Barcelona are now eight points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the La Liga table thanks to an excellent 3-0 win over Sevilla at the Spotify Camp Nou on Sunday night. The Blaugrana dominated from start to finish and scored some very good goals to get the win and send the crowd home happy.
Here are the winners and losers from the action in the Catalan capital.
Note: Applying the labels “winners” and “losers” is not intended to be a judgment on the talent or character of any of these players. It’s just a simple way to grade their performance in a single game. No disrespect is intended.
Raphinha: Even if he’s not yet hitting the heights of his great career at Leeds United, the Brazilian had his best performance in a Barça shirt tonight. It was the most confident, decisive and poised Raphinha we’ve seen yet, and his assist to Gavi was beautiful and absolutely intentional. He also scored a crucial goal that clearly meant a lot to him and took some weight off his shoulders. I wrote after the Betis win that his performance that night was something to build on. He built on it and played very well tonight. Here’s hoping for even better.
Jordi Alba: He might not be suited to face the very best teams that will ask a lot out of him defensively, but Alba is perfect for this kind of game where Barça will attack a tight defense and need an aggressive left-back with great end product in the final third. Alba remains one of the best attacking full-backs in Europe and had a goal and an assist along with some dangerous crosses and timely runs to offer an outlet to his teammates and catch the Sevilla defense out of position. Excellent performance from a veteran who still has a lot to give.
Franck Kessie: The Ivorian was asked to come off the bench just eight minutes into the match for the injured Sergio Busquets and was solid for the entire night. He made good runs into the box and did a nice job covering space when the forward players pressed high up the pitch. He provided a great assist for Alba’s goal and offered his usual work rate and leadership. Nothing special, but all-around good from the President.
Pedri: The magician had a different role tonight due to Busquets’ injury and was asked to help Frenkie De Jong with the buildup phase and thus was less involved in the attacking action, so his performance might go unnoticed by most people. But Pedri was just as important tonight, constantly offering himself as an option and doing more of the defensive dirty work in the rare occasions where Sevilla tried to be an attacking threat. His passing was on point all night and he was a calm presence in midfield.
Andreas Christensen: Christensen might just make the winners list for the rest of his Barça career. He is remarkably poised and such an important aspect of the possession game with his willingness to attempt riskier passes that break the lines and create dangerous attacks, and he is such a smart defender who dominates in the air and kills counter-attacks at the source with fantastic anticipatory moves. What a player. And on a free!
Jorge Sampaoli: As a Brazilian I know first-hand just how tactically savvy and innovative Sampaoli is, and I’ve always admired his courage to go attack and try to win the game no matter the opposition. So it was a huge disappointment to watch him be so conservative tonight. His team has nothing to lose with their current position in the table and could have been braver at Camp Nou, but the decision to start with essentially a 3-6-1 formation and then take off his only attacking player at halftime was baffling. Sevilla don’t defend well enough to play like they did tonight, and they tried to park the bus anyway. Strange decisions from a good coach.