Barcelona finished 2021 on a very positive note thanks to a 1-1 draw away to second-place Sevilla in their final La Liga game of the year. Barça went to one of the toughest stadiums in Spain and competed at a very high level, created the better chances and will be disappointed not to win against a Sevilla side that went down to 10 men early in the second half.
Perhaps the 90-minute battle against Atlético Madrid last weekend took its toll, because Sevilla didn’t look like the team we’ve seen all season. They were slow and wasteful in possession and allowed Barça to dominate the opening 25 minutes, but they showed why they’re the best defense in the league.
The Blaugrana were the better side but couldn’t create any real chances, and a Ousmane Dembélé shot from outside the box was the only effort on target from the visitors in the opening half-hour. Sevilla finally looked alive as we reached the final 15 minutes of the half, and they got a goal with a nice corner-kick routine and a nice finish by Papu Gómez.
Barça responded well to going behind and continued to attack and look for spaces, but it looked as though they would head into halftime as the losing team. But with seconds to go before the final whistle of the half, Dembélé sent a corner into the box and Ronald Araujo flew threw the air to head home a huge equalizer.
At halftime, a highly competitive game was deservedly all square and the second half promised fireworks.
The second half was just as competitive as the first, with both teams fighting for space and some very physical play by the two sides. Sevilla took more of the initiative and had a few dangerous moments on set pieces but never created a real chance, and Barça looked solid at the back while still trying to attack.
With about a half-hour to go, a potential game-changing moment happened when Sevilla’s Jules Koundé snapped and threw the ball at Jordi Alba’s face in front of the referee and was given a straight red. The home team was down to 10 men, and Barça had a real chance to try and find the winner.
Sevilla managed the first 15 minutes without Koundé very well, staying compact at the back and not allowing any spaces to the Barça attack. But the Blaugrana looked more and more dangerous later on, and had a giant chance when Jordi Alba’s perfect cross found the head of Gavi but the youngster missed the target from six yards out.
Barça kept on bringing the pressure, and Dembélé curled a beautiful shot into the inside of the post but the ball somehow stayed out. The visitors kept attacking and had one more moment on a cross from Dembélé that found Luuk De Jong’s head, but his effort was saved by Bono.
The final whistle came to end a fantastic game of football in Seville, and Barça not only earned a valuable point but deserved to win against the second-best team in the league, on the road. To show such personality and fighting spirit is a hugely encouraging sign, and Xavi has already improved this team so much in just 30 days as manager. As we reach the holiday break, Barça fans can be proud of their team for the first time in a long time.
Sevilla: Bono; Koundé, Fernando, Carlos, Rekik; Jordán, Delaney (Augustinsson 86’); Ocampos (Valentino 90+2’), Rakitic (Gudelj 70’), Gómez (Juanlu 86’); Mir (En-Nesyri 70’)
Goal: Gómez (32’)
Red Card: Koundé (64’)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Araujo, Piqué, Eric (Lenglet 73’), Alba; De Jong (L. De Jong 85’), Busquets, Gavi; Dembélé, Jutglà (Nico 73’), Abde
Goal: Araujo (45’)