Barcelona 2-1 Sevilla: match report
Barcelona won all three points at a very wet Camp Nou on Saturday night but failed to convince in doing so in what continues in a trend of strange performance for Ernesto Valverde's side. They could have won the game by another two goals but could, as easily, have seen themselves pick up just one point.
The game started at a frantic pace with Sevilla failing to get up to speed. The hosts had a number of chances early on but it wasn't until the 23rd minute when they opened the scoring thanks to some dreadful defending by the visitors. It came from a long Luis Suárez ball to Paco Alcácer as Sergio Escudero failed to control allowing the Barca striker to pounce and slot under David Soria.
Luis Murial was battling hard up front but remained disconnected from his teammates and isolated when he did win the ball. It was a disjointed display in general from Berizzo's side, who are still yet to find their groove under the Argentinian.
They managed to get themselves back into the game when a corner was sent home off Claudio Pizarro's header as all of Barcelona's dominance looked like it would come to nothing. It wasn't against the run of play per se as Sevilla were only sporadically venturing forward in search of goals.
Just when they had a point to lose, however, Paco Alcácer slotted home a dangerous cross as he managed to squeeze between Soria and Kjaer.
Valverde's men have dropped just two points this season in a draw against Atlético Madrid and are top of the table but they have yet to find the formula that offers them chances at a much bigger clip than what they are creating now.
Sevilla, however, will need to reassess their own strategy as they failed to truly hurt a lethargic Barcelona side, who might have been there for the taking.
Barcelona vs Sevilla live stream online: as it happened
Barcelona vs Sevilla live stream online: preview
Ernesto Valverde’s team face their toughest test so far in LaLiga but will be drooling at the chance to open up an 11-point lead over Real Madrid 24 hours before Las Palmas’ visit the Bernabéu. Sevilla, nine points behind Barça in fifth, will be equally as keen to keep in touch with the front runners and also give the stats a tweak – out of their last 13 visits to Camp Nou, they’ve lost 12 and their last win there was in December 2002...
In spite of their injury concerns, with Sergi Roberto and André Gomes the latest to succumb to fitness problems, Barcelona have been LaLiga’s most consistent side even when their performances have lacked punch. They are the top scorers in the division with 28 goals from 10 games and have been even more impressive at the back. Only Eibar, Atlético de Madrid and Getafe have managed to find the net against the Catalans so far, and the team has kept seven clean sheets. Much of that has been down to Marc-André ter Stegen who is in the form of his life.
Sevilla are slowly taking on board Toto Berizzo’s ideas and are starting to gel as a team. They suffered two humiliating defeats – losing 5-1 to Spartak Moscow in the Champions League then an equally harrowing 4-0 drubbing to Valencia hurt them and raised question marks about the team’s defending. But they seem to have put those defeats behind them now and have won their last three games and even got their own back on Spartak, beating them at the Sánchez Pizjuán midweek. Sevilla may not quite be the dynamic, energetic side of recent seasons but even when they look dormant, they are still capable of being competitive – as they showed against Liverpool back in September. They are not prolific scorers and have underperformed on the road where they have lost three times – all of the defeats they have suffered so far this season.
Not for the first time this season, Valverde will have to cook up an XI from his available players. Sergi Roberto is out for the next five weeks with hamstring tear while André Gomes also damaged his hamstring and will be sidelined for three to four weeks. Andrés Iniesta has not totally been ruled out despite missing the team’s last two games with a muscular sprain. He was given the medical all-clear late on Friday evening and has entered the 18-man squad list, as have Javier Mascherano and Thomas Vermaelen. Long term casualty Ousmane Dembélé is continuing with his recovery process and Arda Turan, who is still recovering from an ankle injury, is the only member of the first team squad who has yet to feature this season.
Man to watch: Leo Messi. It may be obvious, it may be hackneyed but Messi is still the man who has everyone transfixed with those magic moments of wizardry. He has contributed 12 of Barcelona’s 28 league goals and that figure would have been higher if he hadn’t been denied by the woodwork – like he was against Atleti at the Wanda, just over a fortnight ago.
Like their hosts, Sevilla are also balancing their league campaign with midweek Champions League commitments and go into the game with injury concerns. Éver Banega, full-back Gabriel Mercado and Sarabia picked up injuries against Spartak. Mercado is ruled out with a hamstring injury. Banega also has twinges to his hamstring while Sarabia twisted his ankle against the Russians but both figure in Berizzo’s 20-man list for the trip. Nico Pareja, Daniel Carriço, Joaquín Correa and Walter Montoya remain on the injury list but Lionel Carole, Johannes Geis and Borja Lasso also make the cut.
Man to watch: Ben Yedder. Sevilla have needed his firepower this season. The French forward is the team’s most productive scorer with eight goals between both competitions and can also be relied on to turn up and put away any stray balls in the box. Great movement, timing and finishing – Ben Yedder is always lurking and Barça will have done their homework on him.
Barcelona vs Sevilla live stream online: enhanced betting odds
Unsurprisingly, Barça are the big favourites to win this one with odds at 9/1 to win 3-1. Gerard Deulofeu is 4/1 to open the scoring, with Paulinho at 5/1 to hit the last goal of the game. Jesús Navas is at 22/1 to find the net at Camp Nou.