After two games with brilliant football, Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona got another result apart from victory after drawing against Sevilla. However, regardless of the draw, the bigger problem were the negative aspects of the game compared to Koeman’s previous duels. Below, you can find our 5 takeaways from the Barcelona 1-1 Sevilla game.
Ronald Koeman started his job as Barça coach in the best way in La Liga after a streak of two victories against Villarreal and Celta Vigo. The Catalan club performed beautifully using the 4-2-3-1 and keeping clean-sheets in both of their games. Everything we thought the team had lost was recovered. A lot of intensity, good contributions, solid defense, creativity in attack, and good results. However, Barcelona had their first game under Koeman against Sevilla that brought a lot of negative points to the scenes.
We all know that Sevilla is one of the best teams in Spain nowadays. Last season they won the Europa League by knocking out Manchester United and Inter Milan. Also, a few weeks ago they were very close to winning the European Super Cup against Bayern Munich. It was no surprise that Sevilla was going to do everything possible to get all three points on Sunday night. Nevertheless, we hoped that the good form of Koeman’s team was going to be enough to have another victory, but it was not. The Catalans suffered a lot during the match, making it clear that despite the confidence boost in the first matches, many things still need to be polished.
1. Ronald Koeman should rotate his starting lineup
Ronald Koeman started La Liga in the 2020/21 season in the best way using a suitable approach in his starting XI. The 4-2-3-1 made most of the players work in his system against Villarreal and improved the roles of Frenkie de Jong and Philippe Coutinho in a positive way. Days later, in the match against Celta, he repeated the same XI again, bringing total success. The Dutch coach used the same approach against Sevilla, to the exception of Ronald Araújo who had to be a starter due to the suspension of Clément Lenglet.
Repeating the same lineup is fine once, but twice it could be risky and more so considering that the players had only rested for two days. Koeman used the same players he used in the last two games, which had huge consequences. Of course, it was already shown that they work well together, but several players were seen being tired so they did not apply the intensity that was seen against Villarreal and Celta. Instead, we saw an unconcentrated team with a high intensity once every 15 minutes. Koeman needs to change the XI from time to time. He should take advantage of his squad depth.
2. Ronald Araújo must be promoted as soon as possible
Since last season, Ronald Araújo already had a couple of opportunities in the first team and convinced the entire board that he should be promoted. In fact, president Josep María Bartomeu had announced at a press conference that the young Uruguayan was going to be part of the first team this season. However, no official move has yet been made and despite the fact that Araújo is still active with the team, he’s still part of Barça B.
Against Sevilla, he was key to prevent rivals from scoring on several dangerous occasions creating a very solid duo with Gerard Piqué. Araújo was at a level of intensity well above the one that the rest of the team was, and he did it constantly. Moreover, Ronald completed 59 passes with an 89% effectiveness and won 4/4 duels. Another test successfully passed by Araújo and we are increasingly convinced that he has to be from the first team…
3. Barcelona’s right flank was non-existent again
The same problem as in previous games, but this time it had more consequences. Barcelona has serious problems to stop depending a lot on the left side of its structure. Almost all the plays are concentrated on the side of Jordi Alba and Ansu Fati while the right side is non-existent for the players on the offensive side. On the right flank, there is usually Antoine Griezmann or Lionel Messi along with Sergi Roberto, but despite Antoine’s runs and Leo’s magic, the ball isn’t moving forward in the right-flank.
Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images
This means that the rivals can be more prepared to stop the Catalans in their transitions from the attack. Against Sevilla, we could clearly see that all the plays of the locals were concentrated on the left flank and it was very easy to predict which play was going to be made. Without a doubt, it is something that has to be solved. Fortunately, the arrival of Sergiño Dest can be something positive for that side of the pitch due to its tendency to be highly offensive, and with a lot of creativity, it could be an important solution. We will have to see how the player evolves.
4. A “9” is urgently needed
We suspected it against Villarreal, we realized it against Celta and we confirmed it against Sevilla. Barcelona urgently needs a “9” since the departure of Luis Suárez. The Blaugrana’s attack was mainly affected because there was no one who really occupied the area of a pure striker. There was no one capable of staying in that position and allowing danger with the movements of a true “9”.
Nevertheless, this could change in a few hours. Barça will seek to make official the signing of Memphis Depay, who could be the solution to this problem. Of course, it will be necessary to make a sacrifice by selling Ousmane Dembélé to have the necessary funds to sign the Dutch. I’m not sure if this move is convenient, but the reality is that Barça does not have a “9”, and that maybe that could be the fine line between being able to win titles or not.
5. Sergiño Dest debuted leaving us great signs
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
Barcelona made official the signing of Sergiño Dest a couple of days ago after selling Nélson Semedo to Wolves. At 19 years old and with a lack of experience, it was somewhat risky for Koeman to make Dest debut as a starter against an opponent like Sevilla. Sergi Roberto was in charge of protecting the right side of the Blaugrana. Nonetheless, Sergiño was able to fulfill his dream of debuting in his beloved club in the second half, after an injury from Jordi Alba.
Dest came in in the 75th minute to replace Alba. Playing from the left side, the American enjoyed approximately 15 minutes of pure quality. He was really dangerous in attack and made a couple of good combinations from the left side with the intention of being able to win the game.
Barcelona player ratings vs Sevilla — Hosts unable to get past Mingueza, the wall
Turning headless chickens into mature students of the game turned out to be Ronald Koeman’s biggest achievement at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, where the Catalan giants had recently just suffered a disappointing loss. On the score-sheet, the margin may not have looked considerable, but on the field, Barcelona were pretty much untouchable, courtesy in large parts to the structural change made by Koeman.
