Barcelona overcame a poor run of form in LaLiga to beat Sevilla 4-2 in an exciting match at the Camp Nou on Saturday. This win lifts Barcelona on top of the table with 18 points after nine matches.
The win came as a morale booster for Barcelona, who have a tough week ahead that includes a midweek clash in the Champions League against Inter Milan and El Clasico next Sunday. Sevilla, who defeated Real Madrid a couple of weeks ago, came agonizingly short in a crucial match like this.
Phillipe Coutinho opened the scoring for Barcelona in the 2nd minute with a beautiful pass from Lionel Messi. The Argentine doubled the lead in the 20th minute from a superb pass of Luis Suarez.
Barcelona increased their lead when Sevilla goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik brought Suarez down within the box. The Uruguayan made no mistake from the spot. Pablo Sarabia got himself on the score sheet when his sumptuous strike from just outside the box deflected off Clement Lenglet and surged into the back off the net.
Ivan Rakitic also scored against his former team with an exceptional volley right from the edge of the area to put the game beyond Sevilla’s control. However, Luis Muriel reduced the deficit again when his low curler thudded into the net.
One major concern for Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde will be Leo Messi, who injured his right arm and had to be substituted in the 20th minute. Barcelona have some tough fixtures ahead and it needs to be seen how Messi recovers from his injury.
Let us look at the three reasons that made Barcelona the winning team on Saturday:
Ter Stegen leads ‘Team Barcelona’
What happens when you lose World’s Best player on 20th minute in a crucial match like this? Ask any of the Blaugrana players who faced Sevilla, they will answer.
Messi, who was sublime right from the start, had to leave the field in excruciating pain on his right arm after an awkward landing against a clash with Franco Vazquez. Without their talisman, Barcelona looked clueless in the first half. They somehow defended and hadn’t allowed Sevilla to reduce the margin.
The scenario changed in the second half. Barca started to play as a team, and Suarez was seen taking more responsibility in creating chances. Coutinho assisted the Uruguayan and Ousmane Dembele, who replaced Messi, showed some glimpses of his talent.
But one major reason why Barcelona came out unscathed is surely because of Marc Andre Ter Stegen. The German goalkeeper made two double saves to deny Sevilla two certain goals.
First in the 61st minute, when Andre Silva made a pinpoint header towards goal which was saved by Ter Stegen’s stretched hand and he subsequently saved the rebound off Arana. This was before the third goal of Barcelona and the context of the game would’ve changed had Sevilla scored at that time. Ter Stegen did it again in 86th minute when he stopped Sarabia’s powerful shot with his left hand put his body on the line of Ben Yedder’s shot, who pounced the rebound.
The German custodian may not keep a clean sheet, but he is definitely the reason why Barcelona came out with all three points.