Barcelona lost its second straight home game in La Liga this season. It was an almost flawless performance by the visitors, with the healthy stars doing their job, but a terrible five-minute stretch led to two goals by Sevilla, from Krohn-Dehli and Iborra. Neymar Jr. even scored a goal for the Catalan giants, but an unlucky afternoon ended with a 2-1 loss for the Blaugrana.
When you lack creative players, why not counter-attack?
Barcelona fielded a lineup full of hard workers, but with very few players with the brains and skills to create special things. So Luis Enrique, predicting a high-pressing and attacking performance from his opponents, told his team to defend well and unleash as much counters as possible, with Neymar Jr. and Luis Suárez relieved of their defensive duties to focus only on wreaking havoc on the Sevillista defense. It worked.
It was the best 45 minutes we saw from Barça this whole season. We didn’t see any goals, but we saw a very focused, hard-working, precise team who knew what to do. Neymar and Suárez were very active and ridiculously close to finding the net, but the ball just didn’t go in. The defense was also smart and able to control Sevilla’s pressure with a good first half from the back-four and returning keeper Claudio Bravo.
At the break, a scoreless draw that felt like a win. Barça just needed goals to confirm a very good performance.
The goals actually came, but it was not from the Blaugrana. Sevilla unleashed a spectacular counter-attack of their own, and a Gameiro cross found Krohn-Dehli wide open in the box, and the Danish midfielder buried home the opening goal. Just five minutes later, Barça lost the ball again, the Rojiblancos transitioned fast, and a good cross from Krohn-Dehli found a wide open Iborra who bagged the second score with a well-placed header. Two-nothing.
Enrique tried to change the game by putting Dani Alves and Sandro in place of Mathieu and Munir, with Sergi Roberto going to the midfield. Neymar started to show up again, but goalkeeper Sergio Rico stopped him three times in one minute with a string of spectacular saves, which instantly turned the Sevilla goal-stopper into one of the main characters on the match.
The Catalans won a golden chance to get their first goal when Trémoulinas stopped a shot with his hand. Neymar stepped up to the spot, and didn’t disappoint, putting theBlaugrana back to the game. Barça tried everything, but all Rojiblancos were in the box blocking every shot.
In the end, Barça fought hard and played well, but lost. That’s the worst part.
Sevilla: Rico; Coke, Andreolli, Kolodziejczak, Trémoulinas (Mariano); N’Zonzi, Krychowiak; Krohn-Dehli, Iborra (Reyes), Vitolo; Gameiro (Llorente)
Goals: Krohn-Dehli (52′), Iborra (57′)
Barcelona: Bravo; Roberto, Piqué, Mathieu (Dani Alves), Alba; Mascherano, Busquets, Rakitic; Munir (Sandro), Suárez, Neymar
Goal: Neymar (74′ p.)