A performance this cohesive and harmonized was much needed after the countless defeats Barça have suffered on the big stage. Everything Cules have strived to see in this team, was present, and while consistency has been the club’s biggest hurdle, this win undoubtedly holds a great deal of significance.
The Blaugranas have arguably exerted more energy in other games over the course of the campaign, but the spirit Barcelona lacked suddenly came to life. The pressing was in sync, every move was calculated and well crafted. Playing the Barcelona way in hostile territory against a team as dominant as Sevilla brought back life into a team devoid of wins in high magnitude encounters.
Marc-André Ter Stegen: 7
Ter Stegen oozed confidence as he came off his line and claimed the ball several times. Not only did he display composure, but the German rushed out of his box on one occasion to clear the ball and remove any danger that Sevilla’s potential attack possessed. With the exception of a poor pass, his distribution was immaculate. Even so, it must be admitted that the Sevilla forwards barely tested ter Stegen in goal with dangerous attempts on target.
Oscar Mingueza: 8.5
Oscar Mingueza was a vital reason as to why the Blaugrana defence was impenetrable. Piementa’s prodigy did not allow Lopetegui’s men to advance into any areas on the right side of the field. He won 6 out his 9 duels along winning 5 tackles, proving the 21-year-old’s precise ball-winning abilities remain crucial. Not to mention, his exceptional ball-playing ability enabled Barça to play with a high line thus applying further pressure on Sevilla.
Pique was the nail in the coffin to Barça’s counter-pressing strategies. The players would press the Sevilla Keeper and force him to heave the ball away, and this is where Pique’s aerial ability flourished, which particularly authorized the Catalans to regain possession. The Spanish veteran won 5 out of 7 of his aerial duels, thus showing his dominance in that area of play. His distribution was reliable as always and allowed the Catalans to retain a high defensive line at selected times.
The Frenchman is on route to recovering the form he once had, and this performance should do his confidence a world of good. Still prone to making errors, he dealt with Sevilla’s threat in a respectable manner. An improvement was observed in his ability to stay ahead of his man, which led to his positioning being marginally better. His second-half performance was key to the win as he stepped up after Pique and Ronald Araujo had to be subbed off. Lenglet must be appreciated for his tackling as they successfully neutralized a few well-structured attacks from the hosts.
Sergiño Dest: 7
Despite typically being perceived as a full-back, Ronald Koeman handed Dest the responsibility to play higher up the field as a right-wing-back. The American speedster enjoyed his new role with piercing runs behind Sevilla’s defence and looked a lot more explosive, with defensive cover behind him.
Sergino Dest vs Sevilla:— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) February 28, 2021
• Touches: 58
• Accurate passes: 36/42 (86%)
• Shots: 2
• Ground duels (won): 4 (2)
• Fouls won: 2
• Clearances: 2
• Interceptions: 2
— SofaScore pic.twitter.com/IjN74fDwhc
Dest launched a couple of promising crosses, but a major issue was that he shied away from entering 1v1 duels and instinctively looked to send in crosses. The US international also came oh-so-close to scoring after striking the post on one occasion.
Jordi Alba: 7.5
Similar to his wing-back partner in crime, Jordi Alba raided forward at any given opportunity, stretching the play wide and utilizing his raw pace throughout. Without having to worry about his defensive duties, the marauding Spaniard looked a lot more imposing. He was just inches away from tapping the ball into the opposition net after proceedings.
Frenkie de Jong: 8.5
De Jong’s season just proceeds to take massive leaps as the Dutchman proved to be a defining factor in the Catalans’ applaudable 2-0 victory. In spite of not stamping his name on the score-sheet, De Jong’s performance was worthy of endless praise, almost making it seem as if he was carrying around an extra pair of lungs. The former Ajax wonderboy surged forward, breaking the opposition’s lines tirelessly and constantly squirming his way out of tight areas.
Sergio Busquets: 7.5
The ageing veteran appeared to be recreating glimpses from the past as his counter-pressing was absolutely decisive in the Catalans’ attacking plays. Sergio Busquets – unlike most big game he has participated in – was not cheaply bullied off the ball and made possession purposeful for the Blaugranas. With defensive aid behind him, Busquets was back to his brilliant best.
The cog in Ronald Koeman’s midfield was once again a trusty figure in midfield and managed to string together some impressive plays in what appeared to be a 3-5-2 formation. Though Pedri’s involvement was substantially lower than usual, his display was mainly impeded by an injury he suffered in the 71st minute, disabling him from completing the full 90 minutes.
Lionel Messi: 8.5
Against his favourite opposition, Lionel Messi savoured the occasion to the fullest. The Argentine was an influential figure in the club’s victory away from home, with his creativity and efficiency in front of goal second to none. In the 29th minute of the game, Leo spotted a raiding Ousmane Dembélé through on goal as he bagged himself an assist for the Frenchman’s finish.
To cap off his outing, Barcelona’s captain weaved his way past a couple of Sevilla defenders and, after failing to chip the keeper, delicately slotted it into the net.
Ousmane Dembélé: 8
Sevilla were haplessly left chasing Ousmane Dembélé’s shadows. The Frenchman – without having to worry about his defensive tasks – waltzed forward continuously and enjoyed playing as a secondary striker, making runs in behind the defence and eventually proving his worth with a beautifully placed goal just before the half-hour mark. A much more mature and composed exhibition from the electric winger.
Ilaix Moriba: 7
Ronald Araujo: N/A
Martin Braithwaite: N/A
Samuel Umtiti: N/A