Barcelona take their unbeaten run to 16 matches against Sevilla on a rainy night at Camp Nou. Barcelona were always the favorites to beat the Andalusian club as they have not enjoyed a favourable away record this season. Sevilla have won only two of their away matches and tonight did not improve that statistic.
Barcelona were still without Rafinha, Dembélé, Turan and Vidal for tonight’s matchup. Sergi Roberto was also out with a hamstring injury and will be out for the next five weeks, while André Gomes will recover from his thigh injury in three. Meanwhile, Sevilla were unable to call on Carriço, Pareja, or Correa. Gabriel Mercado was also missing due to a knock picked up mid-week in the Champions League match against Spartak.
A lot of hype before this match was on Leo Messi who would be marking his 600th match for the Catalan club. The Argentine striker has a great record against Sevilla and has scored more goals against the Whites and Reds than against any other club. However, it was Paco Alcacer stealing all of tomorrow’s headlines. He made his first start for the club since the first match of the season and scored both of Barcelona’s goals.
Barcelona was pressing hard out of the gate. Efforts from Messi, Busquets, Suárez and Rakitic were flying in thick and fast. Once Sevilla was able to catch their breath and get settled into the match, they started to fight back. Muriel kept the Blaugrana on their toes by tackling Umtiti, going head-to-head with Piqué and ultimately shooting just wide. In the 22nd minute, Alcacer made the breakthrough. Taking full advantage of an error by Ecudero, he pounced and was able to slot it coolly past Soria.
Sevilla coach Eduardo Berizzo definitely instilled more focus in his team during the break. In the second half, Muriel had another great chance with his shot going just over the bar. Then the equalizer came in the 59th minute as Piqué failed to clear and Pizarro headed it past Ter Stegen into the top corner of the net. So far in the second half, Sevilla had seemed the better side and the equalizer was deserved.
But, just a few minutes later Barcelona were back on the attack. Piqué fired a shot from range which a helpless Soria gratefully watched bounce off the bar. Then, it was Alcacer who again stepped up for Barça, converting a well-timed cross from Rakitic with 20 minute left in the match.
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Suárez continued his rather sluggish goal scoring form. Although he was positioning himself well and had several chances in the beginning of the match, again the Uruguayan was not able to capitalize. He has scored just three goals this season and is being eclipsed by an in-form Messi who already has 12.
After the match, Valverde compared the inability to score more of the chances to the Champions League draw earlier this week. “It is like against Olympaicos, we had chances, the team dominated and couldn’t win, although I liked the game. This time we had a better result and different analysis. But, Sevilla is a great team and the games are necessary to play them.”
For Sevilla, Berizzo commented, “it was key the time that passed between the equalizer and 2-1. If we had lasted a longer time at 1-1 we would have been able to grab the game to win, but it is a game that makes us stronger.” Berizzo also expressed his content that his team were able to successfully contain Messi.
Ultimately, Sevilla remains in fifth place and will resume after the international break with a home match against Celta Vigo.
Their home form has been good this season so they should come back with a win. On the other hand, Barcelona are now sitting pretty at the top of the table.
The Blaugrana club is just four points above Valencia, but 11 points clear of their rivals Real Madrid. Real Madrid will face Las Palmas tomorrow and likely recover the gap of eight points, but it is clear that Barcelona are enjoying a great start to the season.