analysis | 2016-08-15
Composition and clarity - Barça win the first leg of the Super Cup at Sevilla
A fine second half display combined with defensive compactness led to Barça's first win of the season
The first competitive game for Barça this season against a difficult opponent on a difficult ground, and what a result: The Catalan champions have won the first tie of the Spanish Super Cup against FC Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan by two goal in quite an impressive manner.
The first half was balanced, with Luis Suárez having the best goalscoring chance, but who's arguably the best #9 in the world was denied by a marvellous save from Sevilla’s impressive young goalkeeper Sergio Rico. Apart from that Sevilla made life pretty hard for Barça with their pressing and tireless work ethic.
Despite losing Andrés Iniesta and Jeremy Mathieu - who surprisingly started at left back - to injury early in the first half the Catalans looked even more sharp and composed in the second half of the game and took the lead after a wonderful play: A Denis Suárez Iniesta-esque cross was perfectly chested down by Arda Turan to Luis Suárez who gave Barça the lead with a low finish in the left corner (54'). A truly stunning opener who gave the visiting team more confidence.
Meanwhile Sevilla already looked much like a typical Jorge Sampaoli side, pressing early and relentlessly, but lacking end product and clear ideas in the final third of the pitch. Claudio Bravo didn’t have to do much in goal, which was due to Barça’s aggressive, mindful defending. The Catalans looked very focused with Piqué, Mascherano, Sergi Roberto and Digne, who replaced Mathieu, keeping the backline together and not getting nervous even when Sevilla’s players run at them like mad dogs at times.
In attack, Barça exploited the space in good fashion with Messi orchestrating play as the #10, setting up Munir’s goal who made it 2-0 (81'), scored with the outside of his boot, in beautiful fashion with an intelligent through-ball. Judging from his pre-season form, Munir looks like a very good substitute for Luis Suárez at the centre-forward spot, scoring in calm manner like a experienced and prolific goal scorer.
In the end Barça secured a 2-0 away win and made a big step to winning the Super Cup against the Andalusians thanks to highly focused second half. After the game, Luis Enrique was especially happy with Barcelona’s approach in the latter half. “We changed some things at halftime and they [the players] came out stronger. They created more chances and got the ball to our forwards with greater clarity.”
The Barça coach admitted that it’s not easy playing against a Sampaoli side, because “they make things so much harder when they don’t have the ball. So does their man-marking. It doesn’t make it easy to find passing lanes.” Right-back Sergi Roberto stated: “Sevilla always make games difficult for us”, while Denis Suárez explained: “Sevilla put deep pressure on us early on and we found it hard to get the ball out from the back. We played better in the second half. We had more space and the goals started coming. It was a great result to take into the second leg”. But Luis Enrique wouldn’t be Luis Enrique if he wouldn’t insist the 2-0 “might be a good result, but it’s not a definitive one”.
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WRITTEN BY: Alex Truica
Creator of The Pep Episodes. Has a Bachelor degree in journalism and works as a freelance sports journalist and editor, covering international football.