Barcelona looked to continue their great form this season by seeing off guests, Sevilla. Sevilla haven’t won any of their last 14 league games at the Nou Camp, and that streak looked set to continue. Before the match, Barcelona sat top of La Liga, 8 points clear of Real Madrid, now they stand 11 points clear. A brilliant brace from Paco Alcácer was enough to give Ernesto Valverde’s men a well-earned 2-1 win.
Here are the stand-out performers from Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Sevilla.
The Croatian has come under much criticism this season, but against Sevilla, he showed everyone why Ernesto Valverde so highly rates him. Ivan Rakitić ran the game from start to finish against his old club, and he was the man pulling strings in the middle.
At times he would join the attack to overload Sevilla, and in other instances, he would sit back in anticipation of the counter-attack. The 29-year-old was a calming presence in midfield that kept possession ticking over while making things happen in the final third when he surged forward.
His cross for Alcácer’s second goal was simply out of this world. It’s when the Croatian shows such moments of brilliance that it becomes harder to argue his status as one of the best CMs in world football. Against Sevilla, made 48 passes, created 4 chances, intercepted 1 pass and had 75 touches of the ball. He was influential in both attack and defence for Ernesto Valverde.
In his 600th game for the club, Lionel Messi played with the exuberance of a youngster making his home debut. The second-best player in the world rarely seems to have a bad game for Barcelona nowadays, and he’s the main reason why the Catalonians have been flying.
Ever since Neymar made the switch for Paris, the Argentinean has found a new lease of life. It’s almost as if a huge burden has been lifted off his shoulders, as he can now finally be selfish again. Against Sevilla, the little magician was dribbling past players for fun. In 90 minutes, he completed a breath-taking 8 take-ons, had a staggering 91 touches of the ball and created 2 chances.
In a time where Luis Suárez is in a poor run of form and with Ousmane Dembélé out on the sidelines, there is a key spot to be filled in the front three. Against, Paco Alcácer auditioned for that role and boy did he deliver. The Spaniard’s sheer desire to get on the end of crosses made him a menacing prospect to defend against for Sevilla. And as a result, the 24-year-old scored the two decisive goals in Barca’s win.
Throughout his cameo, Alcácer attempted 5 shots on goal, in which the two that were on target were goals. Off the ball, his defensive work was just as impressive; he made 1 tackle and 3 interceptions as he pressed the Sevilla defence from the front. All in all, the Spaniard has laid down an excellent marker for first-team football at the Nou Camp.