Barcelona 3-0 Sevilla: LaLiga leaders move eight points clear of second-placed Real Madrid
Gavi scored his first goal in Xavi’s old number six shirt as Barcelona moved eight points clear of faltering Real Madrid with an emphatic 3-0 win over Sevilla.
There was a price to pay with Sergio Busquets hobbling off early on with an ankle injury that will almost certainly keep him out of Barcelona’s first leg Europa League meeting with Manchester United.
But there were far more pluses than minuses. Gavi got his first league goal of the season, Raphinha scored his first goal at the Camp Nou, and before those two the goal that broke Sevilla’s resistance was very much a product of the supporting cast and not Xavi’s principal actors.
Franck Kessie has been inconspicuous since his arrival from Milan but it was his deft turn and pass inside the area that teed-up Jordi Alba. The left back earns too much for Barca’s fragile finances and the club are still keen to sell but he remains a class act and, wearing the captain’s armband since Busquets departure, he greedily accepted the gift and shot past Bono.
Sevilla’s keeper had been Barcelona’s big problem. They had the better chances in the first half with Bono twice saving well from Robert Lewandowski. It was another positive for Barcelona that they could win without their centre-forward scoring.
Gavi was denied by Loic Bade after wriggling into a goalscoring position as Barcelona dominated early on. They had lost Busquets after just nine minutes with a left ankle knock but Kessie came on and Barcelona’s stride was not broken.
They could have been another Barcelona player hobbling off with an ankle injury after Ivan Rakitic smashed into Ronald Araujo and became the first booking of the night.
The second half started as the first half ended with Raphinha sending a tame header goalwards only for it to be comfortably dealt with by Bono.
Jorge Sampaoli had shuffled his pack at half time bringing on Bryan Gil and Erik Lamela at half time. In the reshuffle it seemed to be Ivan Rakitic playing as a false nine. When he made another change after Barcelona’s opening goal midfielder Joan Jordan was handed a foolscap A4 piece of paper from the bench explaining the changes that Sampaoli wanted.
He was still tying to make sense of it when Raphinha crossed and Gavi scored from close range before running to celebrate with the injured Ousmane Dembele enjoying the home win from the stands.
Barcelona had been told by La Liga that they could not register the 18-year-old midfielder but have over-ruled that decision pending a La Liga appeal. The on the pitch consequence is that with a senior contract Gavi can wear a number between one and 23 and his choice of Xavi’s six fits the coach’s midfield standard bearer.
The goals kept coming and with 10 minutes left that Raphinha got that first Camp Nou goal after the impeccable De Jong played Alba down the left and he crossed for the Brazilian to cap a fine performance with the third.
Xavi was smart at the end taking off Raphinha and Alba so they could both receive the well-deserved ovation from the Camp Nou.
It’s a happy camp right now and no wonder with a eight point gap over Real Madrid who now have the added burden of two World Cup games just as the domestic competition begins to slip from their grasp.
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