Sevilla 1-2 Barcelona – Superlative Lionel Messi, Samir Nasri’s resurgence and other talking points

Barcelona emerged with three points away to Sevilla to keep in touching distance with league leaders Real Madrid.

The Blaugranas had to stage a comeback to earn the win in an immensely entertaining contest against an in-form Sevilla side. The home side started off strongly, opening the scoring within 15 minutes and dominating the game for large parts of the first 40 minutes. However, Barcelona responded through some Messi magic just before half-time, after the Argentine scored from the edge of the box with a peach of a finish.

Luis Enrique tweaked the playing system at half-time which helped Barcelona perform much better in the second half. The Spanish giants then look the lead through Luis Suarez in the 61st minute, again after some exquisite passage of play by Lionel Messi. The game was pretty stretched in the final 20 minutess or so, but Barcelona held on firmly to secure the victory.

Here are the four talking points from the game.

Lionel Messi the difference-maker

After the game, Sevilla’s president Jose Castro was heard stating the only difference between the home side and Barcelona on Sunday was Lionel Messi. The president was absolutely right, as Messi outlined yet again it takes just a fraction of a second for him to make the difference.

Barcelona’s equalizer was instigated by the Argentine and then finished off by him in fine fashion. The bend Messi produced on the shot was just perfect to get past the defender and yet curve back at the goal-keeper’s near post. What makes this finish even more amazing is he hit it on the first time, and he had the whole far post uncovered.

Barcelona’s winning goal was also chiefly down to the 29-year-old maestro. Messi went on a mazy run right through Sevilla’s midfield before passing the ball to Suarez in the penalty box, who deposited the ball into the back of the net.

Messi now has 51 goals and 29 assists in 2016, both more than any other player, certainly making his case for the 2017 Ballon d’Or.

Samir Nasri’s resurgence

SEVILLE, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 06: Samir Nasri of Sevilla FC (L) being followed by Sergio Busquets of FC Barcelona (R) during the match between Sevilla FC vs FC Barcelona as part of La Liga at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium on November 6, 2016 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)
SEVILLE, SPAIN – NOVEMBER 06: Samir Nasri of Sevilla FC (L) being followed by Sergio Busquets of FC Barcelona (R) during the match between Sevilla FC vs FC Barcelona as part of La Liga at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium on November 6, 2016 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

The former Arsenal playmaker was always known as a player with abundance of talent but someone who had rash attitude and was not consistent. It was definitely the case during his spell with Manchester City, where he usually followed a good season with a poor one.

Still, the Frenchman has the right tools to succeed, which made Manchester City’s manager Pep Guardiola eager to keep him at the club, but Nasri stated he needed a move to rediscover his love for football, enjoy himself again and of course play every single minute.

Since his move, albeit a temporary one, to Sevilla, Nasri has been a revelation for the Spanish side, acting as the chief playmaker for Jorge Sampaoli. His technical abilities suit the team and the league to the tee, which seems to have brought out the best in him.

Samir enjoyed yet another fine outing against Barcelona, bypassing their midfielder with ease and orchestrating the Sevilla attacks. He ended up completing 57 of his 59 attempted passes (via Whoscored), which is quite remarkable against a side of Barcelona’s quality.

Two areas of concern for Barcelona

For the second game running, Barcelona’s frailties in midfield and defense were brutally exposed. Sevilla quite often, and with ease, found a way to bypass the midfield, which made it easier for the home side to grasp control of the game in the first half.

Without Iniesta, and with Sergio Busquets’ poor form, Barcelona’s midfield is the biggest concern of the club. While they may still outscore teams in La Liga with a dysfunctional midfield, the team won’t be able to progress much further in the Champions League, where dominating the middle of the park is of utmost importance, as we saw at the Etihad Stadium a week back.

Another area of concern for the Blaugranas is the right-back spot. Since Dani Alves’ departure, a big void has been left on the right side of the defense, which is yet to be properly filled. Sergi Roberto has shown remarkable improvement as a player, but yet he isn’t someone who’s without any chink in his armour. Going forward the Spanish forward offers a variety in attack, but defensively he still leaves a lot to be desired. It was the case again on Sunday, with Sevilla’s Vitolo scoring after Sergi’s poor attempt at clearance.

Sevilla – The road ahead

The team must be disappointed with the final result, but they can still take heart in the fact they managed to make Barcelona’s life difficult for most part of the match, with only the Argentine genius turning out to be the difference-maker between the two sides.

Sevilla’s high-pressing disrupted Barcelona’s flow completely and the pace at which they countered was fearsome. Before this clash, only one point separated both the teams, a testament of how well Sevilla have performed under Jorge Sampaoli. There’s no reason why their thrilling form won’t continue, even after Sunday’s setback.

While a challenge for the title seems too much of an ask, one wouldn’t be surprised if only Real Madrid and Barcelona (in no order) end up finishing above Sevilla at the end of the season.

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