Barcelona claimed a deserved 2-0 LaLiga win at Sevilla on Saturday in the first of the sides’ two crunch clashes.
The Blaugrana will host Sevilla in their Copa del Rey semi-final second leg in midweek but first took care of business in the league thanks to strikes from Ousmane Dembele and Lionel Messi.
A display of similar dominance will now be required at Camp Nou, as Barca trail 2-0 from the first leg of their Copa tie.
Ronald Koeman’s men will certainly not be short of confidence, though, after climbing to second, only two points behind leaders Atletico Madrid having played two games more.
[17:09] bensprattjourn (Guest)
3 + 1 – As @FCBarcelona player, Ousmane Dembele has scored three goals vs Sevilla, more than vs any #LaLiga opponent in all competitions, involving in four out his last six games vs Andalusian side. Favourite#SevillaFCBarca pic.twitter.com/iWSgHMjwHU
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 27, 2021
Barca had initially lacked a focal point, playing a 3-5-2 formation without a natural striker, yet their unorthodox front two combined to great effect for the opener after 29 minutes.
As Messi dropped deep to collect the ball, Dembele tore away on the shoulder of the last defender and met a pinpoint pass to fire under Yassine Bounou.
That was the only moment of real quality in a low-key first half, but Barca twice in quick succession should have added to their advantage after the break.
Sergino Dest blasted against the post when the ball broke his way following a patent move, before Dembele raced away again and teed up Messi, who blazed over.
Clement Lenglet then had a header ruled out for offside, yet Messi settled any nerves as he played a smart one-two with Ilaix Moriba and prodded in the rebound when Bounou blocked his dinked attempt five minutes from the end.
Only an apparent injury to Ronald Araujo, 15 minutes after his return to action, put a dampener on Barca’s day.