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Three talking points from Sevilla 1-2 Barcelona

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Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona’s final game of the 2023-24 season saw them take on Sevilla at the famed Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan and the 90 minutes that followed were high-octane, as expected.

Robert Lewandowski gave his side an early lead in Seville through a well-worked finish in just the 15th minute, but Youssef En-Neysri struck back for Sevilla just 15 minutes later.

The second half saw more conviction from the visitors, who pressed forward in attack with intensity. In the end, it was a spectacular finish from young Fermin Lopez that gifted Barça a win to close the season on a high.

More importantly, it ensured that Xavi left the club with a deserved victory in his final game as the coach of the team.

Barça Universal brings you three talking points from Sevilla 1-2 Barcelona.

A lucky escape

The game at Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan, as always, was a tricky affair despite Sevilla’s sub-par season. Taking to the field one last time this season, both sides were willing to go all out to take three points home.

Barcelona, in many ways, appeared emotionally touched from the get-go given the weight of the occasion. On the field, however, they were matched in every department by the hosts.

Despite dominating the possession on the night, it was Sevilla who enjoyed more, and the better chances throughout the game. The first half, in fact, saw them create a stunning four big chances of which they could capitalise only on one.

Xavi’s men were lucky to escape into the half-time break without a deficit, and they came out more determined in the second half and took the game by its scruff. Fermin Lopez eventually scored a stunning winner, but that does not go to say that Sevilla were inferior.

Statistically, Sevilla created almost double the xG that Barcelona created in the second half. Adria Pedrosa had a sensational strike denied by Marc-Andre ter Stegen while Mariano Diaz also came close to giving Sevilla a lease of life.

In the end, the 2-1 win for Barcelona was a lucky escape, especially considering that Sevilla created five big chances compared to the Catalans’ two.

Auditioning for next season

Fermin ensured Xavi signed off on a winning note. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)

Participating in their final 90 minutes of the season, the game was important to different levels for different Barcelona players.

For the likes of Pedri Gonzalez, Ilkay Gundogan, Robert Lewandowski and Lamine Yamal, all of whom dished out strong showings, the game did not mean much pertaining to their future.

Others, however, played in a virtual audition to coerce the board to maintain faith in them next season. It was, in a way, their final chance to show the incoming management their prowess.

Joao Cancelo was one such player who delivered a massive performance against Sevilla. In 84 minutes, the Portuguese full-back delivered a stunning assist for Lewy’s opening goal and was incisive with his attacks, even recording a key pass and hitting the woodwork once.

Defensively, Cancelo completed seven defensive actions and did not allow Juanlu Sanchez to get into the game. With his future uncertain, the performance could go a long way in pushing for his continuity.

Another player who rose to the occasion was Fermin Lopez. The La Masia starlet has enjoyed a stunning first season in the senior team, and while he will stay next season, his display could make Flick take notice and hand him a bigger role in the dynamics.

Joao Felix, Andreas Christensen and Ferran Torres are some of the others who got a chance to audition for their future, although they impressed to different levels on the night.

Farewell and thank you

The biggest storyline heading into the Blaugranas’ clash against Sevilla revolved around Xavi Hernandez, who was overseeing his final game as the manager of Barcelona.

Sacked just a month after announcing his continuity, the Spanish tactician has not had an easy month behind him. His love for the club, however, is evident in the grace with which he accepted his fate, and there were thus emotions running high before the clash.

Xavi came in at a time when Barcelona were virtually falling apart, stabilised the ship and even took them to a famous Spanish Super Cup and La Liga triumph in his first full season as the manager.

The 2023-24 campaign may not have given the team any silverware, but it is striking that the Azulgranas finished the season just three points less than their league-winning tally last season.

Moreover, they were a whisker away from qualifying for the UEFA Champions League semifinal in what can only be considered an unfortunate elimination.

In any case, Xavi’s tenure at Barcelona was not half as bad as it is projected and the manager deserved a more special farewell as a bonafide legend of the club. For now, it is goodbye but one hopes it is only a ‘see you later’.

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