Barça stumbled over a great Sergio Rico who maintained Sevilla in the game
34th victory in a row for Barça. 2-1 against a very clever Sevilla as for how they planned the game. A clash full of football and diverse registers. From the transition game of Sevilla, to the Blaugrana domination with an intense game in which the two teams' physical state was put to the test.
Sevilla's danger comes from the break
Luis Enrique imagined a game in which Barça would dominate in the opponent's area, with possession in the opposite part of the pitch and, therefore, much space behind the back of the Blaugrana defence. Mathieu's speed is an asset to neutralise the opponent's transitions. Last Sunday, contested by his fellow countryman Gameiro, and opposed to a team of Sevilla with very clear ideas as for their attacking scheme, the French centre-back had to run a lot backward, covered up by Piqué, very alert to assure cover.
The absence of the Andalousians' best game builder, Ever Banega, deprived Emery from some options to try as for multi-combinations plays. The most reliable strategy for Sevilla was the long passes and the attacking plays with few touches.
Mathieu, Jordi Alba and Aleix Vidal's speed, to close out on the transitions.
Possession and Occupation figures of the first half
Difference in the corner-kicks strategy
2-on-2 in defence. Emery took risks on the corner-kicks for Sevilla. To match the number of Barça's players in their box he left only 2 defenders marking two Barça attackers: Messi and Neymar, waiting for a potential break to use the space in the back of the defence.
On the contrary, Barça found themselves facing a very defensive Sevilla on corner-kicks in favour of Luis Enrique's men. There was only one in the first half and not even Gameiro (main point of reference in Sevilla's attack) did avoid his defensive responsibility. Almost all Sevillan players were in the box, renouncing to an potential break, aware of the Blaugrana force in the air with tall men like Suárez, Piqué or Mathieu.
From one side to another
Piqué scored the winning goal (2-1) in the 48th minute. During the first 10 minutes of the second half Barça suffocated Sevilla and generated many clear chances. The Blaugranas didn't close out the game, Sergio Rico was partly responsible with various saves, and the more the time ran out the closer Sevilla was getting from Bravo's box. The game's scenario went from Barça's domination through possession to succesive attacks back and forth between the two teams. A tired and streched out Barça, incapable of beating Sevilla's goalkeeper for the third time (10 shots on target) and with the pressure of seeing the opponent only one goal away from the draw. Bravo was providential in a crucial play and 34th win in a row for Barça, against a great Sevilla.