down at half time after a clash of knees with Varas. He gingerly walked off the field but it was unsure as to whether he would return after the break.
As it turned out, he did, but so did a completely different Sevilla side. They equalised through Jesus Navas on 49 minutes after great work by substitute Kanoute.
Sevilla pressed and pressed and Barcelona made mistake after mistake at the back. They had numerous chances and make no mistake, could have won this game. So could Barcelona in the first half, but credit to Sevilla and Manzano as they gave us a hell of a second half.
Messi had a couple of great runs in the latter stage of the second half, though his knee was clearly giving him trouble.
Navas had another chance at a winner around 70 minutes but Valdes was equal to his effort. The remaining 20 minutes were end to end, but neither team could find a winner, and that was a fair reflection on the game.
Iniesta hit the bar and then had a shot cleared off the line by Medel so Barca could have won the match, but seemed to suffer after Pedro’s injury, Villa’s poor performance and Messi’s knock.
My man of the match goes to Iniesta who was just phenomenal today, always a threat and nearly giving the team the win, but ultimately, Real are the winners today.