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

A review of Barcelona's somewhat disappointing 2-2 draw with Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

FC Barcelona threw away a commanding lead on Saturday evening to waste one of their most impressive first-half performances of the season and drop two points against Sevilla FC at the Ramon Sánchez Pizjuan. It all started so promisingly; Lionel Messi gave Barcelona the lead with another world-class finish before Neymar doubled our advantage with a sublime free-kick. It all seemed so straight-forward, as if the three points were already secured but Sevilla fought back.

Ever Banega halved the deficit before the interval with an effort from long-range and after an end-to-end second-half, substitute Jose Antonio Reyes helped himself to a smash-and-grab equaliser following a rare error from Gerard Piqué. We probably didn’t deserve to drop points – but we did, and it’s all about how we respond to this setback in midweek against Paris Saint-Germain, and then next weekend when we welcome Valencia CF to the Camp Nou.






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Real Madrid’s early afternoon victory over SD Eibar had piled on the pressure; Barcelona were now just one point clear at the top of La Liga and needed a win at the Ramon Sánchez Pizjuan to regain their cushion as league leaders. The only trouble was, Sevilla have gone 31 matches without a loss at home. As such, it was no great surprise to see Luis Enrique revert to his "gala" starting XI. Jeremy Mathieu, Gerard Piqué and Jordi Alba returned to the backline. Sergio Busquets and Andrés Iniesta rotated back into midfield and Neymar replaced Pedro in attack.

We were going to give this one everything we’d got – would it be enough?


Much was made about Sevilla’s home form in the build-up to this one and deservedly so; whenever a side goes 14 months without a defeat at home, they deserve credit. However, let’s not belittle Barcelona either – the Blaugrana were the last side to win at the Ramon Sánchez Pizjuan and their record against Unai Emery is virtually flawless. If any side could grab a win in Andalusia tonight, it would be FC Barcelona.

As expected, Sevilla started the match with confidence and hoped to catch Barcelona off-guard with an up-tempo start, but Barça cleared the danger and immediately monopolised possession, sterilising the Sevilla attack by simply not allowing them the ball. Unai Emery had probably planned for this eventuality, so his side dropped back and hoped to absorb pressure. The idea was both simple and logical, but the early exchanges indicated that this was going to suit Barcelona right down to the ground.

The tempo of our passing was good, our movement was also promising and there were encouraging signs from both Lionel Messi and Neymar as the duo combined to cause the Sevilla defense a few early problems. Neymar in particular was looking much better than in recent performances; skipping past opposing challenges and finding the target with a few early passes. His understanding and chemistry with Lionel Messi was on full display; and Sevilla didn’t have answer.

Too bad, because their inability to stop Neymar and Messi combining cost them the ultimate price – an opening goal for the Blaugrana scored after just a quarter of an hour at the Ramon Sánchez Pizjuan.

Neymar was the creator, cutting in from the left flank to take on a few Sevilla defender – drawing the attention of the entire Sevilla backline such that Lionel Messi was afforded some space as he ghosted in from the right wing. Needless to say, that was a critical mistake from Sevilla’s left-back Benoit Tremoulinas. By the time Messi received the pass from Neymar, Tremoulinas was out of position and as a consequence, Messi had the time to pick his place, curling the ball into the far corner to gift Barça the lead.

It was a carbon copy of the finish that we witnessed against Almeria, and just as it did on Wednesday, Messi’s goal had handed Barcelona an important lead.

So much for this being a difficult test for our boys.

And let’s not beat around the bush here – it wasn’t because Sevilla are a bad team. No, far from it – it’s because FC Barcelona are very, very good and we don’t say that often enough. We were the ones dictating the tempo. We were the ones dictating Sevilla’s gameplan and we were the ones doing all the damage. This was the work of a truly dominant side, dare I say, the best side in the world?

The team performance was dominant – and when you then factor in the individual quality of the players in our side, well, things started to get ugly for poor Sevilla. Luis Suarez drew a free-kick on the edge of the area, earning Grzegorz Krchowiak a yellow card in the process, and Neymar pulled rank over Lionel Messi to try his luck. The angle favoured his right foot and he backed it up with a sensational finish, lifting the ball over the wall and into the top corner of the net. Sergio Rico stood there, rooted to the spot.

There was nothing neither he, nor his Sevilla teammates could do. They were simply being outclassed.

Then, out of nowhere, Sevilla pulled one back.

To their credit, it was a superb strike from Ever Banega as the Argentine midfielder went for goal from long range. He struck it well, hitting the ball low and with power – too much power from a Blaugrana perspective as Claudio Bravo’s outstretched palms could only push the shot onto the post where a fortuitous bounce ensured that Sevilla grabbed a lifeline before the half-time break. Suddenly, Barcelona’s dominance had been questioned – Sevilla were on the ascendency.

Banega’s presence in midfield might not have been doing them a lot of favours defensively but from an offensive standpoint, he was decisive and at the forefront of everything positive for the hosts. Just moments after halving the deficit, Banega was at it again venturing forward and going for goal, only this time Lionel Messi got his body in the way to make what could have been a crucial block.

Sevilla had found their confidence though and Krychowiak nearly atoned for the foul that led to Barça’s second goal with a headed effort that was cleared in rather panicked fashion by the Barça backline.

Defensively, we were on the ropes a little bit; the solution? Well, venture forward of course! Our primary tactic for the remainder of the half was to feed the ball to Neymar who humiliated Coke with a jaw-dropping nutmeg before drawing a foul on the edge of the area from Nicolas Pareja. It was in an identical position to the one that Neymar buried earlier, only this time Messi went for goal. Sergio Rico pushed the shot over the crossbar in what proved to be the final action of note in an entertaining first-half.

