Treble aspirants Barcelona endured a shocking defeat against Sevilla in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final but all is not lost. The Camp Nou is set to witness a thriller of a match where one side will bring out all its guns and the other, a mighty defense wall.
The hosts trail 2-0 but this is Barcelona: they have a great track record of successfully coming from behind and bagging a win. The same happened against Levante and the same will, against the Andalusians.
Here are the three things Barcelona must do to win against Sevilla and progress to the last four of the Copa:
Defend against counter-attacks
Sevilla are a counter-attacking team to the core and they have the players to show it. Pablo Machin has created a great roster with speedy players like Jesus Navas, Sergio Escudero and Quincy Promes who can cause problems through the wings, forwards like Andre Silva and Wissam Ben Yedder who are adept in counter-attacking situations, and midfielders like Ever Banega and Pablo Sarabia, the latter performing exceedingly well for the Andausians, not to mention his superb display against Barcelona in the first leg. With a roster this exciting, Sevilla are bound to cause problems and one of the major ways to stop them is to restrict their counter-attacking opportunities. Shielding the midfield to stop long balls near and into the penalty box will restrict forward runs from their attackers and wingers and will scupper their chances of scoring. Moreover, Sevilla are adept at early crosses and if the Barca full-backs ensure their counterparts don’t get opportunities to bend in the ball early, they will restrict Sevilla’s chances of scoring a damaging away goal.
Attack, attack, attack, attack, attack!
Barcelona face a mighty challenge to score more than three against a good defensive lineup. Tomas Vaclik has been superb between the sticks and Sevilla will depend on his heroics. Sevilla are known to lose concentration and concede fouls in dangerous areas which can be taken advantage of courtesy Messi and his exceptional free-kick technique. They are inept in stopping opponents from creating chances and this is where the Barca midfield should shine. Barcelona can attempt defense-splitting through balls more than crosses as Sevilla will use a three-man defense. Attack, attack and attack must be the only mantra for the Blaugranes if they want to win the tie.
Let Messi have his way
Sevilla, like many teams, have been a victim of Messi’s free flowing goals and Barcelona must make sure this man gets the ball. Words fall short of describing a player of his calibre and the man with the armband has a huge responsibility in front of him, but if there is one man who can make something out of nothing, it’s the Argentine maestro. Valverde has been correctly diluting Messi’s playing time by benching the star man whenever apt but that has been unsuccessful for quite some time. Messi has always been a game changer, the difference maker and this is a match to prove once again why he’s called the greatest of all time.