After two great performances from Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona, the Catalan club failed to continue the winning streak in La Liga matchday 3 against a strong Sevilla. Here is what our editors have to say.
Back down to earth
by Prajas Naik
After a nerve-wrecking and exciting game at Camp Nou, Sevilla and Barça shared the spoils as the game finished 1-1. It was the visitors who took the game to Barcelona, dominating the opening proceedings. Both teams scored in quick succession in the first 10 minutes. After a well-matched first half, Sevilla threw everything at the Blaugrana in the second period. Wave after wave of intense pressing was directed at the team, yet we managed to get through without conceding.
There were moments of uncertainty though, with several loose passes and lapses in possession, while the substitutions were also questionable. Antoine Griezmann was again underwhelming and is also in desperate need of some confidence. There is a lot to think about for Koeman. But let’s not forget, the draw came against a side who held Bayern Munich 1-1 in 90 minutes of football just 10 days ago.
Stand-out performer: Phillipe Coutinho
The Brazilian was absolutely brilliant in the game against the Andalusian side. He pressed with intensity and was our main creative force after a relatively quiet game from Leo Messi. He latched on to the mistake by Jesus Navas to grab the equalizer in the 10th minute. He finally seems to have settled in after being played in his preferred position. If he continues to perform in the same manner consistently, then he might finally live up to his price tag.
Another Gruelling Tie
by Nassif Ali
There is no denying that Barca did not do enough to grab the three points last night. But they did one thing right, one thing that they haven’t really been doing for quite some time – fight. Let’s set the context here first. Barcelona is coming from a disastrous and humiliating season – on and off the pitch. And from there they step into this new season all of a sudden. Look at the first few duels that awaited them there. Their first week in the new season, had games versus Villareal, Celta Vigo and Sevilla. Not an easy list to deal with at any point in the season. On the other hand, Sevilla is coming off a fantastic season. They were tied at the third spot with Athletico and only the goal difference pushed them to the fourth. They also went on to win the Europa League and put up a strong performance against Bayern Munich at the European Supercup finals – the same Bayern that sank Barca in the Champions League.
It was evident in the first half itself that the energy and dynamism that Barca has exhibited in the last two games were missing here. This, however, is understandable considering how they had to literally run to the ground in a gritty encounter at Estadio Balaidos against Celta Vigo only two days ago. There may be five substitutes available, but it still doesn’t make matches in such frequency any easier.
Sevilla took advantage of this weakness. This enabled them to disrupt Barca’s passing lanes, press better and force the Blaugranes to make mistakes. The result was evident, passes were mislaid and off-target all around the pitch. And this is why it is difficult to point fingers at one single player. When you give away passes, you not only fail at attacking the opponent, you are also giving the opponent a chance at attacking and that’s exactly what happened yesterday. Taking all this into account Barca can definitely breathe a sigh of relief that they managed to come off with at least one point yesterday. Yes, they could have scored more, but they could have conceded too.
One player who has to be mentioned here is Antoine Griezmann. Stationed on the right, he seems to be contributing in no way to the team’s attack right now. He also had a few great chances that he failed to convert. Koeman will have to consider benching him and starting off with Francisco Trincao. The latter has been impressive in the few minutes that he has been accorded so far.
Stand-out performer: Ronald Araújo
In a Barcelona side that looked about average and lacked spark, Araújo was a breath of fresh air. Starting on the night in place of suspended Clément Lenglet, Araujo showed no stage fright, in spite of playing against such a tough side as Sevilla. In addition to his solidity in defence, he also had a pass success rate of 89.4%. What was particularly good, was his stellar long balls from the back. He made a total of four accurate deliveries all the way from the back, which on any other day could have helped the Blaugranes build a lead and grab the three points. At a time when Barca defence seems to be quite depleted – with Jean-Clair Todibo seemingly on the way out and Samuel Umtiti still injured – it is good to see such confident performances from the young Uruguayan defender.