What would the second period have in store for FC Barcelona?


Well, on the basis of our dominant start to the half, it would appear as though goals – and plenty of them – were on our mind. Neymar, Lionel Messi and now Luis Suarez; each member of our star-studded frontline was running riot while there was additional support from the midfield in the form of Andrés Iniesta and Ivan Rakitić. Our desire to retain and recover possession was incredible – some of these things go unnoticed, but there was one instance in which Sevilla attempted to shield the ball out for a throw-in, but Neymar hustled and harried his way around the Sevilla player to not only keep the ball in play, but win possession back.

We were hungry for these three points, far more so than Sevilla at least and it was making the difference. Andrés Iniesta and Luis Suarez each had chances to double our lead on the 50 minute mark, as Iniesta stabbed a one-on-one at Sergio Rico before Suarez uncharacteristically blazed the rebound over the crossbar. It was a great chance to put this game out of sight and Suarez’ reaction said it all – he was furious with himself for wasting the opportunity.

So, while Barcelona were much the better side, this game was still somewhat in the balance and the next goal really was going to be crucial. Barça pushed forward in search of a decisive third and Sevilla tried their luck whenever they could in search of an equaliser. Similar to the tail-end of the first-half, the match was largely an end-to-end affair, albeit with fewer clear-cut chances to show for the action.

Alas, it remained just as enthralling as ever before but as time dragged on, the nerves started to creep into the match. With so much to play for, players started to exaggerate contact when challenged and as a consequence, Sergio Busquets and Gerard Piqué found their way into the book for a couple of fairly innocuous incidents. Clearly, this end-to-end style wasn’t suiting us quite as much as one might have hoped, so Lucho prepped his first substitution in a bid to address that.

Enter Xavi Hernández.

Surprisingly, the man to make way was Neymar, arguably Barcelona’s best performer on the night – and he reacted accordingly, seemingly gesturing angrily at Luis Enrique. These things happen all the time in football, but brace yourself for non-stop tabloid coverage of the incident for the next 72 hours prior to our match with Paris Saint-Germain. Whatever. The most important thing was the three points and having once seemed so comfortable, this match was now going right down to the wire.

We’d taken off our most consistent attacking threat on the night, inviting more pressure and despite Xavi’s introduction, we weren’t really controlling possession much better either. That would prove to be our undoing.

Gerard Piqué’s misplaced pass gifted possession to substitute Jose Antonio Reyes, who initiated a counter-attack with a fine through ball to find Aleix Vidal. The winger returned the favour by reversing the ball into the area and on-hand was Reyes to apply the finish, duly tapping the ball into the back of the net to tie the teams at 2-2.

Remind me, why did we take Neymar off again? Pedro was introduced in a bid to find a winner, but let’s face it, he isn’t Neymar. Barça couldn’t find a winner and one of our better performances was wasted as a result.

Next up, Barça travel to Paris to resume their UEFA Champions League campaign. Until then, Visca el Barça!

Roll Call Info
Total comments 658
Total commenters 54
Commenter list 0nk0, A.J.Khan, Abdul S., Abhishek-Culé, Anders Thomassen, Antonio Moreira, AraibKarim, Artemis11, BDBarca, BarcaBarca, Bingiboy, Born Blaugrana, Bostjan Cernensek, Delano Heerkens, DerkSensei, DevilWithin, Eddie Pundell, FCBMo, FCB_Z8, First_Cule, GabTTT, Harshiv, Inder Methil, Jump., LaSenyera, Lapulga, Maashaw, NamesTroyResideInTheDMV, PG9, Ruy Diaz, SUAD, Sarim097, Som-i-Serem, Sony13, Steven Cordero, Swn.Culé, Tokjee, UnderConstructionCule, ViscaViscaBarca, Willis1984, Yuro_Doosh, Z Ahmad, abdulla0207, avyator, barca4life1273, craig00000, davidvillathelegend, feeya7, hobo_barca, luck-ycoltsfan19, passenger, shirishstha, syredeathtrooper, uday kakoti
Story URLs
# Commenter # Comments
1 Delano Heerkens 85
2 Bostjan Cernensek 61
3 Artemis11 58
4 BarcaBarca 56
5 AraibKarim 48
6 Anders Thomassen 39
7 feeya7 36
8 Lapulga 32
9 Steven Cordero 29
10 luck-ycoltsfan19 25
11 FCBMo 21
12 Bingiboy 20
13 Som-i-Serem 17
14 shirishstha 12
15 syredeathtrooper 10
16 Ruy Diaz 10
17 Sony13 8
18 Tokjee 7
19 avyator 7
20 First_Cule 6
21 Eddie Pundell 6
22 Antonio Moreira 6
23 FCB_Z8 5
24 Harshiv 5
25 barca4life1273 4
26 DerkSensei 4
27 passenger 3
28 Z Ahmad 3
29 Yuro_Doosh 3
30 uday kakoti 3
31 craig00000 2
32 Swn.Culé 2
33 0nk0 2
34 Sarim097 2
35 NamesTroyResideInTheDMV 2
36 hobo_barca 1
37 LaSenyera 1
38 SUAD 1
39 A.J.Khan 1
40 Born Blaugrana 1
41 GabTTT 1
42 DevilWithin 1
43 Willis1984 1
44 BDBarca 1
45 ViscaViscaBarca 1
46 Maashaw 1
47 abdulla0207 1
48 Inder Methil 1
49 PG9 1
50 Jump. 1
51 Abdul S. 1
52 davidvillathelegend 1
53 UnderConstructionCule 1
54 Abhishek-Culé 1

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