Barcelona reclaimed pole position in La Liga, as they defeated Sevilla 4-2 in a top of the table clash at Camp Nou on Saturday night.
Reigning champions Barcelona edged out Pablo Machin’s Sevilla in a six-goal thriller to return to the top of the La Liga standings on Saturday.
The Catalans were third on the table coming into the game and were without a victory in four league matches on the trot. But, they were off to a lightning start as Philippe Coutinho fired a curling effort into the top corner just two minutes into the game to open the scoring. Captain Lionel Messi then doubled Barcelona’s lead ten minutes later, slotting home with great ease.
The Argentine though, was soon subbed off due to an elbow injury he picked up after an awkward landing. But, that did not stop the Blaugrana from extending their lead further, with Luis Suarez converting from the penalty spot in the 63rd minute. Sevilla made a late surge after Pablo Sarabia’s shot was headed past Marc-Andre ter Stegen by Clement Lenglet to make it 3-1 in the 79th minute.
Ivan Rakitic’s goal ten minutes later though, killed off any hopes of a comeback for the visitors. However, Luis Muriel did add a consolation goal in stoppage time. With three points in the bag, Barcelona moved back to the top of the La Liga table with 18 points from 9 matches. And here’s how Valverde’s men fared on the night at Camp Nou.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 9/10
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) October 20, 2018
Star of the show for the reigning champions on the night. The German international pulled off a brilliant double save to deny Andre Silva and Franco Vazquez, before repeating his heroics again to keep out Pablo Sarabia and Wissam Ben Yedder late in the game. Not a lot he could have done about either goal scored by the visitors.
Nelson Semedo: 7/10
The Portuguese was preferred once again at right-back ahead of Sergi Roberto and he took his opportunity by producing a fine performance. Was an asset going forward with his pace and direct running, although he was caught out at the back on a few occasions. Started the move for the opening goal.
Gerard Pique: 7/10
After a series of wobbly displays, the former Spanish international was back in his elements against the Andalusian outfit on Saturday. Was a reliable presence at the back, winning a fair share of his duels in the air and on the ground. Pique’s return to form bodes well for Barcelona ahead of crucial encounters against Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
Clement Lenglet: 7/10
With both Samuel Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen ruled out, the Frenchman got another chance on Saturday against his former club and he enjoyed a fairly solid outing. Did not do much wrong throughout the game and was unlucky to see Sarabia’s fierce effort bounce off him and into his own net for Sevilla’s opening goal.
Jordi Alba: 6/10
Started off brightly, linking up well with Messi going forward, but had to curb his natural attacking instincts as the game progressed with Jesus Navas posing a constant threat down his side. As a result, Alba failed to make much of an impact like he usually does.
Ivan Rakitic: 7/10
Solid in the middle of the park if not spectacular against his former employers. The Croatian international was calm and composed, kept things moving without much fuss before killing off the game with a fine volleyed effort for Barcelona’s fourth goal.
Sergio Busquets: 7/10
The Spanish international still doesn’t look at the top of his game but was a vital presence in the centre of the park for the Blaugrana. Produced a number of key tackles and interceptions to keep his team’s nose ahead on the night, while his distribution was on point all game long.
Arthur Melo: 7.5/10
Barcelona’s summer signing is starting to come into his own in recent matches. Arthur was once again in fine form on Saturday night, showing off his range of distribution with some delectable passes while looking unfazed under pressure from the visitors. The 22-year-old is fast establishing himself as a mainstay in the middle for the Catalans.
Lionel Messi: 8/10
Started off brilliantly, setting Coutinho up for the opener with a fine pass, before getting his name on the scoresheet with a classy finish, scoring his 32nd goal against Sevilla. An awkward landing soon after led to an injury, forcing him off the field.
It was later confirmed that the little magician had sustained a fracture and will miss three weeks of action.
Luis Suarez: 8/10
A fine assist for Messi’s goal in the first period was followed up with a smart penalty after the break, after he forced a foul from Sevilla’s goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik. The Uruguayan has drawn a lot of flak this season for his inconsistent form, but highlighted his value to the team with an all-action, energetic display on Saturday night.
Philippe Coutinho: 7/10
The Brazilian playmaker opened the scoring with a spectacular finish just two minutes after the kick-off. Coutinho continued to pose a threat from the left side, but needed to do more, especially after Messi’s substitution early into the proceedings.
Ousmane Dembele: 6/10
Came on for the injured Messi close to the half-hour mark. Started off on a bright note, causing all sorts of troubles with his speed and dribbling, but the end product was once again missing. Gave away possession more than his manager would have liked. A slightly erratic display from the Frenchman.
Sergi Roberto: 6/10
Replaced Arthur in the 67th minute to mark his return from a back injury. Kept it simple and uncomplicated in the middle, helping Barcelona see out the game.
Munir El Haddadi: N/A
Thrown in for Suarez with less than ten minutes left on the clock. Had a shot blocked.