Sparkling Sevilla too much for Messi-less Barcelona
Sevilla will take a 2-0 first leg lead to the Camp Nou after a fine performance at the Sánchez Pizjuán in the Copa del Rey. Sarabia and Ben Yedder got the goals in the second half.
Sevilla 2-0 Barcelona: report
Ernesto Valverde made the bold decision to leave Lionel Messi out of his squad and Luis Suárez on the bench as his Barcelona side left themselves with a mountain to climb in the second leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final. Two second half goals for the home side means Barcelona will have to score three to ensure the second leg doesn't go to extra-time next week.
Messi, Suárez, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets were all left out on Wednesday night and Kevin Prince Boateng started not even 48 hours after signing with the club. They took the chance that they either wouldn't be beaten or that they can overturn any result with Messi at the Camp Nou. We will have to wait until next week to find out if that gamble pays off.
Sevilla, who left a couple of their starters out too, were on top after a shaky start. Their confidence perhaps rocked after their fairly turgid display against Real Madrid at the weekend, Sevilla slowly started to get a foothold.
They had a tame penalty appeal turned down when Arturo Vidal's shoulder hit the ball and the ref took it to the VAR lads upstairs. It was rejected.
Malcom had a chance when Arthur put him through and he took it around the keeper before slamming wide but Ben Yedder had the chance of the half when he slammed into Cillessen from close range.
Sevilla kept their foot on the accelerator though as Barcelona slowly started to tire. They got the opener on 58 minutes when Promes sent a ball into the box from the left and Sarabia turned it home.
Coutinho and Suárez were brought off the bench and while that did beef up Barcelona's attack in some instances, their defence was faltering.
The home side hit their second when Andre Silva, a sub for the injured and influential Jesus Navas, slalomed through the middle and played it out to Banega. He drove across goal and while Lenglet was snoozing at the back post, Ben Yedder stole in and poked home with a helpless Piqué and Cillessen looking on.
Barcelona pushed forward but Sevilla remained dangerous on the attack meaning the visitors could never let the reins off completely.
They will have to next week though as they try to salvage their place in the competition in their bid to win it a 31st time.
Sevilla vs Barcelona live online: Copa del Rey updates
Sevilla vs Barcelona live online: preview
It is a repeat of the Copa del Rey final from last year. Sevilla, who have been pushing hard to keep up with Barcelona in LaLiga, have a chance to knock their opponents to the north out of the competition they have won on 30 occasions in the past and four years in a row. They hammered Sevilla last season 5-0 in the decider and knocking them out before the final appears on the horizon would be perfect revenge with kick-off from Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán at 21:30 CET. Easier said that done though.
Sevilla are without Nolito, Maxime Gonalons and Joris Gnagnon for the tie but have all of their big hitters up front. They don't have all of their pride though after being dismantled by Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu at the weekend. They only lost 2-0 but the timidity with which they went down was not a good sign for a team looking to not only battle for a top four spot but potentially muscle their way into the top three. Based on that performance, Pablo Machín will have to improve massively if they want to overcome Barcelona over two legs. Ajax defender and new signing Max Wöber has made the squad list and could get playing time.
Barcelona were without Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets in their squad as they look to rest up their stars for a run at three titles. They don't want to take their eye off the ball though because Sevilla, at home, could build an unassainable lead if Ernesto Valverde is not careful. You could argue, however, that no lead can't be turned around at the Camp Nou. Barcelona are without Ousmane Dembele, Jeison Murillo, Samuel Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen. Their new signing, Kevin Prince Boateng makes the squad, however, as Denis Suárez was cut from the 18-man crew that travelled to Andalucia.