Barcelona reignited their title hopes after Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele scored in a 2-Zero victory over Sevilla on Saturday to place them two factors behind Atletico Madrid. Atletico nonetheless have two video games in hand, the primary of these coming towards sixth-placed Villarreal on Sunday, however a dip in kind from La Liga’s leaders has given their chasing rivals hope. Barca regarded useless and buried a couple of weeks in the past however this was their ninth win out of 10 in La Liga, a surge that has put them again in competition, with Atletico taking part in towards Actual Madrid subsequent weekend.
Sevilla began the day as arguably the shape workforce on the prime, having gained all of their final six league video games, the final 5 of these with out conceding a purpose.
However they have been second finest on the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, a dominant efficiency from Barcelona exposing them nonetheless as barely in need of Spain’s prime three.
It additionally creates an intriguing back-drop to Wednesday’s Copa del Rey semi-final second leg when these two groups meet once more, with Barca hoping to overturn a 2-Zero deficit at Camp Nou.
Pedri and Ronald Araujo may very well be doubts after each have been substituted within the second half with what regarded like harm issues.
Coach Ronald Koeman might effectively stick together with his new 3-5-2 system, which noticed Jordi Alba and Sergino Dest taking part in as wing-backs forward of a again three and Dembele deployed up entrance alongside Messi.
With out Antoine Griezmann, who dropped to the bench, Koeman sacrificed some creativity within the ultimate third for management by way of the center, to not point out the specter of Dembele in behind.
Actually for the perfect a part of an hour Sevilla struggled to flee Barcelona’s press or set up any sustained stress, even after Julen Lopetegui launched three substitutes at half-time and switched formation to match their opponents.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen was handed match to play by the workforce physician regardless of hurting his proper thumb within the warm-up and in reality it was hardly examined within the first half.
Barca managed the sport and whereas Alba and Dest by no means actually superior as a lot as Koeman may need appreciated, Frenkie de Jong and Pedri have been a continuing risk by way of the center, with the speedy Dembele simply in entrance.
Possibilities, although, have been few and much between and it took a counter-attack for Barcelona to take the lead.
Fernando gave the ball away cheaply up entrance and two passes have been sufficient, Messi curling the decisive one by way of for Dembele to race clear and end.
Lopegtegui reacted with three adjustments at half-time and two extra after the hour however even by matching Barcelona’s system, Sevilla struggled to achieve a foothold.
Alba got here up simply in need of De Jong’s cross, Dest slammed towards the publish and Messi blazed over after one other surge from Dembele.
One in every of Lopetegui’s substitutes Youssef En-Nesyri had Sevilla’s finest probability however headed over.
But with out a second purpose, a nervy finale was all the time probably and En-Nesyri discovered the nook on the flip however had the purpose dominated out for a handball, his tussle with Araujo seeing Barca’s defender go off and he booted some chairs over in frustration.
However Sevilla’s push was transient, ended by Messi with six minutes left.
He traded passes with Dembele, nipped inside Diego Carlos and tried to complete with a chip. Bono saved however the ball got here to Messi, one yard out.
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