Xavi’s growing Barça, competing to catch Rayo, still lacks the body, talent and time to beat title contenders like Sevilla. And Lopetegui’s team misses its best footballers in his career to catch Madrid and dispute the league title. The lead is now five points behind after defending a 1-1 draw outnumbered by the expulsion of Koundé. Barcelona was not successful in the auction to crown a performance of merit in Nervión. Dembélé’s shot hit the post in Barça’s final outburst before the madness of Sevilla and the happiness of Madrid. The game, in any case, helped the Catalans to increase their self-esteem and deserve the consideration of the greats of the championship such as Sevilla. It is no longer an exercise in propaganda or inbreeding after chaining two good League matches.
Bono, Diego Carlos, Fernando, Rekik, Koundé, Rakitic (Gudelj, min. 69), Joan Jordán, Delaney (Augustinsson, min. 85), Papu Gómez (Juanlu Sanchez, min. 85), Rafa Mir (En-Nesyri, min. 69) and Lucas Ocampos (Valentino Fattore Scotta, min. 91)
Ter Stegen, Ronald Araújo, Eric Garcia (Clement Lenglet, min. 71), Alba, Piqué, Pablo Páez Gavira, Busquets, Frenkie De Jong (Luuk de Jong, min. 84), Ousmane Dembélé, Abdessamad Ezzalzouli and Ferrán Jutglà (Nico González, min. 72)
Goals 1-0 min. 31: Papu Gómez. 1-1 min 44: Ronald Araújo.
Referee Carlos del Cerro Grande
Yellow cards Busquets (min. 10), Delaney (min. 34), Abdessamad Ezzalzouli (min. 72), Pablo Páez Gavira (min. 76) y Juanlu Sanchez (min. 87)
Red cards Koundé (min. 63)
Xavi was so happy with the match against Elche that he repeated the line-up at Pizjuán. The only novelty was the entry of Piqué, sanctioned on Saturday, by Lenglet. The bet is that the rival does not have to condition the Barça plan if it is for the team to gain confidence and credibility, especially in demanding scenarios such as Nervión. The coach may be conditioned by injuries and the regulations that oblige him to discard one of the four youngsters from the subsidiary to keep the seven mandatory first-team cards in accordance with the League regulations. Nico is sacrificed because Jutglà not only has a goal but his movements favor aggressive midfielders like Gavi and Abde has consolidated himself on the left with Xavi.
Attacking with two ends can be a solution to face an opponent lacking in wingers forced to improvise in defense due to the many injuries that Lopetegui’s squad adds. Koundé and Rekik appeared on the sides of Abe and Dembélé and Fernando formed as central with Diego Carlos. There is, however, no more compact team than Sevilla. The physicist also helps him negotiate long matches and, in addition, he is the second best venue in the League after Rayo. On the other hand, he does not have the same ease to attack, deprived of his best forwards, more aware of the rival’s failure, patient and expectant with Barça football. The most dynamic and aggressive was Lopetegui. The coach was overcome by the passivity of his boys, relaxed, erratic at the exit of the ball and subdued by the brave Barça.
The Catalans camped in the division, took the ball, governed the game and, although the shots did not catch the goal, they began to shoot at Bono. Once the pressure line was secured, Barça lacked depth to unbalance Sevilla, a well-made team, more organized and worked, also less naive than Barça, as noted at 1-0. The youngsters were confused in a corner kick and Papu Gómez did not forgive Abde’s inattention after Rakitic’s service. Strategy is an inexhaustible resource for Sevilla and a constant martyrdom for Xavi’s Barça. The tables, however, were turned shortly after and Araujo anticipated Fernando to head a corner thrown by Dembélé at the near post.
The draw sanctioned the speculative game of Seville and rewarded the ambition of Barcelona, more settled on their court from a defense of four and stretched by Dembélé, the most incisive against the diminished Sevilla. Although he could only prepare the game with 13 players, Lopetegui made a call at half-time and his team went on to dominate Barça. Sevillista aggressiveness intimidated the Catalans, who lost their leather and defeated as usual, unable to compete for more than an hour, vulnerable in Nervión.
The Barcelona fans deflate, the lines split and stop playing as a unit, also poorly synchronized in the downpour in Seville. Losses were the best ammunition for both teams until Koundé got unhinged in a charge with Alba and was sent off by Del Cerro Grande for a shot at the Barça side. The script turned in favor of Barça. Xavi kept the proposal validated against Elche: Nico entered and Gavi, already with the laces of his boots untied, went on to play false 9. The numerical superiority even caused the presence of Luuk de Jong. Despite a few shots, there was no way to beat Bono. Accustomed to knowing what is left over, Barça has now seen what it lacks to have the credibility and rennet that Sevilla has to ensure a result that suited Madrid well.
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