Barcelona reignited their title hopes after Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele scored in a 2-0 victory over Sevilla on Saturday to place them two factors behind Atletico Madrid.
Atletico nonetheless have two video games in hand, the primary of these coming in opposition to sixth-placed Villarreal on Sunday, however a dip in kind from La Liga’s leaders has given their chasing rivals hope.
Barca regarded lifeless and buried just a few weeks in the past however this was their ninth win out of 10 in La Liga, a surge that has put them again in competition, with Atletico taking part in in opposition to Actual Madrid subsequent weekend.
Sevilla began the day as arguably the shape staff on the prime, having received all of their final six league video games, the final 5 of these with out conceding a aim.
However they have been second finest on the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, a dominant efficiency from Barcelona exposing them nonetheless as barely in need of Spain’s prime three.
It additionally creates an intriguing back-drop to Wednesday’s Copa del Rey semi-final second leg when these two groups meet once more, with Barca hoping to overturn a 2-0 deficit at Camp Nou.
Pedri and Ronald Araujo may very well be doubts after each have been substituted within the second half with what regarded like damage issues.
Coach Ronald Koeman might properly stick together with his new 3-5-2 system, which noticed Jordi Alba and Sergino Dest taking part in as wing-backs forward of a again three and Dembele deployed up entrance alongside Messi.
With out Antoine Griezmann, who dropped to the bench, Koeman sacrificed some creativity within the ultimate third for management via the center, to not point out the specter of Dembele in behind.
Actually for the very best a part of an hour Sevilla struggled to flee Barcelona’s press or set up any sustained stress, even after Julen Lopetegui launched three substitutes at half-time and switched formation to match their opponents.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen was handed match to play by the staff physician regardless of hurting his proper thumb within the warm-up and in reality it was hardly examined within the first half.
Barca managed the sport and whereas Alba and Dest by no means actually superior as a lot as Koeman might need preferred, Frenkie de Jong and Pedri have been a continuing menace via the center, with the speedy Dembele simply in entrance.
Possibilities, although, have been few and much between and it took a counter-attack for Barcelona to take the lead.
Fernando gave the ball away cheaply up entrance and two passes have been sufficient, Messi curling the decisive one via for Dembele to race clear and end.
Lopegtegui reacted with three modifications at half-time and two extra after the hour however even by matching Barcelona’s system, Sevilla struggled to achieve a foothold.
Alba got here up simply in need of De Jong’s cross, Dest slammed in opposition to the publish and Messi blazed over after one other surge from Dembele.
One in all Lopetegui’s substitutes Youssef En-Nesyri had Sevilla’s finest likelihood however headed over.
But with out a second aim, a nervy finale was all the time probably and En-Nesyri discovered the nook on the flip however had the aim dominated out for a handball, his tussle with Araujo seeing Barca’s defender go off and he booted some chairs over in frustration.
However Sevilla’s push was transient, ended by Messi with six minutes left.
He traded passes with Dembele, nipped inside Diego Carlos and tried to complete with a chip. Bono saved however the ball got here to Messi, one yard out.