Barcelona will have it all to do next week at Camp Nou as Sevilla grabbed a two-goal lead from the first leg of their Copa del Rey clash on Wednesday.
With the signing of Frenkie de Jong announced in the build-up to the game, Barcelona were supposed to be coming into the game with a positive frame of mind, especially with another new capture, Kevin-Prince Boateng being a part of the starting lineup and raring to go.
But, the hosts lacked any sort of substance in a drab first half that saw chances come few and far between from both sides. Wissam Ben Yedder came the closest for Sevilla, while Malcom missed an open goal after rounding Juan Soriano. The second half though, would end up being even more forgettable for the Copa del Rey holders.
Pablo Sarabia broke the deadlock in the 58th minute, finishing off a fine move that was largely down to some good work by Quincy Promes. The win was then rounded off 15 minutes before the end of the regulation time, with Ben Yedder finally grabbing the elusive goal.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 23, 2019
The French striker calmly finished from close range before revealing a tribute message for Emiliano Sala, who is currently missing after his Cardiff-bound plane disappeared. The match though, ended in a promising state for Sevilla, who now have a handy two-goal lead ahead of next week’s second leg. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ernesto Valverde’s men.
Jasper Cillessen: 6/10
A frustrating night for Cillessen, who saved everything that was good enough to be saved, including a fine stop to thwart Wissam Ben Yedder in the first half. But, he could not have done much to deny Ben Yedder and Pablo Sarabia after some poor cover-up work by the defence in front of him.
Sergi Roberto: 5/10
Sergi Roberto has not quite managed to perform at optimum levels ever since he returned to the fold from his injury. And, the Spaniard was sub-par once again on Wednesday, producing very little of note going forward, while also being suspect against Quincy Promes at times. Needs to do better.
Gerard Pique: 5/10
Pique came into the match on the back of some fine form lately. But, Ben Yedder gave him a hard time all game long at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, even leaving the Barcelona skipper on his back side on one occasion. Partly at fault for the first goal, with Promes getting the better of him.
Clement Lenglet: 5/10
Lenglet was always in for a tough outing against his former side, with Sevilla fans jeering him from the first whistle till the last. The Frenchman seemed to be taking it all in his stride for the most part, before making a mistake that led to Ben Yedder’s crucial goal.
Till then, he had been covering well for Nelson Semedo while linking up smartly with the midfield. Will surely put this disappointment past him.
Nelson Semedo: 6/10
Handed a start in an unfamiliar left-back role, Semedo did well for the most part, dealing with the pace and guile of Jesus Navas with aplomb. The Portuguese also provided a bigger threat than Roberto on the right flank. But, then positioning problems surfaced, particularly in the lead-up to Sarabia’s goal. Still, plenty of positives in an alien position.
Arturo Vidal: 6/10
Wednesday’s outing was somewhat of a positive for Vidal, who took charge in driving Barcelona forward when all else seemed to fail, much like how he had done in the Round of 16 first leg against Levante.
The quality in his passes was missing at times, but the Chilean worked his socks off all throughout. Involved in the most controversial moment of the night, but VAR was right to not penalise him.
Ivan Rakitic: 6/10
Starting as the deepest midfielder in the absence of Sergio Busquets yet again, Rakitic was diligent in his duties, dropping deep to support Pique and Lenglet while also setting the tempo of the game. Needed better finishing from those in front of him, and there was precious little he could have done to influence the outcome.
Another solid outing for Arthur, who continues to grow in stature at Barcelona. Pulled the strings ever so effortlessly and was the brightest spark for his side on the night. Set up Barcelona’s biggest chance of the night, only to see Malcom squander it away.
One of those players who just cannot seem to be able to get a break, although that is also largely down to his own doing. Malcom was handed one of the best chances of the game, but he could not find the back of an empty net after rounding Juan Soriano. Bright moments only came few and far between, and this was another opportunity lost.
Kevin-Prince Boateng: 6/10
Handed his debut just a day after joining Barcelona, Boateng seemed to be a man on a mission. But, he initially lacked the required understanding with his teammates, and understandably so. Cannot exactly be blamed for the defeat, with Valverde choosing to throw him into the deep end so soon. Showed a few positive signs and might come of use in the coming months.
??| Kevin-Prince Boateng's Barcelona debut didn't go stellar, but he'll hope for the better in the future. ?#SevillaBarca 2⃣-0⃣
— SofaScore? (@SofaScoreINT) January 23, 2019
Carles Alena: 6/10
A midfield prodigy, Alena was another player played out of position on Wednesday. While he did show a lot of desire to make his manager proud, the young Spaniard lacked the pace needed to succeed in the position, also giving the ball away cheaply at times. Nevertheless, he was one of the few bright sparks in the final third, and will have impressed Valverde.
Luis Suarez: 6/10
On for Boateng, Suarez only saw one chance coming his way. But, he could not make the most of it. Kept on hustling to search for opportunities, but it wasn’t to be for him.
Philippe Coutinho: 4/10
Coutinho dug a deeper grave for himself on Wednesday, making very little impact in the final third while losing the ball THREE times in the build-up to Sevilla’s second goal. Desperately lacking confidence, which will unlikely put an end to rumours linking him with a move away from Barcelona.
Jordi Alba: N/A
Introduced late on, Alba barely had any chance to make a telling impact.