Barcelona’s strong performance against Sevilla was a reassuring end to a turbulent year.
A reminder that the Catalan giants will soon be back on top if they continue to go about things in the right way.
Yes, Sevilla is overachieving this season, and they’ve earned the right to have a moment like this by making savvy decisions over the years, and putting themselves in a position to succeed.
Barcelona can learn from them about how to run a club, and hopefully avoid ever having to go through a year like 2021 again, but they seemed to wake up and realize on Tuesday that they are still the more talented team.
In spite of the awkward and hard to articulate formation, a function of the lingering injury crisis, the Blaugrana were a cohesive unit and took the game to Sevilla from start to finish.
The stormy weather conditions may have contributed to the tactics, but the result was almost a classic Barcelona, calm in possession with a patient build up, knowing that the chances would come.
It didn’t require Gavi’s warrior spirit, or the youthful exuberance of Abde and Ferran Jutgla.
The collective team mechanics were clicking, and Barcelona were able to outperform Sevilla 7 to 1 with shots on goal.
Defensive set pieces, however, continue to be the Achilles heel, and Sevilla took advantage of it with their first real effort in front of goal. As frustrating as this is, you have to believe it can be corrected with proper coaching.
Barcelona did the hard part.
Sevilla played ugly, and were lucky to get so much leniency from the officiating. Two yellow cards really doesn’t tell the story.
Down the stretch, they looked downright frustrated and desperate, certainly not the character of a team competing for a domestic title.
Perhaps it was an inferiority complex, a hard reminder that this window of theirs to compete will be brief, because Xavi’s Barcelona will be fighting their way back to the top in no time.
A towering goal for Ronald Araujo, while Jules Kounde looked small by not keeping his emotions intact.
A dangerous and world class Ousmane Dembele, who came inches from grabbing the game winner with an imperial curving effort, while Sevilla had no equivalent attacking threat.
What Xavi has known all along, while trying to will his players to see it too, is that Barcelona is still Barcelona.
Sevilla is still Sevilla.
And that means something.
In this case, it means that the Blaugrana should have found a way to win the game.
With more than 20 minutes playing with a one man advantage, it was a disappointment not to see them do more.
Indeed, there were close calls, and Sevilla certainly used the dark arts to spoil the party, and maybe it was just the lack of options off the bench.
In the end, though, those feel like excuses.
The truth is there was blood in the water, but Barcelona down the stretch lacked the urgency and killer instinct to get the job done.
This needs to be the next step forward going into 2022.
Turn a good performance against a good team into finding a way to get a result against a good team.
And there will be opportunities with Napoli and Real Madrid waiting on deck.
For Xavi, I say job well done so far. You’ve made it through a very challenging opening chapter, and the team is better off having you as their leader.
We know the Barca legend isn’t satisfied, and won’t be resting on his laurels.
Time to get healthy with players returning from injury, and stronger with a productive transfer window.
This team has what it takes to achieve its goals in the new year.
Against Sevilla, they proved it.