Barcelona made a massive statement in the La Liga title race earlier today with a convincing 2-0 victory against top-four rivals Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium. The Catalan giants are only two points behind Atletico Madrid in the La Liga standings and will be intent on building a streak of victories in the coming weeks.
Sevilla's title credentials have suffered a massive blow as a result of this defeat and Julen Lopetegui will likely redirect his efforts towards a top-four finish. Barcelona were the dominant force in this fixture and were able to dictate terms to a surprisingly under-par Sevilla outfit.
Barcelona created several chances against Sevilla
Barcelona and Sevilla exchanged a few jabs in the opening stages of the match and engaged in an intriguing battle of wits on the pitch. Barcelona's new formation proved effective against Sevilla's tactical set-up and the Catalans did fashion a few chances in the first half-hour.
Barcelona managed to break the deadlock in the first half as Lionel Messi's pinpoint pass found Ousmane Dembele in space and the Frenchman made no mistake with his finish. The first half ended in a series of ill-tempered clashes as both teams vied for dominance.
Barcelona started the second half strongly and Jordi Alba nearly doubled his side's lead after a counter involving Ousmane Dembele and Frenkie de Jong. Sergino Dest was heavily involved in Barcelona's attacks and struck the post with a commendable effort.
Sevilla's poor start to the second half prompted Julen Lopetegui to ring the changes at the hour-mark. The Andalusians improved after the substitutions and gave Barcelona a series of scares.
Lionel Messi was in no mood to sit back and defend, however, and put the game to bed with an excellent goal towards the end of the game. Barcelona were impressive for most of the game and picked up a crucial victory in the context of the La Liga title race.
Sevilla Player Ratings
Yassine Bounou - 5.5/10
Yassine Bounou did his best to prevent Barcelona's first goal but was unable to stop Dembele's pointed finish. The Sevilla shot-stopper could have done better to save Lionel Messi's goal, however, and will want to be back to his best on Wednesday.
Diego Carlos - 5.5/10
Diego Carlos was involved in several tussles with Lionel Messi in the first half and earned himself a yellow card. The Sevilla defender was replaced by Karim Rekik after half-time.
Jules Kounde - 6/10
Jules Kounde did have a few nervous moments against Barcelona but used his pace and agility to catch up with the likes of Dembele. The centre-back played the French winger onside for Barcelona's first goal and will be intent on making amends in the Copa del Rey.
Sergio Escudero - 6.5/10
Sergio Escudero was one of the best Sevilla players on the pitch against Barcelona and did his best to thwart the Catalans' persistent attacks. The left-back picked up a yellow card for one of his feisty tackles and played his heart out on the pitch.
Jesus Navas - 6/10
Jesus Navas did have his troubles against Jordi Alba but was able to hold his own against his compatriot. The Spaniard did have a shot on goal but was not particularly influential throughout the game.
Fernando - 5/10
Fernando had a difficult game against Lionel Messi and found it difficult to track Barcelona's runs in the midfield. The Brazilian midfielder was booked for a series of challenges and was well below his best.
Joan Jordan - 6/10
Joan Jordan made a few important challenges for Sevilla in the midfield and his tenacity helped the Andalusians in the first half. The midfielder was visibly tired towards the end of the game and received a yellow card for a challenge on Lionel Messi.
Ivan Rakitic - 5/10
The former Barcelona midfielder was mediocre for Sevilla and struggled to come to terms with the Catalans' fluid movement. Ivan Rakitic was unable to thwart Messi and De Jong and was taken off at the hour-mark.
Alejandro Gomez - 4/10
Alejandro Gomez was virtually invisible for most of his time on the pitch and was unable to exert his creative influence against Barcelona. Sevilla's newly-signed maestro did not make much of an impact and was taken off in the second half.
Munir El Haddadi - 6/10
Munir El Haddadi put in a good shift against his former club and often won the ball back in dangerous positions for Sevilla. The forward did not threaten Barcelona's goal, however, and was unable to complete the match.
Luuk de Jong - 5/10
Luuk de Jong did not have a good game against Barcelona and was not able to influence proceedings during his time on the field. The Sevilla striker was offside on several occasions and was ineffective against the Catalan defence.
Karim Rekik - 5.5/10
Karim Rekik replaced Diego Carlos in the second half and had several moments of uncertainty against Barcelona's forwards. The defender was one of several Sevilla players to be booked in today's game.
Oscar Rodriguez - 6.5/10
Oscar Rodriguez made an immediate impact after his introduction and troubled Barcelona with his guile in the final third. The midfielder was creative with his passing but was unable to produce a final product.
Youssef En-Nesyri - 7/10
Youssef En-Nesyri tormented Barcelona's defence during his time on the pitch and is set to start in Sevilla's Copa del Rey fixture. The powerful striker found the back of the net but his goal was ruled out for a handball during the build-up.
Oliver Torres - 6/10
Oliver Torres improved Sevilla's gameplay after his introduction in the second half but was unable to threaten Barcelona's goal.
Suso - 6/10
Suso was brought on to add a cutting edge to Sevilla's attacking play but did not create chances of note for his side in the final third.
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