Sevilla vs Barcelona is a fixture that we will witness two times in the space of four days. The season seemed to collapse on 10th February when the Catalans capitulated at the Sanchez Pizjuan, almost throwing away their hopes of a cup win. This time three points in the Top 4 race were at stake.
Sevilla vs Barcelona – the line-up
Ronald Koeman surprised everybody with the choice of formation. Three at the back, three in the midfield, Alba and Dest on the wings, and Messi free-roaming behind Dembele.
Nobody saw such an approach from Barcelona, and Ronald Koeman had his best game since he took over as head coach. Sevilla couldn’t create absolutely anything in the first-half and ultimately, limiting them to only four shots for the whole 90 minutes.
Defensive shape and support
Playing this way, the confidence of Lenglet and Mingueza could build-up, and Pique can recover his full fitness, but also the overall support in that part of the pitch is greater.
In that situation, the ball is played behind Dest, and Mingueza can easily follow the attacker while Pique covers. Coverage easy to achieve with the three-defender model, and certainly way more solid overall.
Another sensible move from Koeman was to leave the midfield three, or at least the personnel. When the ball is out wide, Frenkie De Jong can go on his late runs into the box and be a threat.
Busquets and Pedri can also be themselves, and the idea is to support Messi with runners coming behind him, or Dembele, and later Braithwaite, exploiting the space behind the defense. It completely neutralized the defensive block of Sevilla.Messi constantly arrived in small pockets of space and dictated the game from there. That’s how the first goal was created with a through ball from Messi to Dembele.
Ilaix Moriba contributed off the bench providing an assist for Messi and keeping that extra offensive presence from the midfield. The youngster looks ready to produce some solid performances when called upon for the rest of the season.
Half of the job is done
Sevilla vs Barcelona at the Pizjuan was only a prelude to the monster game in mid-week. Despite the win, all the pressure is back in the Barcelona camp and the necessity of three goals to secure a place in the final, the Catalans have reached the first big “must-win” game of their season.
If we have to make conclusions from Saturday’s game, Barcelona will roll through Sevilla, and they will comfortably await their opponent in the final. However, this season has taught us all that in the moment of truth the team falls short. Hopefully, this time they won’t.