Barcelona in Test at Defiant Sevilla

March 14, 2011

FC Barcelona were held to a 1-1 draw on Sunday night against a tough-tackling Sevilla team in one of most thrilling encounters of the season. Pep Guardiola’s men took the lead through Bojan before being pegged back by a Jesus Navas header in a hard-fought second half.

Barcelona’s goal came after Iniesta’s fantastic pass over Sevilla’s backline found Alves. The Brazilian pulled the ball down, before squaring for Bojan, an early replacement for the injured Pedrito, to fend off Caceres’ lunge and guide the ball into the net.

But Sevilla fought back after a first half that was all Barcelona. Within minutes of the restart Negredo drew Valdes wide, crossing for Navas to head home.

Barcelona had started the match with real swagger. Iniesta floated in from the left side of the midfield three to bypass the retreating Sevilla defence with a series of looping through-balls.

Messi was dropping as deep as the halfway line to collect the ball and add pace and momentum to the Blaugrana attacks, while Bojan and Villa filled the vacuum created by his absence, making rapier-like thrusts through the massed rojiblanco ranks.

Yet, with Sevilla defending with depth and resolve, the most dangerous runs were from former Sevillistas Adriano on the left, and the vibrant Alves on the right. Alves was incorrectly ruled offside as early as the 16th minute, before breaching the defence expertly for the Barcelona goal.

And Barcelona had a right to feel hard done by after a precise early Messi free kick was crazily ruled out by referee Perez Lasa.

Despite this injustice Barcelona were tightening their stranglehold on the game with every minute. Another smart, looping Iniesta pass found Messi, whose header rebounded agonisingly off the crossbar.

Sevilla’s usual suspects, Navas, Rakitic and the burly Negredo, were little more than exhausted bystanders throughout the first 45.

Still, when the teams came out for the second half, the home side took to the field with renewed energy and intent. Manzano’s players appeared to take heart from being only 1-0 down; Kanoute replaced Zokora, and started to pose questions of the high Barça backline.

Their aggressive attack combined with a fierceness in the tackle that appeared to startle the Barça players; Messi, recovering from a collision with Varas on the stroke of half time, was the chief target, but Pique, Busquets and Bojan all felt the force of this robust approach. It was now a different match and Barcelona needed to knuckle under.

They did manage to recover some of their first half fluency, carving out a handful of chances in a breathless second period. Messi went close, Iniesta crashed a long-range effort off the bar, before being denied on the line by Medel. And at the other end a crucial Valdes block denied Navas and Sevilla an unlikely lead.

There was a strong penalty shout after Bojan was felled by Navas late on, but ultimately Pep’s men had to be contented with a hard-earned point.

0-1 Bojan (min 30)
1-1 Navas (min 48)

Team P W D L F A Pts
1
Barcelona
28
24
3
1
79
14
75
2
Real Madrid
28
22
4
2
67
20
70
3
Valencia
28
16
6
6
42
32
54
4
Villarreal
28
15
6
7
47
30
51
5
Espanyol
28
14
1
13
37
39
43
6
Athletic Bilbao
27
13
2
12
42
38
41
7
Atlético Madrid
28
11
6
11
41
37
39
8
Sevilla
28
11
6
11
42
43
39
9
Real Sociedad
28
11
2
15
38
46
35
10
Mallorca
28
10
5
13
29
38
35
11
Getafe
27
9
6
12
36
41
33
12
Osasuna
28
8
8
12
30
33
32
13
Levante
28
9
5
14
29
39
32
14
Deportivo
28
7
10
10
23
38
31
15
Zaragoza
28
7
9
12
28
39
30
16
Racing Santander
28
7
9
12
26
42
30
17
Sporting Gijón
28
6
11
11
26
35
29
18
Almería
28
5
11
12
30
47
26
19
Hércules
28
7
5
16
25
43
26
20
Málaga
28
7
5
16
36
59
26

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