Barcelona 1-1 Sevilla
A clash of two of the early La Liga pacesetters and one which I predicted would lead to goals galore.
Judging by the first 10 minutes, I thought my prediction with the SBOTOP La Liga betting odds would come true.
But it wasn’t to be as Ronald Koeman’s Barca and Europa League winners Sevilla could not muster any further and could not be separated.
Highlights of the game
The La Liga highlights in the Nou Camp initially arrived thick and fast.
Koeman named the same starting XI from his first matches of the season, with one exception as Ronald Araujo replaced the suspended Clement Lenglet, sent-off in their midweek win at Celta Vigo.
Yet it was Sevilla who enjoyed the stronger start, and after Barca failed to clear a corner, Dutchman Luuk de Jong pounced to rifle in the opener.
There was a certain irony as de Jong had been vigorously defended by Koeman, then Dutch national boss, after he missed a number of chances in the corresponding fixture last season.
Sevilla’s lead did not last long. In fact, just two minutes as Philippe Coutinho continued his fine start to the season by latching onto a pass from Jordi Alba after an inch-perfect ball from Lionel Messi.
It was the Brazilian’s first goal back at Barcelona following his ultimately successful loan spell at Bayern Munich last season.
The visitors may not have managed a single effort on target in the remainder of the match but they were determined to try and disrupt Barcelona’s rhythm – perhaps visiting coach Julen Lopetegui wary of his last two visits to Catalonia.
That’s not to say they didn’t threaten and they almost regained the lead in the second period when Youssef En-Nesyri’s low ball struck the foot of Araujo and glanced off the crossbar.
Barca’s latest signing Sergino Dest made his debut with a quarter of an hour remaining, becoming the first-ever American player to appear for the club.
Another new signing, Miralem Pjanic, was also introduced as the home side went in search of a winner.
However, Sevilla, with Ivan Rakitic back in their ranks just over a month after leaving Barcelona, held on and Koeman suggested after the match that the Andalusians were physically stronger than his charges.
They are up to sixth and seventh respectively with a point each, which maintains an unbeaten start for both.
One player who didn’t make it off the bench as Barcelona looked for a winner was Ousmane Dembele, whose future at the club is up in the air.
It will be interesting to see if he is still in their ranks after tomorrow’s transfer deadline day.
Dest has become the fifth American to play in La Liga, after Kasey Keller (51), Jozy Altidore (nine), Shaquell Moore (six) and Oguchi Onyewu (two).
Lopetegui had lost by a four-goal margin in each of his two league visits to Camp Nou as manager: 5-1 in his last game for Real Madrid in October 2018 and 4-0 in this fixture last season.
Sevilla are winless in their last 18 La Liga games against Barcelona at the Nou Camp.
Barca have not lost in 26 of their last 27 league games against Sevilla.
The hosts are the team with the most wins (83) against Sevilla in La Liga history.
Barcelona and Sevilla both have busy weeks once the first international break of the season has concluded.
Barca travel to Getafe in La Liga a fortnight today (October 18|) before beginning heir Champions League campaign at home to Ferencvaros of Hungary before welcoming champions Real Madrid to the Nou Camp in the first El Clasico of the new campaign.
Sevilla travel to Granda next time out, are at Chelsea in the Champions League just two days later and then host Eibar in the league.
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