Barcelona leapfrog Sevilla into second
Barcelona stretched their unbeaten run in La Liga to 14 games with a win over Sevilla but, more importantly, moved second in the table. The Catalans, Atletico and Sevilla are all on 57 points, but Barca have a game in hand on the other two teams.
Xavi’s side weren’t quite as impressive as they have been recently, with the international break coming at completely the wrong time, but still managed to find a way to see off a dogged Sevilla side.
Barcelona now have the longest active unbeaten run in a top-five European league:— Squawka (@Squawka) April 3, 2022
Pedri ended Sevilla's 15-game run with a magical strike. pic.twitter.com/Q7vmx25NI0
Once again Barcelona could, and maybe should, have won by a larger scoreline. The hosts wasted several good chances but were facing La Liga’s best defense that had conceded just 19 times in 29 matches ahead of the game.
It’s also worth noting that Sevilla had also come into this match on a run of 15 games unbeaten. That’s the club’s best unbeaten run in top-flight history.
As the match wore on you got the feeling it was going to take something special to win the game and so it proved. Once again it was Pedri who came up with the moment of magic, netting another golazo to maintain the team’s charge in 2022.
Pedri takes Xavi’s advice
The sight of Pedri scoring was a welcome one, particularly as the 19-year-old had had another good chance earlier in the game but had opted to pass when he could have gone for goal himself.
Pedri’s latest strike was his first from outside the box, his third of the season, and his second in his last seven La Liga games. A definite improvement as highlighted by Opta.
2 - @FCBarcelona's Pedri has scored two goals in his last seven @LaLigaEN games, as many as in his previous 34 games in the competition. He has scored his first ever goal from outside the box for the Catalonian side. Magic. pic.twitter.com/yZkGgPbyKY— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 3, 2022
There’s no doubt that Pedri has taken Xavi’s advice to shoot more often. The coach spoke about the teenager after the game and admitted he has been urging Pedri to go for goal.
“I encourage him to shoot more. But he’s a passer. He’s thinking about the next pass, the final pass, the decisive pass,” he said. “I was a little bit the same. He doesn’t realise sometimes you have to try your luck, because he’s got a good shot on him. And he scored a great goal today.”
Pedri’s already one of the most exciting talents in the world, but if he can add goals to his game then there really will be no stopping the teenager.
Barca make it a hat-trick of clean sheets
Barcelona’s defense also deserves credit for picking up another clean sheet. The team’s vulnerable backline has been an issue over the last few seasons but is looking far more reliable under Xavi currently.
Gerard Pique is having himself a fine season at the grand old age of 35, while Ronald Araujo continues to show why is is such a vital presence. Another dominant performance against Sevilla helped Barca keep their third clean sheet in a row.
3 - @FCBarcelona have kept a clean sheet in three consecutive @LaLigaEN games at Camp Nou (W3) for the first time since a run of 4 between February and June in 2020 (W4). Effect. pic.twitter.com/9TYlf5ZOkG— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 3, 2022
Barca being Barca there were still few wobbles. Marc-Andre ter Stegen survived an awful punch late on, Pique was perhaps a little fortunate to only see yellow for stopping a late attack, while Araujo was needed to help out Dani Alves on several occasions.
Yet there’s no doubt Barca are getting better and recovering from their chaotic start. As we head into the final stretch of the season only Real Madrid and Sevilla have a better defensive record than Barcelona in La Liga in 2021-22.
Camp Nou shows Dembele the love
Ousmane Dembele may not have scored against Sevilla but was certainly one of the stars of Sunday’s show. The Frenchman always seems to enjoy playing against Sevilla and caused the visitors problems all night long.
In fact it seemed that most of Barca’s attacks came from Dembele as he gave Karim Rekik and Diego Carlo a tough night. There was also another assist for the winger, although let’s face it Pedri did all the hard work.
In any case, that’s now 10 assists for the season for Dembele, only Karim Benzema (on 11) has more in La Liga.
Ousmane Dembélé’s game by numbers vs Sevilla:— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) April 4, 2022
81% pass accuracy
68 total touches
7 chances created
4 attempted dribbles
3 successful dribbles
4 successful crosses
2 big chances created
2 shots attempted
Another creative Masterclass. pic.twitter.com/jgjq9BET3d
Dembele’s performance thrilled the 76, 112 fans inside the Camp Nou. Only a few weeks ago many supporters were whistling Dembele, but on Sunday they gave him a standing ovation as he left the field late on.
The 24-year-old has turned things around incredibly quickly with some superb performances and not just in attack. The sight of him tracking back and pulling off a slide tackle against Sevilla also raised a huge cheer from the home faithful.
Barca’s best moment of the season?
There’s no doubting that Xavi was a happy man after the match. The coach was spotted celebrating Pedri’s winner wildly on the touchline and said after the game he feels his tam are in their best moment of the season.
“I am a positive person, I believe in hard work, effort, sacrifice and working together. We’re doing well, we’re together, everyone runs, everyone presses. With this base, the results will come,” he said. “We are in the best moment of the season. Today, we dominated a super team, the best in LaLiga defensively. We won 1-0 and it could have been more. Maybe we erred with our decision-making, we should have scored earlier. It was a six-pointer.”
The 4-0 win over Real Madrid last time out will go down as one of the highlights of the campaign but following it up with another victory over Sevilla will increase the sense of optimism around the Camp Nou.
14 - @FCBarcelona (GP14 W10 D4) are the team to be enjoying the best current unbeaten run in the Top 5 European Leagues, including the last six wins, their best run of victories since April 2021 under Ronald Koeman. Cruise#FCB ❤ pic.twitter.com/5t2eZMc56M— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 4, 2022
Barca were ninth in the table on 17 points on when Xavi took over but are now second on 57 points and on the best unbeaten run in Europe. The Xavineta is in full flow.