Barcelona was back on Sunday night to take on Sevilla. The club from Andalusia normally remains near the top 6. But they are having a very disappointing campaign so far.
With Madrid losing earlier, it was the perfect chance for Barca to increase their point advantage at the top of La Liga. A struggling Sevilla was a good opponent for Barca to do just that, but work remained to be done.
How did the action all pan out?
The first half was dominated by Barca, well at least in terms of possession.
With Sevilla holding such a low defensive block, it took Barca some time to break down Sevilla’s defenses to find clear cut chances.
Xavi’s teams have usually had problems with low blocks. Their quick touch passing and wing heavy play becomes almost useless against such overwhelming defensive numbers.
But luckily for Barca, they found some chances early on, only for those chances to be snuffed out by Bono, who saved Sevilla from absolute disaster in the first half.
As the first half went on, Barca found themselves generally becoming frustrated with Sevilla’s low block, which continued to hold strong even as the half came to an end.
There wasn’t many clinical chances being created, and that couldn’t remain the case as the second half began.
Luckily for Barca though, things changed in the second half, and in a big, big way.
The second half is when Barca began to unlock Sevilla’s solid defensive structure.
They found more lobbed passes into Sevilla’s penalty area and the runners were beginning to make smarter decisions with those passes.
The results didn’t ride on their side initially, but after some time, the door to the safe slowly began to creak its way open. The first breakthrough came just after the 56th minute, with two new Barca players and a longtime legend combining to create a spectacular goal creating sequence.
Raphinha, Kessie, Alba create wondergoal
This sequence was the best of the night, with Kessie and Raphinha standing out as the heavy contributors aside from the eventual goal scorer.
After a pretty ball into the penalty area by Andreas Christensen, Raphinha got his foot on the ball and immediately picked out Franck Kessie.
Kessie then stayed patient, waited for the runner on the left flank, and tipped a gorgeous toe flick through Sevilla’s defense and into the path on Jordi Alba.
Alba then squared himself, picked out the far right corner, and slotted home a very good finish.
It was the breakthrough Barca had been waiting for, and frankly, it was way overdue.
But Barca wasn’t done yet, as they netted home two more goals to put this game away for good later on,
Raphinha and Gavi combine to add Barca’s second
This time, it was Raphinha who initiated the action and gave Barca’s eventual second goal.
The Brazilian received a ball on his normal right flank, before controlling it and firing a pretty looking curling pass to the far post. The pass whizzed across the face of goal, past everyone that had a shot at clearing it, before falling into the wheelhouse of Gavi.
All Gavi had to do was tap it home. And that he did, giving Barca an important 2-0 lead late in the second half.
These goals might not seem so important, but for a Barca squad that has struggled to add on to 1-0 leads recently, this was a positive, positive sign.
Barca wasn’t done yet though, as they wanted a third goal to give Barca fans something to really walk away happy with. And they got it courtesy of a very familiar face, one that was heavily involved in all of Barca’s action in the second half.
Raphinha cements his excellent night
Barca’s third goal was a rather straightforward one.
Frenkie De Jong lofted a good ball into the pocket of Gavi, who then took a few steps before firing a pass across goal for Raphinha.
Raphinha then simply tapped in the goal, which gave Barca another goal, but also gave Raphinha another performance to build confidence on.
It wasn’t the most spectacular goal, but it had its uses in more ways than one.
After this goal, Barca cruised to the end of full time, and in part won another crucial La Liga match. This win gave them more breathing room atop the league table, as the win put Barca 8 points clear of Real Madrid, who lost to Mallorca earlier in the day.
Once again, Barca found their footing during the most crucial period of the match, which was the second half.
The first half was frustrating. Barca tried to prod their way through Sevilla’s low block and find the goal they deserved. But Kudos to Xavi’s team. hey stuck with it, stayed patient, and found the channels to begin racking up the goals.
A pretty good display of composure and maturity from a rather young Barca squad.
Here’s to hoping they can sustain their rhythm over the course of February and March, because those fixtures will provide Barca their biggest test of the year no doubt, aside from their daunting October trek that ended in Champions League heartbreak.
Barca’s next match
Barca’s next match will be next Sunday against Villareal. This match will be away from the Camp Nou, at the raucous Estadio de la Cerámica.
See you all then!