Barca hand advantage to Real Madrid
Barcelona’s trip to Sevilla always looked a really tricky tie and so it proved with Quique Setien’s side unable to score and forced to take home just a point.
The result means Barca extend their lead to three points but will be knocked off the top of the table if Real Madrid beat Real Sociedad on Sunday.
Imanol Alguacil’s side have had a good season but have drawn with Osasuna and been beaten by Alaves since La Liga resumed.
After that fixture the top two will have eight games left to play and Barca have a tough week coming. They host Athletic next and then head to Celta before a clash with Atletico.
Rakitic looked at home at Sevilla
Ivan Rakitic was the man to start in midfield alongside Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal due to Frenkie de Jong’s absence and looked right at home at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan.
The Croatian continues to attract plenty of criticism but he was one of Barca’s brightest performers on Friday night against his former team before running out of steam.
Rakitic continues to insist he wants to see out his contract at the Camp Nou, that runs until the end of next season, but has also admitted it would be a “dream” to play for Sevilla again.
Will this performance encourage Sevilla to splash out on the midfielder this summer?
Braithwaite lost on the left too
Martin Braithwaite deservedly got the nod ahead of Antoine Griezmann for Barcelona but ended up looking just as lost out on the left as the Frenchman has done recently.
Quique Setien explained his decision to start Braithwaite over Griezmann afterwards, saying he wanted the Dane’s pace, but he wasn’t able to trouble the Sevilla defence.
Braithwaite was replaced on the hour by Arthur, while Luis Suarez played the whole 90 minutes despite Setien saying ahead of the game he wasn’t ready to play a whole match.
Barca no better away under Setien
Barcelona’s struggles away from home have been well documented, they’ve won 22 of 45 points on their travels, but are certainly showing no signs of improving under Setien.
The new coach has yet to win a big game on his travels with Barcelona and could have lost again if Sergio Reguilón had shown a bit more composure late on.
His reluctance to use substitutes during the game was also pretty baffling.
Setien only ended up making three and one of those was sending on Riqui Puig in the 88th minute. Why not earlier? Ansu Fati didn’t even make it off the bench.
Barcelona now have eight games left to play and half of those are away. They still have to go to Celta Vigo, Villarreal, Real Valladolid and finish off at Alaves.
Messi finally draws a blank against Sevilla
Lionel Messi headed to Sevilla hoping to net his 700th career goal against the team he has scored against more than any other in La Liga.
Yet it wasn’t to be as Julen Lopetegui’s side finally managed to stop the Barca captain from finding the back of the net for the first time in a long time.
0 - Barcelona have failed to score vs Sevilla at Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán for the first time in 16 games played in all competitions with Lionel Messi on the pitch (W9 D5 L2). Covert#SevillaBarca #SevillaFCBarca #LaLigaSantander pic.twitter.com/ySXZwpRScN— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 19, 2020
They went ‘to the limit’ as Lopetegui had assured they would, defending a Messi free-kick with a six-man wall, Munir lying on the ground behind and a man on the line.
Centre-back Diego Carlos, who has been linked with Barca, also angered Messi with a strong challenge that saw the Argentine jump up and give him a push.
Buena foto que explica la reacción de Messi ante Diego Carlos... pic.twitter.com/dVJ19IL8LR— moisESPN (@moillorens) June 19, 2020
It’s also worth nothing that Messi stayed on and played all 90 minutes once again for the third time in a week. He will have to rested at some point whether he likes it or not.