Barcelona travelled to Sevilla last night to face their toughest opponent so far of the restart of La Liga. Setien has five changes from the Leganés match. He sent out the following starting XI: Ter Stegen, Alba, Lenglet, Pique, Semedo, Busquets, Rakitic, Vidal, Braithwaite, Suarez and Messi. Barcelona looked to extend their lead at the top with a win or draw.
The first half was intense as Barcelona arguably played their best brand of football all season. From front to back, Barcelona was untouchable in the first half. They continued to dominate possession and create chances. Unfortunately they scored no goals and the first half ended 0-0. Individually, everyone looked great. Messi was a little slow to get into the match. But that was understandable since he logged 180 minutes prior to this match. Setien was spot on with his rotations in the beginning of the match.
The second half was polar opposite. A very sluggish Barcelona took the field in the second half and it almost cost them. Sevilla looked to play on the counter attack. Therefore, it was working well for them as they got into dangerous positions. Fortunately they were unable to provide the finished product. There was not much to say about Barcelona’s second half. Lackluster and dead was the style Setien introduced in the second half. The match ended 0-0, giving Barcelona a 3 point lead atop the table heading into the weekend.
Barcelona could have easily ended this match in the second half if it was for a few things. The first being substitutions. Absolutely terrible decisions were made by Setien in regards to substitutes. Subbing off Braithwaite for Arthur and opting for a 4-4-2 was something Valverde was heavily criticized for. However, Setien did the same thing, causing Barcelona to settle behind the ball instead of attacking. Bringing on Greizmann was a terrible decision. The Frenchman has yet to prove even half his worth in a blaugrana jersey. Unsurprisingly, he did not do much to help his cause here. Additionally, playing time became a key role in today’s match.
Setien stated Suarez was not fit for a full 90 minutes. But he left him on the entire match when he clearly showed fatigue. Messi also has played every minute of every match, which was unnecessary. And it clearly showed today as he was not as involved as he should have been throughout the match. With smarter decisions both prior and through the match, Barcelona could have walked away with 3 points and a 5 point lead atop the table.
Barcelona will return to the Camp Nou on Tuesday to face Athletic Bilbao. Expect Setien to make some changes.