After providing an assist, Lionel Messi scores their second goal to seal their victory against Sevilla in La Liga

La Liga: Dembele and Messi Fire Barca into Title Contention

Sevilla FC 0-2 Barcelona

Barcelona moved to within two points of the top of the table after a well earned win over Champions League chasing Sevilla.

The La Liga title race has been re-ignited in recent weeks as Atletico Madrid lost some of their momentum, and when Ousmane Dembele gave the Blaugrana a first half lead they sniffed a chance to keep the pressure on Los Rojiblancos. Lionel Messi made the points safe with a late second.

Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla beat Barca in the Copa de Rey semi-final first leg but they were woefully short of ideas today, absent in the opening half and ineffective in the second, but they stay in fourth place and still with a nice seven point over fifth placed Sociedad.

 

Highlights of the game

With third place the prize for Sevilla and second place the aim for Barca, it was a cagey meeting in the opening stages and, while the visitors dominated possession passing the ball around carefully, we didn’t see a shot until the 22nd minute. It was the Blaugrana who tested the opposition keeper as Dembele took a pass from Frenkie de Jong and fired his effort low towards the bottom left corner, but Bono got down well to save. Then he had to be alert to collect a long range effort by Lionel Messi.

But the two Barca strikers combined on the half hour to give the visitors the lead, Messi set Dembele free with a beautifully weighted through ball and the French striker slotted it past the advancing keeper.

It was no more than the Blaugrana deserved, and the Andalusians had nothing in reply as the first half passed them by.

Sevilla are still in a good position with 48 points at the 4th spot in the La Liga table

Sevilla skipper Jesus Navas tried to boost his team with a fiery effort early in the second half

Lopetegui must have delivered a rocket at half time as his side managed to do within six minutes what they failed to achieve in the whole of the first half, have a shot on goal! And it was skipper Jesus Navas who too the initiative, collecting a pass from Ivan Rakitic and testing Ter Stegen low to his left. Then the Barca keeper had to be alert again when Youssef En-Nesyri hit an angled drive towards the bottom corner but Ter Stegen saved well again.

The Seville flurry sparked a Barca response; Dembele had a shot blocked and then Sergino Dest was inches away from doubling the lead when his effort crashed back off the crossbar. And, as the ball swung from end to end Sergio Escudero got his head to a Suso cross but his attempt flew over the bar.

But it was always going to be Barca’s day and when Messi converted from close range the score eventually reflected the visitors’ dominance.

 

Key statistics

Los Sevillanos have been so strong at home this season, winning the last five league games at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, but they offered nothing in the opening 45 minutes, not a single shot on the Barca goal, while the visitors managed four, and three on target.

The hosts improved after the break, but their home winning streak was deservedly ended as Barca won the final shot count by nine to four, and five to two on target.

The La Liga 2021 betting odds still back Atleti, odds on, to win the title, but Ronald Koeman’s Barca have now gone 15 league games unbeaten since they lost to Cadiz on 5th December, winning 12 and drawing three.

 

What’s next?

The race for the title could still go down to the wire and there are some big La Liga 2021 results to come over the next couple of days. Atletico Madrid have an away game against Villarreal on Sunday night and then, on Monday, Real Madrid are at home to Real Sociedad, two more mouth-watering clashes.

Before Sevilla and Barca continue their league campaign they meet in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final on Wednesday. Los Sevillanos have the tie in control, after taking a 2-0 lead in their home match.

Next week Sevilla take the trip to Elche who are in an almighty relegation scrap, currently in 19th place on 21 points, but just a single point behind Eibar in 16th and with two games in hand. Meanwhile the Catalans have an away game against mid-table Osasuna.

Then both Sevilla and Barcelona have a mountain to climb in the Champions League Round of 16. In the first leg the Catalans were thrashed 4-1 by Paris Saint-Germain, as Kylian Mbappe scored a brilliant hat-trick, and they have a three goal deficit to make up, while Los Sevillanos handed three away goals to Borussia Dortmund in a 2-3 setback. We’ll be covering the second legs of Europe’s top competition here at SBOTOP, so keep a look out for the previews, stats, tips and the best range of Asian Handicap Betting odds.

 

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