FC SEVILLA 0
Lionel Messi and David Villa combined to crush Sevilla in the Nou Camp last night as Barcelona returned to second place in La Liga.
The highlight for Barcelona fans will have been the performance of summer signing David Villa. After Messi’s opportunistic opener, Villa shaked off his stuttering early season form to add a stunning second goal, cutting in from the right flank and arking a delightful left-footed strike past Javi Varas. The forward enjoyed perhaps his finest performance in a Barcelona shirt this season, finally ressembling the player who was so pivotal to Spain’s success in South Africa. For fans of the Blaugrana, his growing partnership with Messi showed a number of promising signs with the nimble interplay which so characterises the team’s midfield play becoming replicated in attacking areas.
Sevilla, perhaps recalling their Copa del Rey success over Barcelona last season, had initially deployed an ambitious 4-4-2. However, the formation was sufficiently open to allow Messi the space to frequently show off his sublime dribbling skills. As his second goal amply demonstrated, much of the Argentinian’s best work was done dropping into deeper areas where he was able to attack the space between Sevilla’s two lines of four.
The Andalucian’s hopes of getting back into the game were all but extinguished when Abdoulay Konko was sent off shortly before half-time. The right-back had struggled to contend with the lively Pedro but can nevertheless consider himself unfortunate to have been on the end of two yellow cards. It was a helping hand Barcelona scarcely needed as swashbuckling right-back Daniel Alves added a third early in the second-half. The former Sevilla player showed razor-sharp anticipation to latch onto a slack headed pass-back from midfielder Koffi Romaric. It was a typical performance from Alves who, one early chance from Capel aside, was rarely called upon to defend, enabling him to do his best work in the final third of the pitch. He and Messi linked well to overwhelm Sevilla left-back Antonio Luna and were suitably backed up by excellent service from Barcelona’s midfield orchestrators.
In addition to the verve of the Catalan attack, much of Barcelona’s dominance can be attributed to the return of influential midfielder Xavi. Alongside Iniesta, he was at the hub of everything the Blaugrana created, providing a fluidity which has been lacking at times in recent weeks. For Sevilla on the other hand the match was a frustrating measure of the gulf which exists between the clubs and altogether too reminiscent of the similarly one-sided hammering they were on the end of in the same fixture last season.
2 Alves – 3 Pique – 5 Puyol – 22 Abidal
16 Busquets – 6 Xavi – 8 Iniesta
10 Messi – 7 Villa – 17 Pedro
60 – 14 Mascherano on for 6 Xavi
60 – 9 Bojan on for 17 Pedro
66 – 21 Adriano on for 5 Puyol