One week after losing the lead in La Liga for the first time in 59 weeks, FC Barcelona retook their place atop the Spanish league as El Blagurana defeated Sevilla 4-1 on Sunday night.
Sevilla got the scoring started in the 15th minute as good moves from Ivan Rakitić created the play to set up Alberto Moreno whose shot deflected off Marc Bartra and into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead. Alexis Sanchez got the equalizer in the 34th minute off a set piece. The replay showed that Alexis was offside, nevertheless, the goal was given. Just before halftime, Lionel Messi gave Barça the lead. Adriano led the break as he avoided a Sevilla player's slide, moved the ball forward to Pedro who found Messi at the top of the box and D10S slammed a golazo to give Barcelona the lead. What a great counterattack!
In the second half, Messi increased the lead with a beautiful goal thanks to a nice pass from Andres Iniesta on a quick Barça break. Cesc Fabregas ended the game with a nice chip shot golazo, set up by Alexis, for FC Barcelona's fourth and final goal of the night.
Let's get to the Best, Worst, and What We Learned from this game.
The Best: D10S
Lionel Messi was a beast against Sevilla. He had a slow start, but once Sevilla took the lead, Messi knew he had to bring his team back. Leo's set piece cross into the box led to Alexis' equalizer. Messi's first goal was a thing of beauty, aiming for the far post and making the Sevilla goalkeeper stretch to try and stop the shot, but to no avail. Leo's second goal was a signature Messi goal: quick with his feet with a quick shot, just beating the sliding attempts of two defenders trying to block the shot. Messi's celebration on the second goal was an example of Leo's mentality: the ecstasy of scoring a goal, leading your team toward a win.
And people were saying Messi was losing his passion to play football?! Ridiculous! The King shut all critics up with his great play in bad weather, a terrible pitch, and in hostile environment-all the while knowing a win was a must on the night.
Grande Leo! Grande Messi! Grande D10S!
Don Andres Iniesta had a tremendous game as well. And Cesc's chip goal was pure beauty.
The Worst: The Sevilla pitch and Barcelona in the first half
The conditions at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán were terrible. The rain was pouring down, and the pitch was awful. But let's not act like the Sevilla grounds crew did all they could to make the pitch playable. We all know they didn't cut the grass in a few days, nor did they make any attempt to remove the water off the pitch. They wanted to help slow down FC Barcelona.
But not water nor long grass can slow down Leo Messi.
I can't explain what was happening with Barcelona in the first half. They lacked hustle, lacked rhythm, and it felt that they lacked a bit of heart-sorry to say it. Rakitić was solid all game for Sevilla, especially in the first half. He was having his way with the FCB defense. Gerard Pique must still be thinking about that Shakira/Rihanna video because his mind was somewhere else. Marc Bartra made a few mistakes, as well as Martin Montoya. Sloppy play and no hustle in the first half for this defense. They played a bit better in the second half, but there were a few plays where Sevilla had clear, goal-scoring opportunities.
I don't know what can be done to save this Barcelona defense, but the answer may not come until next season with the addition and subtraction of players.
What We Learned: FC Barcelona was good, bad, &
ugly lucky against Sevilla.
In football, you need to have both luck and skill to win. On Sunday, Barça had both, but let's not forget that they were very poor in the first half. Barcelona should also be thankful that Sevilla had such poor finishing on the night as well. Sevilla could have easily had a 2-0 in the first half, as well as a shot at the 2-2 in the second half. Barcelona were lucky, but it's also fair to say that Sevilla simply doesn't have enough skill to finish off a team like Barça.
Don't Sevilla wish they had Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo again.
Barça: Good with Messi and a few others, bad in the first half, and lucky thanks to Sevilla's lack of finishing.
What's Next?: Wednesday at Real Sociedad in Copa del Rey semis
Barcelona will look to secure their place in the Copa del Rey final when they head to San Sebastian to face Real Sociedad in the second leg of their Copa semi-final match-up. Javier Mascherano is expected to start, as well as Sergio Busquets. Cesc Fabregas is also expected to start as he, like Busquets, played only a few minutes against Sevilla.
Xoel's Final Word
On Sunday night, el D10S del fútbol made his presence felt, "walking on water", if you will, and leading Barça in a 4-1 win over Sevilla.
On Sunday night, FC Barcelona reclaimed what was/is rightfully theirs: leaders in La Liga.
Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona