Barcelona had to weather an early storm on Saturday but eventually cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory over struggling Sevilla.
In front of a Sevilla crowd that were audible in their frustrations towards their team, Barcelona were slow to get going but ultimately spent most of the game dominating the ball, with goals from Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski and Eric Garcia securing a third consecutive victory for Xavi’s side.
The first chance fell Sevilla’s way. Former Real Madrid man Isco combined with Ivan Rakitic to feed the Croatian through on goal, but his stabbed effort was clawed off the line by Ronald Araujo.
Robert Lewandowski had a half-shout for a penalty waved away soon after, but it was Sevilla who were asking most of the questions and Erik Lamela saw a 13th-minute goal correctly ruled out for offside by VAR.
Isco and Youssef En-Nesyri both got themselves through on goal, and although both were caught offside, Sevilla were clearly enjoying too much space behind the Barcelona defence.
Against the run of play, Barcelona got themselves ahead. Lewandowski lobbed the goalkeeper but saw his shot cleared off the line by Fernando, whose desperate lunge landed right on the head of Raphinha to nod home.
The goal saw Barcelona assume control of the game and Ousmane Dembele became increasingly impactful on the left wing, but it was Lewandowski who bagged the second. Jules Kounde’s long ball into the box was expertly plucked from the air and the Poland international spun to volley home.
They should have had a third to take into the break as Pedri’s cross found Kounde in acres of space, but the full-back skewed his header well wide of the goal. Almost straight after, Dembele fluffed another excellent chance, with Barcelona somehow only 2-0 up at the interval.
Lamela had two efforts on goal inside the opening minute of the first half as Sevilla sought an immediate route back into the game, but Barcelona bagged their third in the 50th minute as Garcia poked home following Kounde’s knock-back.
Bono did well to stop Lewandowski from getting another, with the away side playing the match completely at their own tempo, although a handful of substitutions seemed to kill their threat on the counter.
Nevertheless, the Barcelona pressure kept coming and coming, with Frenkie de Jong wasting a good chance to add a fourth goal which even Sevilla would have admitted was deserved.
GK: Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 7/10 – Single-handedly kept Barcelona alive early on. Big saves to deny Rakitic and En-Nesyri before the rest of his team-mates woke up.
RB: Jules Kounde – 8/10 – Stayed back more than Balde but made a great impact from deep as his searching pass set up Lewandowski perfectly. Really impressive whenever he did get forwards.
CB: Ronald Araujo – 6/10 – Impressive defending, clearing a shot off the line, but lacked composure with the ball at his feet. A little sloppy at times.
CB: Eric Garcia – 6/10 – A shaky start and fortunate not to ship one or two goals before he woke up. Good reactions for his goal.
LB: Alejandro Balde – 6/10 – Clearly a little raw but put in a good shift down Barcelona’s left.
DM: Sergio Busquets – 4/10 – Marked out the game by Isco. Clearly a target of Julen Lopetegui’s tactics.
CM: Gavi – 8/10 – Did so much dirty work. Not too busy on the ball but flew into every challenge with real enthusiasm. Played an integral role in his side’s success.
CM: Pedri – 7/10 – Some excellent passing. Outstanding vision to keep his side moving forward.
RW: Raphinha – 7/10 – Had a lot of fun on the counter. Gifted the easiest goal he could have imagined.
ST: Robert Lewandowski – 8/10 – Charged around with real energy and dropped deep to try and make things happen. Despite being so busy, still managed to find himself in the right places to score. Excellent.
Ousmane Dembele – 8/10 – A little too selfish when he got in front of goal but did some outstanding work to get their in the first place. Involved in nearly everything positive from Barcelona.
SUB: Sergi Roberto (55′ for Garcia) – 7/10 – Some excellent movement up and down the right wing. A really impressive cameo.
SUB: Frenkie de Jong (64′ for Pedri) – 6/10 – Great in midfield but really clunky in the final third. His limitations were very obvious.
SUB: Ferran Torres (64′ for Dembele) – 6/10 – His lack of dynamism on the counter compared to Dembele was noticeable.
SUB: Jordi Alba (64′ for Balde) – 5/10 – Not great. Lacked any composure on the ball and only served to prove why he is no longer a starter.
SUB: Ansu Fati (74′ for Lewandowski) – 5/10 – Found it very hard to get going.
Manager: Xavi – 6/10 – Didn’t know what to do to stop Sevilla’s early pressure and was largely bailed out by the quality in his side. Their efficiency on the counter was superb but, perhaps with midweek European action in mind, his substitutions worked against that game plan.