Barcelona had a bad night in the office on Wednesday in Seville and have a tough deficit to overcome in the Copa del Rey semi-final thanks to a 2-0 loss to Sevilla in the first leg. Barça struggled to attack for 90 minutes and Sevilla had very little trouble staying compact at the back and scoring in key moments to win at home and open up a solid gap ahead of the second leg.
The first half had a slower pace than the last few matches we’ve seen Barça play lately, and both teams looked more interested in stopping each other to avoid conceding a silly early goal. Barça had more possession as usual but really struggled to create, and Lionel Messi was well watched by the Sevilla center-backs and defensive midfielders, and Jordi Alba’s trademark runs were tracked as well.
When they had the ball, the home team was purposeful and dangerous, working the ball from side to side with good intent and counting on unexpected runs to confuse the Barça defense, and that’s how they got their first goal when Jules Koundé made a run from the back, beat Samuel Umtiti to the ball at the edge of the box and found the bottom corner to give Sevilla the lead.
Barça couldn’t create anything after Sevilla scored, and at halftime the Blaugrana needed to play better to get back in the game.
Sevilla’s plan for the second half was pretty clear: give Barça the ball, stay solid at the back and try to kill the game on the counter. The Blaugrana were clearly exhausted and couldn’t string three passes together and never troubled the home team’s defense, except for a Lionel Messi shot that Bono sent away for a corner..
Julen Lopetegui managed the game well, making substitutions to slow the game down and freshen up the team, and the last substitute, Óliver Torres, came on and played a brilliant pass to find Ivan Rakitic all alone inside the box, and the Croatian scored a beautiful goal against his former team to double Barça’s lead.
The Blaugrana tried to get a goal back in the final minutes, but they best they could do was a Messi free-kick that required a solid save by Bono. The final whistle came to end a bad night for Barça, who couldn’t attack or defend properly and lost to a very good Sevilla team. The second leg of the semi-final is in three weeks, and Barça have a tough mountain to climb.
Sevilla: Bono; Vidal, Koundé, D. Carlos, Escudero (Rekik 69’); Jordán (Gudelj 80’), Fernando, Rakitic; Suso (Torres 82’), En-Nesyri (De Jong 69’), Papu Gómez (Munir 69’)
Goals: Koundé (25’), Rakitic (85’)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Firpo, Mingueza, Umtiti (Trincão 90’), Alba; De Jong, Busquets, Pedri (Puig 84’); Dembélé, Messi, Griezmann