I’m really not sure how to write up this report… start at the festivities? the happy hangover? the pre-game indifference? or the mid-match euphoria??? Acht, what the heck, I’m just going to type away as it comes back to me (which may not be too much given the amount of cervezas consumed as Saturday turned into Sunday). Fiesta much? You bet! And why the heck not? Especially when we not only just pumped the current Liga Campeones on our home turf, but we (perhaps more satisfyingly) produced a performance of grit and determination, a performance of class and at times brilliance, and a performance to overall be proud of again, and one that gives genuine reasons for hope that this bunch of players and management have actually turned the corner this season.
Barca supporters will, of course, try to p1ss on our parade, and complain about everything under the sun. The obvious one, Messi being injured… Boo and indeed hoo. Players get injured, we have players out too. Also, you always complain about being accused of being a one-man team, yet your squad is littered with stars (and Pique) that any team in the world would love to have available… They will complain about having a weakened squad due to their “transfer (LOL) ban”… FIFA/UEFA/Real Madrid conspiracies etc. Again, boo hoo, you shouldn’t have cheated in the first place then eh? They will try and complain about the size of the RSP goals. They were quite clearly at least 6 inches too small, and their poor players kept hitting the ball against the woodwork and not the net. Cry me a river, how about trying to kick the ball more accurately next time? Oh, what else… they will complain that Cristiano Ronaldo is an awful human… O.K you get the picture. Our message to those glory hunting cry babies was simple: “BARCA, BARCA, FUEEEEERRRRRRRA” – ironically, most of their “visiting” supporters probably got home before the home fans.
As for the game, you all saw what happened. Do I need to explain again in detail? No. However, I will say this, I have never heard such a noisy stadium in all my life at points in the match. The crowd definitely played a massive part in driving the players on, and they deserve credit for that. The four hundred or so away fans could only watch on in sheepish silence, many taking the opportunity to use their phones to record what a proper home support is like, their one attempt of trying to get a song of their own going fizzling/drowned out before it could even reach the ears of the players on the park.
Quick mention on tactics. We pressed a lot higher than we have been lately, and were not afraid to carry the ball forward more often. The defenders were also happy to carry the ball and deliver to the midfield and wide players, which is something we haven’t seen at all recently, and something we have missed, opting to hoof it long to midgets instead. When we did go long we had Iborra and Vitolo who were more able to do something with the ball rather than surrender it back instantly. Tremo was also far more active down the left hand side and sent in a few decent crosses, especially in the first half. Coke also wasn’t afraid to get down the right hand side either, and played most of the first half as a right winger. It crossed my mind during the match that maybe Emery was saving our energy in Turin for this game, as we looked like two completely different sides in the space of a few days…
As for the players, pass marks for everybody I reckon, well everybody who started the match at least! Big shout out to Krohn-Dehli, who put in a great shift, always looked composed and picked intelligent passes, not to mention turn up in the box to finish cooly into the net. All credit also to Gameiro who ripped both Alba and Mathieu new ones before still finding the time to cross expertly for our opening goal. Many of the players quite understandably ran straight to him to congratulate making the goal. 1-0!
The favour was almost returned moments later, but for the giant head of Iborra. I am not sure Gameiro would have connected with his bicycle kick, but I doubt he was too upset as he looked up from the turf to see that the ball had nestled comfortably in the back of their net for our second. The cross from MKD was sublimely weighted, beating the offside trap. I screamed GOLLLL but could hardly hear myself think as I turned to high-five a random stranger who somehow managed to end up right beside me after cascading down about 5 rows of benches. It was all a bit surreal, we didn’t have to say anything, we all knew it… WE WERE TWO UP against BARCA, and despite secretly knowing there was a long way to go and no one is ever going to be guaranteed an easy win against a team like Barca at that point in the game, we collectively allowed ourselves to just bask in the moment, and it felt wonderful!!! 2-0!
The subs that Emery made appeared to be purely down to fatigue/injury, and did not seem tactical. Although I could see the logic in putting Llorente up front to hold up the ball and run down the clock, but as it turned out he was almost as useful to us as going a man down. Similarly, Reyes seemed to be checking off some sort of bucket list item to play for Barca as he continually passed the ball to their players. With our subs being about as useful as a chocolate watch we had to endure an intense half and hour of wave after wave after wave of Barca attacks. We stood firm though! Rico was solid when called upon, saving three times in succession against the incredible talent of Neymar Jnr. They got their standard big team, weak referee penalty, the ball arguably hitting Tremo’s arm outside the area. 2-1! It didn’t matter in the end. The Seville players had more heart, more courage, more guile, they simply wanted it more than their Catalan visitors, and in the end everyone got what they deserved.
The post-match team huddle in the centre of the field, seemed to be an outward symbol of this squads’ togetherness and determination to get over our awful start, and to finally kick on with the season ahead.
Full Time: Sevilla 2 FC Barcelona 1
After I got home for a quick refresh (and post on here), I headed back out to the stadium to give our Barca heroes a friendly wave goodbye, but alas their bus was gone. It was as if Luis Enrique told them all they didn’t deserve a shower, and they would all have to wait until they got home. Thankfully, the Sevilla players were naturally far more relaxed, signing autographs and waving at their adoring public before heading onto the team bus.
As for the rest of the weekend…
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