Barcelona played a listless first half against Sevilla. Sure, they had an early chance, but after that, they were overrun. Clearly missing Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba, and Andrés Iniesta, Barcelona were dominated in midfield. Their defending looked desperate if not shoddy. And the magic trio upfront failed to connect.
Neymar and Luis Suárez couldn't combine, Sevilla countered, a long pass cut Barcelona open, Sergi Roberto missed a clearance, and Vitolo carefully put the ball past Marc-André Ter Stegen. It was a failure from top to bottom, and Sevilla weren't done.
Barcelona were on the ropes and were it not for some kind finishing and some last-ditch bits of defensive work, Sevilla would have had their second. You could have excused the Blaugrana for wishing the half simply be over so they could come into the dressing room and regroup.
Instead, Lionel Messi picked the ball up at midfield and fed Denis Suárez, who advanced the ball to Neymar. The Brazilian juked and dribbled and returned the ball for the onrushing Messi. His shot was delicately placed despite originating from outside the box, and it was 1-1 going into halftime.
And after that, Barcelona dominated the second half, Luis Suárez scoring from a Messi assist, and it could have been more. Barcelona won 2-1, the third time in a row they win by a single goal. They're in second place, but they're hot on the heels of leaders Real Madrid: just two points behind, they only need Los Blancos to slip once, and they will be at least level on points if they continue to win.
After a scrappy 1-0 win over Granda, courtesy of Rafinha, and a thrilling, dramatic 3-2 win over Valencia away, with Lionel Messi scoring a brace, including a penalty with the last kick of the game, and of course, this match... Barcelona have added a crucial 9 points.
And now, the schedule may be shifting in Barcelona's favor. Real Madrid's next fixtures in the league are: Atletico Madrid (away), Sporting Gijon (home), Barcelona (away), Deportivo (home), Valencia (away), Granda (home), and Sevilla (away)
The corresponding fixtures for Barcelona are: Malaga (home), Real Sociedad (away), Real Madrid (home), Osasuna (away), Espanyol (home), Villarreal (away), and Las Palmas (home).
Now there are some difficult games in that run, especially the trip to the Anoeta, the Clasico, and the away match to red-hot Villarreal. But it seems, on paper, like Barcelona could potentially make up those two points, and possibly more, in that run.
You never know, of course, and even the "easy" fixtures can turn into real battles. But for the moment, Barcelona have kept the plane steady navigating through turbulence. It's relatively clear skies ahead.