Wow! What. A. Performance.
That’s as good as Barca have played this year, and in fact, was arguably their best 90 minutes of the entire 2020/21 campaign.
Sevilla don’t tend to do too well against the Catalans in La Liga it’s true, however, they hadn’t conceded in their last five in the competition, and Barca knew all about their strengths from a couple of weeks ago.
But something felt different from the off on Saturday afternoon.
Hats have to be tipped to Ronald Koeman for getting his formation and tactics spot on. The five-man midfield with Jordi Alba and Sergino Dest as willing runners completely nullified any threat from the wide areas, whilst the consistent high press knocked the hosts out of their stride.
Aside from a 10-minute period towards the end of the match, in the lead up to Messi’s clincher, there was nothing Sevilla did that should worry the Blaugranes ahead of Wednesday.
The difficulty then will be keeping them out, with one goal from the away side probably spelling curtains for cup ambitions.
That said, on another day, Barca could’ve had at least another two or three goals when you consider Dest’s shot off the post, Lenglet’s offside, Messi’s uncharacteristic shot over when well-placed and Alba’s agonising slide that just couldn’t reach the ball.
So maybe it’s the Andalusians that will have to be on their guard again.
Injuries could be an issue. Although Gerard Pique had said in a post-match interview that he was fine and he had come off because of a lack of minutes in his legs, things didn’t look as positive for Ronald Araujo or Pedri.
Both of the youngsters acquitted themselves extremely well again, even if the former was only on the pitch for 15 minutes.
Ditto Ilaix Moriba.
Straight in on Bono with his first contribution, pointing and telling more senior team-mates where to be and who to mark, and then playing that sumptuous assist from Leo... the lack of any sort of fear is what’s most pleasing about this next generation.
There is a naturalness to their play which isn’t forced. Not unlike a young Messi it must be said, and you get the feeling that Leo knows it too.
The magnitude of this result at this point of the season can’t be understated either, and it’s just a shame that Barca couldn’t see out the match against Cadiz as they’d be sitting more than pretty now, even if Atleti have games in hand.
The Madrid derby could be crucial for the Catalans as long as they keep doing their bit, and if Barca play like they did on Saturday, that’s a foregone conclusion.