The same old story for Barcelona with a twist; Lionel Messi only setting up the dramatic winner after poor defending jeopardizes everything this team does well, allowing Alexis Sanchez to come off the bench and find himself in the hero’s seat for a change.
Sevilla don’t have too much reason to complain about being “robbed” of a goal by Cala. Earlier on Stephane M’bia should have been sent off for his inability to stop Neymar without fouling, and Beto fouled Cesc Fabregas on one of Sevilla’s goals. Spanish referees make a lot of mistakes, but not all of them were in favor of Barcelona.
And still, a Barca side that struggled to shake of the exhaustion of the international week came up with the dramatic 3-2 win, keeping them among those with a perfect record in Spain (only them and Atletico Madrid are left). The Busquest-Xavi-Iniesta trio in the middle of the pitch looked tired, even though they created enough chances for the rest of the team in the first half that should have put the game to bed a lot before it got complicated.
Lionel Messi, with the jet lag and the travelling, has enough magic in him to score (six in three matches), while providing the set up for the injury time winner, bursting through the right wing to beat two defenders, stretching his leg just in time to create havoc in the box, which Alexis was the first to take advantage of. The Chilean is looking different this season compared to his disappointing campaign last year, if only in the sense that he seems a lot more efficient and knowing much better what his role is right now.
Neymar is still looking for his first goal in the Spanish La Liga, but his inaccuracy in the box can be excused when you take a look at his travelling distance these last couple of weeks. It won’t be surprising if more than one player get some sort of rest in the Champions League this week, giving some players a bit more time to recover from the international “break”. However, the Brazilian does make life easier for Messi and seems to be improving his link up with the main act on the team.
The defending continues to be awful when its presented with threats. As long as the Barcelona midfield can intercept the incoming danger, Gerard Pique doesn’t need to worry himself about chasing down quicker players, or to worry about the holes left on the wings by irresponsible wing backs.
However, when Javier Mascherano fails to make the midfield interception he is famous for, Barcelona are too exposed in the back four, even against a team with limited options like Sevilla. There’s enough talent on the offensive end to barely scrape through the win, but as the saying goes, against a stronger opposition relying on luck and on Lionel Messi to come up with the one extra play to win the match isn’t the smartest of tactics.
Barcelona, like most teams at this stage of the season, are simply hoping to get by before fatigue and early season cobwebs are shed off. Luckily for them, even when things get complicated, there’s Lionel Messi to save the day, even if the credit for scoring goes to someone else at the end.